2015 NL Championship Series Preview

Welcome back, guys! Today we’ll be looking at the upcoming series between Chicago and New York in what may be the most exciting NLCS in recent memory (simply because it can’t be won by the Cardinals or Giants, for the first time this decade). The series begins tonight in New York (despite Chicago finishing 7 games better than the Mets in the regular season, because of the Wild Card rules) with first pitch scheduled for just after 8PM ET. Let’s get to it!

Chicago Cubs (97-65) vs. New York Mets (90-72)

Projected Starters:

Game 1: Jon Lester (11-12, 3.34) vs. Matt Harvey, (13-8, 2.71)

Game 2: Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77) vs. Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24)*

Game 3: Kyle Hendricks (8-7, 3.95)* vs. Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54)*

*Probable starter, club has not confirmed.

Offensive Comparison (including rank among NL teams):

Chicago New York
.244, 13th BA .244, 14th
.719, T-6th OPS .712, 9th
97, T-5th OPS+ 98, 4th
1518, 15th K 1290, 9th
567, 1st BB 488, 7th
171, 5th HR 177, 4th
4.25, 6th Runs/Game 4.22, 7th

Defensive Comparison (including rank among NL teams):

Chicago New York
3.36, 3rd ERA 3.43, 4th
116, 3rd ERA+ 107, 6th
3.30, 1st FIP 3.53, 6th
1.152, 1st WHIP 1.179, 2nd
1431, 1st K 1337, 6th
407, 4th BB 383, 2nd
134, 3rd HR 152, 7th
111, 12th E 88, 5th
.982, 3rd FLD% .986, T-4th
.695, 3rd Def. Efficiency .697, 2nd
3.75, 4th Runs/Game 3.78, 5th

Looking at the comparisons, we see that Chicago and New York have very similar offensive styles. Both teams strike out a bit, hit for pretty good power, and score a decent amount of runs per game. Chicago’s offense was far better in the NLDS (especially Games 2 through 4) than New York’s was, but I don’t expect the Cubs to continue hitting over three homers per game. The Cubs also struck out a uncharacteristically low amount of times against the Cardinals, which will be interesting to see if it continues against a New York rotation with lots of velocity. Chicago did muster up lots of runs over the last three games against the Cards, which overshadowed some struggles from a few of their key players. Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler only managed 3 hits apiece in the series , combining for nine strikeouts and only one walk. Chicago Catcher Miguel Montero was 0-for-9 in the series with six strikeouts, but did manage to pick up a trio of free passes. I wouldn’t expect Kyle Schwarber or Javy Baez to be as hot as they were against St. Louis (hitting .500 and .800, respectively), so those guys who struggled will need to pick up the pace to keep the Chicago offense up to speed. The Mets might have struggled more, thought, with four starters hitting below .160 in the NLDS and the team as a whole finishing with a .208/.273/.377 slash line. Lucas Duda and David Wright combined to go 3-for-34 with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts between them. Wright’s was able to pick up five walks, which is good, but the Mets definitely need more from their corner infielders. Outfielder Michael Conforto managed only one hit (a home run) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-19 with eight punchouts against zero walks. The Mets managed to scrape by the Dodgers due to good starting pitching, but across a seven-game series the hitters will have to step up no matter what. The Cubs’ pitching results weren’t stellar in the NLDS (4.37 ERA) but as a team they allowed only 28 hits and seven walks in 35.0 innings while striking out 48 batters. I think that these positive peripheral statistics indicate that the Cubs’ staff was a little unlucky against St. Louis and I expect them to see better results against a struggling New York offense. New York, on the other hand, had a good teams ERA in the series (3.48) but allowed more walks and hits per inning than the Cubs did (1.205 vs. 1.000 WHIP) and didn’t strike out as many batters per nine innings (11.05 vs. 12.34 K/9). Each team committed a pair of errors in their respective series, with the Mets allowing one unearned run as a result and the Cubs allowing none. Both pitching staffs are very strong, but I think I like the 1-2-3 of Harvey-Syndergaard-deGrom more than I like Lester-Arrieta-Hendricks. Number four starters Steven Matz and Jason Hammel are both solid, but Matz fared better in his NLDS start than Hammel did. The bullpens are both a little unpredictable, but I think that the Cubs have better talent and depth. Overall, I like the Cubs a lot more in this series. I think they have a better and more consistent lineup, top to bottom, even without Addison Russell. Plus, let’s not forget that Jake Arrieta can dominate opposing lineups on any day. And the Cubs will be afforded the opportunity to use him twice here, should the need arise. Don’t count New York out here, and home field advantage will be on their side, but I’m going with the Cubbies.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Cubs in 7

That’s it! I’m expecting the Cubs to take this one and head on to the World Series for the first time since 1945. You might not see a post from me tomorrow, but expect something good come Monday if that’s the case. Thanks for reading guys, and remember that ALCS Game 2 begins shortly at 4PM ET. The Royals took Game 1 last night, 5-0, behind a solid six inning start from Edinson Volquez, who combined with a trio of relievers to limit the Jays’ potent offense to just 3 hits. Thanks for reading, and all of your shares, likes, follows, and comments are appreciated and welcomed – enjoy the games!

Stats credit of Baseball-Reference.com.

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2 thoughts on “2015 NL Championship Series Preview

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