When listening to sports talk radio around the nation you much too frequently hear callers who are more concerned with what their favorite team will do in the off-season to improve itself with designs set on next season rather than enjoying the conclusion of the current season.
Thus, to some, the upcoming series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals will be a preview of their two game series that will open the 2016 season for each.
But for most of the planet the upcoming matchup between the Royals and Mets will be properly viewed for what it is – the 2015 World Series that will mark the end of what has been a very enjoyable season.
It will also end nearly identical droughts for one of these teams as the Mets won their last World Series in 1986, a season after the Royals won their only World Series. Both of those World Series had plenty of drama and went the full 7 games. And if this World Series also goes the full distance it will be a fitting conclusion to a season that saw six teams that did not make the Playoffs in 2014 join just four repeaters in this season’s Playoffs.
There is not much recent history between these teams. They last met in August 2013 in a three-game series in New York. The Mets won the opener before the Royals took the next two. None of the six starters in that series are in the rotation of either team this season.
The Series is competitively priced with both teams priced roughly at pick ‘em whereby you would lay 110 to back either team. Some books may entice you to play one side or the other based on their Futures liability on each team. If Sports Book A needs the Mets they may offer the Series price as Royals -120, Mets Even Money. If Sports Book B needs the Royals the prices would be reversed.
On paper this really does shape up as a very even series with the Mets dominating starting rotation offset by the balanced lineup of the Royals – a lineup that rarely strikes out (fewest times in all of MLB) and makes opposing hurlers work deep into the count. The Royals also play excellent defense and have overall above average team speed.
Kansas City also has a bullpen that is constructed to have the edge in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, requiring the starters to not have to go as deep into games as must teams with lesser bullpens. And that remains the case even with Wade Davis replacing the injured Greg Holland as closer.
The Mets have an outstanding closer, Jeurys Familia, but otherwise have an average, at best, bullpen. The presence of veterans Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese – both of whom pitched much of this past season as starters – somewhat nullifies what is generally considered a major edge for the Royals in the composition of the relief corps but still gives the Royals an edge.
The Royals also have the home field advantage as a result of the American League winning this summer’s All Star game. They also have the experience of having made it to Game 7 of last season’s World Series.
But the Mets are similar to last season’s Royals in that 2014 was Kansas City’s first appearance in the Playoffs since 1985. Although the Mets’ postseason drought was only since 2006 the lack of Playoff experience did not prevent the Royals from making as deep a runs as possible without winning the World Series, coming up 90 feet short of tying Game 7 last season.
The Mets’ lineup was bolstered with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline and the return shortly thereafter of David Wright who had missed most of the season prior to his August return. And the Mets enter the World Series with the red hot bat of NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy, who has homered in 6 straight Playoff games including shots off of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester – the first three of whom are expected to finish as the top three vote getters for the NL Cy Young Award (although the Mets’ Jacob deGrom could finish third or fourth).
As a teenager who grew up in New York in the 1960’s as a diehard Mets fan (and who still has every Mets Yearbook for the first decade of their existence and was in attendance at Game 4 of the 1969 World Series when Ron Swoboda made one of the best catches in World Series history) my emotional attachment will be with the Mets.
But the matchups suggest the edges in the late game stages, are with the Royals.
There are several ways to approach betting the World Series with the Mets a pretty good play for the first 5 innings when their starters enjoy a solid advantage over the Kansas City starters. The Mets’ Matt Harvey (the Game 1 starter), deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Matz are better than the Royals’ expected rotation of Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura and Chris Young. We may have to lay a price with the Mets for the first 5 innings but that approach may be the most profitable way to back New York during the series.
As of mid morning Monday Kansas City had yet to announce its Game 1 starter and subsequent rotation. It was expected that the Royals would start Volquez against Harvey.
A preferred approach of mine over the years is to look for the road team to win one of the first two games in a best of seven series, especially if made the underdog. As such the Mets would be the play in Game 1.
If the Royals wins Game 1 the Game 2 play would again be on the Mets. If the Mets win the opener the Game 2 play would be on Kansas City in a matchup that should feature Syndergaard against Cueto. If laying no more than -130 the Royals would be the play in such a situation.
The preferred Totals play for much of the series would be on the UNDER with UNDER 7.5 the most attractive play although UNDER 7 would also be acceptable. The lone exception would be in a Game 4 matchup of the Royals’ Young vs the Mets’ Matz (try saying that three times fast). Such a matchup would be played in Citi Field and the OVER would be worth a look if the Total is 8 or less.
The ultimate call is for the Royals to win the World Series in 6 games with a flow that has the teams splitting the first two games in Kansas City, the Royals taking two of three in New York and then wrapping up the World Series in Game 6 back home.
As a Mets fan, I hope I am wrong. But as a bettor I think I am on the right side. A Royals win would be a bittersweet victory. But a financially successful one. Success in this endeavor requires the separation of head from heart.
Regardless of the outcome the 2015 season will be remembered as one that has given hope to small market and/or small market payrolls that smart management and committed ownership can lead to success on the field even in the face of supposedly limited resources. And that having virtually unlimited resources may no longer be an assurance of success.
Barring a World Series that ends in a 4 game sweep or in 5 games – or involves rainouts – the final baseball column for this season will revisit the World Series as it stands after next Sunday.
If the Series ends over the weekend, enjoy the winter knowing that the start of 2016 Spring Training is just four months away.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]