World Series Game 2 Preview: The Mets Look to Draw Even
An inside-the-park homer on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning. Incredible defensive plays. A huge defensive gaffe. A bizarre power outage that knocked off the TV broadcast and caused a delay. A legend-making, game-tying, ninth inning homer and 14 innings.
Yessir, Game 1 just about had it all. So how can Game 2 possibly measure up?
It probably won't, because Game 1 of the 2015 World Series will forever be remembered as one of the greatest Fall Classic games ever played. But tonight's Game 2 should also be a dandy, as New York tries to leave Kansas City with at least a split, while the Royals look to take an early stranglehold before the series shifts to New York.
Here are three keys to tonight's Game 2 showdown.
The Dominance of deGrom
Tonight, the Mets turn to their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom to even the series, something they have to feel pretty darn good about. In two starts in the National League Division Series, he gave up just 2 earned runs in 13.0 innings for an ERA of 1.38, striking out 20 and walking just 4, and in his Game 3 start against Chicago in the National League Championship Series, he was brilliant once again, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits with 7 strikeouts and 1 walk in 7 innings, moving to 3-0 this postseason.
If the Royals are hoping to get a stinker out of deGrom tonight, they're probably going to be disappointed. He gave up 4 or more earned runs in just 4 of his 30 starts this season and gave up 2 runs or fewer in 23 of his 30 starts (76.6%).
And despite a lefty-heavy lineup that typically performs well against right-handed pitching (Kansas City hitters slashed .266/.321/.416 for a .737 OPS against righties this year), they're not as likely to find that kind of success against deGrom, who allowed left-handed hitters to slash .243/.283/.380 against him this year.
This will also be the first time anyone on the Royals other than Drew Butera has seen deGrom, so one wouldn't think that works in Kansas City's favor.
There's also this.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) October 28, 2015
The Questionable Cueto
Which Johnny Cueto are we going to see tonight? The answer could be the key to the entire series.
Will we see the Cueto who went 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA for the Reds last year and the one who went 7-6 with a 2.62 ERA for Cincinnati this season before his mid-season trade to Kansas City? Or will we see the Cueto who went 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA after the trade and saw his strikeouts per nine innings drop from 8.3 with the Reds to 6.2 with the Royals?
Will we see the Cueto who gave up four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and three walks in Game 2 of the ALDS against Houston and the one who got bombed for eight earned runs on six hits in two innings against the Blue Jays in Game 3 of the ALCS? Or will we see the Cueto who went eight innings and gave up just two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in the Game 5 ALDS clincher against the Astros? You know, the one who retired the final 19 batters he faced?
A number of Mets are very familiar with Cueto but have had middling success against him. Over the last five years, Curtis Granderson has gone deep twice off Johnny but has hit just .250 against him in 12 career at-bats. David Wright has a .235 batting average and a homer in 17 at-bats. Lucas Duda (.200, one homer in 15 at-bats), Juan Lagares (.167 in 12 at-bats) and Daniel Murphy (.200 in 15 at-bats) also have had limited success against him over the last five years.
But no one knows which Johnny Cueto is going to show up. If the Royals get "Good Johnny," then they have a legitimate ace who can match deGrom pitch for pitch. If they get "Bad Johnny," it could be an easy night for the Mets and a very long night for the Royals.
A 14-inning game to lead off the Fall Classic is exciting as heck, but both teams now have some potentially tired bullpens to worry about.
Kansas City won the battle of the 'pens last night, as they should have. Had they lost Game 1 after essentially getting a draw from the Edinson Volquez versus Matt Harvey matchup, it would have been a wasted opportunity.
But both teams leaned heavily on their relievers in last night's extra inning affair. The Royals used Danny Duffy (2/3 of an inning), Kelvin Herrera (1 1/3), Luke Hochevar (1), Wade Davis (1), Ryan Madson (1) and potential Game 4 starter Chris Young (3). That group pitched 8 innings, allowed just 5 hits with 2 walks and 12 strikeouts. In the World Series.
New York would seem to be in more trouble than Kansas City. While the Royals used all their relievers for just one inning apiece, with the exception of Herrera who got four outs, New York had to rely heavily on two of their regular season starters, Niese and Colon, in Game 1. That's a problem, because manager Terry Collins does not have much confidence in his full-time relievers and was planning to use Niese and Colon as middle relievers in this series. But after using them to record 13 outs last night, it's fair to wonder what Collins can get out of them tonight.
The Mets really need deGrom to go deep into Game 2 tonight and hope they don't get another extra-inning affair.