NLCS Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets


MLB’s final four teams are set, as the New York Mets’ victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of their NLDS matchup punched their ticket into the National League Championship Series. They join the Chicago Cubs, who have had a few extra days to rest and recuperate following their four-game NLDS win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs were the only team to win their division series, and even better, they beat their hated rivals, the Cardinals, who were the only 100-win team in baseball this year. They bashed their way to their first NLCS berth since 2003, hitting 10 home runs in the final three games of their series, including a postseason-record six in their 8-6 game three win, after being shut out in game one.

After finishing third in the National League Central, the Cubs had the privilege of eliminating both of the two teams that finished ahead of them, the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. With their game-four win at Wrigley Field, the Cubs clinched a postseason series on their home turf for the first time in the franchise’s history, which is incredible considering they’ve been playing since 1876.

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The Metropolitans beat the unbeatables, earning a win against both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on the way to their first NLCS since 2006. In game one, the Mets knocked off Kershaw, and in the game five finale, beat Greinke to celebrate at Dodger Stadium.

Daniel Murphy was the star of game five for the Mets. He started the scoring in the first inning when he scored Curtis Granderson with a double to left field. In the fourth inning, he advanced to second base on a walk, then, in one of the most heads up moves you’ll see, moved to third base because no one was covering the bag due to the shift. He scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sac fly.

In the sixth, he put the Mets ahead for good with a solo home run off Greinke. Murphy went deep three times in the series, once off Greinke and twice off Kershaw. That’s more than a bit impressive.

Whoever wins this series will undoubtably get a huge contribution from their young players. The Mets’ young pitchers have been their calling card, while the Cubs’ young lineup has beaten and banged up opposing hurlers.

Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz are the young starters for the Mets, and figure to get all the starting assignments through this series. They’ll have a very tough assignment on their hands, as the Cubs’ farm system has produced some big time sluggers.

Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Addison Russell (who unfortunately won’t be playing through the rest of the postseason because of a hamstring injury) are all rookie hitters who have had a big impact on the Cubs this season. Even some of their more seasoned players are still very young. Starlin Castro is only 25, and Anthony Rizzo is just 26.

Both teams are in World Series championship droughts, although the Mets’ 29-year dry spell is infantile compared to the Cubs’ 107 years of waiting. The regular season series was owned by the Cubs, as they swept the Mets in seven games, outscoring them 27-11. Can the Mets make adjustments and find a way to beat Chicago, or will the Cubs earn their chance to break more than a century’s worth of losing?

Here is the complete schedule for the NLCS:

Game 1: Saturday, October 17th, at Citi Field

Game 2: Sunday, October 18th, at Citi Field

Game 3: Tuesday, October 20th, at Wrigley Field

Game 4: Wednesday, October 21st, at Wrigley Field

Game 5: Thursday, October 22nd, at Wrigley Field (if necessary)

Game 6: Saturday, October 24th, at Citi Field (if necessary)

Game 7: Sunday, October 25th, at Citi Field (if necessary)

Next: ALCS Preview: Blue Jays vs. Royals