Nine long years of waiting for Mets fans comes to an end on Friday. The Mets’ first playoff game since 2006 takes place at 9:45 p.m. Eastern (TBS) in Los Angeles against the big-money Dodgers.
Both teams made their way to the postseason on the strength of their starting pitchers, and that will be evident in game one as reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54), duels with the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 2.13).
deGrom dominated the Dodgers when he faced them on July 26, posting 7.2 innings of shutout baseball with only two hits allowed. Dodgers with experience against deGrom outside of this season include Adrian Gonzalez, who is 3-for-8 against him with two home runs and five RBI. Mets manager Terry Collins would be wise to bring a lefty out of the bullpen (or have deGrom issue an intentional walk) should Gonzalez get an RBI opportunity late in the game.
Yasiel Puig also hit a home run against deGrom back in 2014 but that’s his only hit against the Stetson University product, who struck him out three times in six ABs. Former Phillies Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are only 4-for-18 combined against deGrom, with no home runs or RBI to speak of between them.
Kershaw, who is a dismal 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in the postseason, has very good numbers against the Mets. He pitched a complete-game three-hit shutout in Queens on July 23. The only Mets with a home run against Kershaw are Juan Uribe, who will not be on the NLDS roster as he is still battling a chest injury, and utility man Kelly Johnson. Kershaw has only given up two other extra-base hits against the Mets, one to Uribe and the other to David Wright. Yoenis Cespedes hasn’t faced Kershaw as a Met but is 0-for-3 in his career against him. The Mets certainly hope the playoff atmosphere will be Kershaw’s undoing once more.
Since the Mets will likely have to face Kershaw twice as well as Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke twice if the series goes the distance, they will have to turn those numbers around and force the Dodgers’ starters out early so they can attack their mediocre bullpen. Aside from closer Kenley Jansen the Dodgers have no reliable relievers, as evidenced by their bullpen ERA of 3.91, which was 19th in the majors this season.
The Mets have no such problems in the bullpen, as the trio of Addison Reed, Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia should keep a hold on things late in games all series long.
Game two promises to be just as intense and low-scoring as the Mets have Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) lined up to face the aforementioned Greinke (19-3, 1.66). In game three the starters are scheduled to be Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71) and Brett Anderson (10-9, 3.69), then games four and five (if necessary) will depend on the series situation. The Mets’ first ever playoff game at CitiField, which will be game three of the series, will take place on Monday.