Here is the first of a new round of MMO Roundtable questions as we get set for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
What will be the key to beating the Kansas City Royals?
Brian Greenzang – The key to beating this Kansas City team will ultimately be just playing better fundamental baseball. This Royals team has only committed one error this entire postseason. They are focused, hungry and have unfinished business. The Mets cannot make fielding or mental errors in this series. They have to bring that strong desire to take what they believe to be theirs. The Royals are a beatable team, their pitching is nowhere near where the Mets are. The AL Champions though do possess a potent line-up who seem to thrive on fastballs, but so did the Cubs.
William Botchway – Much like the Mets did during each of the four games against the Cubs, score early and often. Kansas City’s biggest weakness is their starting pitching. Between Yordano Ventura, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Chris Young, they don’t have a starting pitcher that strikes fear into my heart. However, their bullpen is freakishly good, and once they are brought into the game, any offensive barrage will likely end soon. In a lot of ways—as is to be expected—the first three innings of the first game can set the tone for the rest of the series. Jumping on Ventura in Game 1 forces Ned Yost to stretch out his bullpen a lot more than he would have wanted, possibly tiring them slightly for the remaining games, and putting the Mets in pole position.
Andre Dobiey – Try to minimize mistakes in the field and on the basepaths. And, most of all, Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Familia need to keep doing what they have been doing. If the Mets keep allowing an average of less than 3 runs per game in this series, they will almost certainly win the World Series. Execute and mix up the pitches.
Michael Mayer – I think the key to beating the Royals will be getting to the KC starters early and often. Royals bullpen is one of the best in the game but the starters can be hit and the Mets need to take advantage of that. The starters for the Mets will do their job and keep the team in every game. Someone else on the offense is going to have to step up.
Logan Barer – The Kansas City Royals are very different than the Cubs. The Cubs hitters, with the exception of Anthony Rizzo, were swing and miss guys. They put their all into every swing and had a “hey, I missed that one but I’ll knock the next one outta here” mentality. The Royals, however, are adept at working up pitch counts, putting the ball in play, and using their speed to manufacture runs. Arguably the Mets’ best asset is their starting pitching. The key, in my opinion, is to keep that pitch count down so Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz can get into at least the 6th and hopefully beyond. Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard, and of course Jeurys Familia are the only relievers in our ‘pen that I have confidence in. Getting the ball to them, if not directly to Familia, is immensely important. Pound the zone, keep the ball down, and make the plays in the field.
Matt Fritz – I believe the key to beating this Royals team is to jump on them early, much like the Mets did in their previous two series’ against the Dodgers and Cubs. While Yordano Ventura, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Chris Young is a solid pitching rotation for them, it doesn’t scare me nearly as much as their dominant bullpen. Wade Davis has three saves this postseason while only allowing three hits in 6.2 innings pitching. Relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera has also been impressive by allowing just one run on five hits and striking out 16 in 8.2 innings. It’s also imperative the Mets keep the speed of the Royals of the bases. Guys like Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar can change an inning just with their legs. Look no further than Eric Hosmer‘s single in the bottom of the 8th inning of Game 6 of the ALCS.
Gerry Silverman – The Royals lineup will present a real challenge because of their exceptionally low strikeout rates and tremendous talent for hitting the best fastballs (#1 in BA against pitches of at least 95 mph). Accordingly, the key to defeating them will lie in the Mets’ pitchers command of secondary pitches to get outs. Fortunately, this very quality is what makes the Met staff so outstanding. I expect the game plan to vary somewhat from that employed against the Cubs, but obviously adjustments will have to made as the action unfolds. Should be quite interesting.
Stephanie Sheehan – Score early. Just as they did against the Cubs, jumping out to an early lead not only allows for leverage in our own starting pitching, but it automatically puts the opposing team in the mentality that they need to dig themselves out of a hole, which is going to be incredibly tough against the Mets’ young arms. The Royals have the best bullpen in the game, with a number of pitchers who throw 95+ mph. Not only that, but the Mets didn’t score all that much against the Cubs’ or Dodgers’ bullpen; the bulk of their runs, especially in the NLCS, came in the first inning. Scoring early and scoring often will allow the starting pitching to relax a little bit and pitch their game; something that I believe is crucial, particularly since this is all four starters’ first time in the postseason, let alone the World Series.