Mets and Yankees Playoff Predictions

Bronx, New York 8/19/15 New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (31) watches his first major league home run go into the stands in the 4th inning in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2015 (Paul J. Bereswill)

Bronx, New York 8/19/15 New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird (31) watches his first major league home run go into the stands in the 4th inning in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2015 (Paul J. Bereswill)

This is now the fourth time the Mets and Yankees will be in the playoffs simultaneously. The first time it happened was in 1999 when the Yankees won it all and the Mets were eliminated in the National League Championship Series. The two teams met the following year in the World Series with the Bronx Bombers capturing the crown in five games. In 2006, the Yankees were bounced in the American League Championship Series while the Amazins’ fell short in the NLCS. The Yanks have the longer road with the one game Wild Card game while the Mets open on the road in Los Angeles. Will this year result in another Subway Series? Read on to find out.

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New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, June 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, June 16, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The team from Queens is stumbling into the playoffs, to put it mildly. They were no-hit on Saturday for the second time this season, this time by Washington’s Max Scherzer. They have won twice since they clinched the division title in Cincinnati. Yet, they now enjoy almost a week off for rest, relaxation and most importantly, recharging as they get set to head to Los Angeles to face the West-winning Dodgers. Unlike New York, Los Angeles had a fine final week, going 5-2 including a season-ending sweep of the Padres. The Mets won the regular season series between the two teams four games to three.

The Dodgers have two things going for them: Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The two of them will finish among the top three (along with Jake Arrieta) for the National League Cy Young Award. Greinke finished with the lowest ERA in the game at 1.66 while Kershaw struck out 300 batters, something no pitcher has done in 13 years. But when you get beyond the two of them, what is it the Mets need to be worried about?  The shadows?  Aren’t the Dodger hitters going to be challenged facing Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and/or Noah Syndergaard under those same conditions? For those worried about the Mets’ momentum going into this series, relax. To feel better, read this excellent post written last year by Ben Lindberg at Grantland discussing playoff myths. With no games being played, momentum right now is in the eye of the beholder.

When you match the Mets and the Dodgers up, it is really hard to find an advantage for LA outside of the big two pitchers. While understanding that is a huge advantage in a five game series, it’s not as if the Mets’ staff stinks. Plus, New York’s bullpen, with Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia is better than J.P. Howell, Juan Nicasio and Kenley Jansen. I believe the Mets’ lineup is deeper than the Dodgers’ although the return of Yasiel Puig narrows the gap. Yoenis Cespedes is poised for a big playoff run and you can feel Curtis Granderson and David Wright putting together clutch at-bats late in games. Michael Conforto is a rookie X Factor much like the Dodgers’ Corey Seager. If Juan Uribe can somehow make the roster then the Mets’ have a huge advantage with him, Kelly Johnson and Michael Cuddyer coming off the bench. More than Puig, the Dodgers I wouldn’t want to see in a tight spot are Seager and Adrian Gonzalez. Then again, LA also trots out long time Met nemeses Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. All the pressure in the world will be on Dodger Blue after being bounced early from the playoffs the last two years. All the Mets have to do when facing the Big Two is to keep it a 2-1 game late. The pitchers will come out and the deep Met lineup will find a way to scratch out a couple of runs. Despite the records and how they finished the season, New York is a better all-around team. Mets in 4.

If successful, the Mets would then face one of the teams in the National League Central. New York was a combined 3-16 vs. the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs with the only three victories coming against St. Louis. The team I believe the Mets would face in the NLCS would be the Pittsburgh Pirates and sorry to say, the playoffs won’t be much different from the regular season. Now, the Bucs have a rough assignment on Wednesday going up against Arrieta. However, I believe the magic of PNC Park will be able to guide them past the Cubbies in a thrilling Wild Card affair. Pittsburgh won 98 games this year after being only two over .500 at the end of May. After two seasons of knocking on the door, it is time for the Pirates to bust right through it. As long as they get out of the Wild Card game, they will roll right to a World Series title. This is not a good matchup for the Mets. Pittsburgh is better in every single way except for maybe the starting rotation. However, Gerrit Cole is just as good as any Mets’ starter with a 19-8 record and a 2.60 ERA. The bullpen and the lineup of the Pirates’ is deeper than the Mets. The Amazins’ will win a game but Pittsburgh wins the series in five.

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Bronx NY, USA - April 9th: Baltimore Orioles Vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium: New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) makes his first professional start at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

Bronx NY, USA – April 9th: Baltimore Orioles Vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium: New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) makes his first professional start at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

The Yankees were even worse in the last week, losing six out of seven games. They beat the Red Sox to clinch a playoff spot then needed help from the Diamondbacks in order to host the Astros at the Stadium Tuesday night. Houston finished up at 86-76, a remarkable turnaround from losing 90 games in 2014 and over 100 games in each of the prior three seasons. It’s the plodding Yankees against the exuberant Astros in the first Yankee playoff game without Derek Jeter in 20 years. As bad as New York has looked lately, just remember that every time this season people would talk about their demise, they would rise up for the next challenge.

Dallas Keuchel‘s numbers away from home are no match for his Minute Maid Park numbers. His ERA is over two runs higher while batters are hitting over 50 points better against him when not in Houston. However, he dominated the Bombers in his two starts against them with 16 shutout innings. I think the results will be a little bit different this time. It reminds me a bit of Johan Santana when he was with the Twins. He would kill the Yankees in the regular season but the Yanks would find a way to beat him in the playoffs.  He’ll face Masahiro Tanaka in what should be a low scoring contest. I like Tanaka’s line to be six innings and two runs with the final three guys in the bullpen nailing it down for a 3-2 win, the first big victory in the post-Jeter era. That would send the Yankees on to play the Kansas City Royals, owners of the American League’s best record.

If this were the Blue Jays, I would have had a different take. However, the Royals, winners of 95 games, are not the same team from a year ago at this time. The aura of the invincible bullpen is down a man as Greg Holland underwent Tommy John surgery. Lorenzo Cain, one of Kansas City’s best players is slowed by a knee bruise. The starting rotation is not great although left-hander Danny Duffy has the potential to give the Yanks some problems. Without question, their lineup is better this year. Perhaps most importantly, the Royals are no longer the little darlings of the playoffs. Now they are expected to win. The Yanks won the season series four games to two, punctuated by a sweep at the Stadium in late May. That was along time ago. You can agure the Yankees’ pitching is better than the Royals’ from top to bottom especially if Luis Severino can continue a tremendous rookie season. The back of the bullpens are almost a mirror image of one another with New York’s holding a slight edge due to the loss of Holland. It is very hard to repeat as pennant winners and I believe the Royals are going to slip up along the way. I think they will come into this series a bit too overconfident. I’ll take the Yankees in five.

Alas, the next round will have the Yanks face the Blue Jays who I believe will beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. Unfortunately, much like the Mets and Pirates, this is a bad matchup for the Yankees. Toronto took 13 out of 19 games from the Bombers including five of seven over the last two weeks of the season. The Blue Jays are simply better in just about every phase of the game. The bullpen is the one area New York can match Toronto but it won’t matter. The Blue Jay lineup will mash the Yankee starting pitching all over the yard just like they have done for most of the season. It was a great ride in 2015, much better than many people (USA Today picked them last) than any of us could imagine. However, the Yankees’ season ends in the ALCS, as they fall to a superior club. Blue Jays in five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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