After five days off, the Mets finally kick off the World Series in Kansas City Tuesday night, with the first pitch set for a little after 8 p.m., weather permitting. This year’s pennant winners have similarly long World Series droughts: The Mets are looking for their first championship since 1986, while the Royals, who fell in Game 7 of last year’s Series, will try again to capture their first title since 1985. Here, ten things to know about the 2015 Fall Classic.
1. History says the Mets’ long layoff won’t matter.
The NLCS ended on Wednesday, giving the Mets five full days off before tonight’s World Series opener. The break allowed banged-up players like Céspedes to heal and Collins to set up his rotation however he wanted. But if history is any indication, a long break before the Fall Classic doesn’t make much of a difference: Of the 15 teams that have had to wait five or more days for the World Series opener after winning an LCS, eight went on to win, and seven went on to lose. (That said, the recent trend doesn’t favor the Mets: Five of the last six teams with such a long layoff lost, including each of the last three.)
2. Matt Harvey will start Game 1.
With all of his starting pitchers on more than full rest, Terry Collins is changing up the order of his rotation for the World Series. Matt Harvey, who’d pitched Game 3 of the NLDS to keep his innings limit down, will start Game 1 of the World Series, followed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz.
3. The Royals’ starting pitching has been shaky.
The Mets’ biggest advantage in this series might be in the rotation. Kansas City’s foursome of Edinson Volquez (4.32 ERA this postseason), Johnny Cueto (7.88), Yordano Ventura (5.09), and Chris Young (3.12) is considered a weak link on an otherwise solid team. There’s potential in that rotation — Cueto was excellent in Game 5 of the ALDS, and Volquez had a fine outing in Game 1 of the ALCS — but the consistency hasn’t been there. (Cueto was also terrible in Game 3 of the ALCS, while Volquez fell apart in Game 5 of that series.)
4. Yoenis Céspedes is healthy enough to play.
Just about everything came up Mets in the NLCS, but fans held their breath when Yoenis Céspedes left Game 4 with a sore shoulder. Céspedes received a cortisone shot on Thursday, and on Saturday, he said he was feeling better and vowed to be ready for Game 1, adding that he didn’t think his shoulder would limit him. That said, he admits he’s not 100 percent.
5. Alcides Escobar is almost as hot as Daniel Murphy right now.
Escobar is a career .262 hitter, but in the ALCS, he batted .478 and set a postseason record by getting a lead-off hit in the first four games of the series. Escobar didn’t homer in the series — he has very little power — but he finished the ALCS with a 1.134 OPS thanks to 11 hits, including two doubles and a triple, in six games.
6. Speaking of Murphy, he’s on the verge of (more) history.
The second baseman’s unlikely power surge has him just one home run short of tying the record for homers in a single postseason. (Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran, and Nelson Cruz currently share the record, with eight.) Incredibly, as the World Series gets under way, Murphy is the favorite (at 4:1) to win the series MVP award, according to Bovada.
7. Both teams’ closers are practically unhittable right now.
Jeurys Familia hasn’t allowed a run in nine and two-thirds innings so far. Meanwhile, Wade Davis, who replaced the injured Greg Holland as the Royals’ closer last month, has thrown six and two-thirds scoreless innings over five appearances so far. The back of the Royals’ bullpen, in general, has been outstanding: Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Luke Hochevar have combined to allow just one earned run in 20⅓ innings — good for a 0.45 ERA.
8. The Royals don’t strike out very often.
The Mets have some of the best young arms in baseball, and all of that power pitching makes for an interesting matchup in this series, as the Royals were the hardest team to strike out in the league. Kansas City batters struck out just 973 times in the regular season — 134 times fewer than the next-closest team. Via USA Today, the Royals put the ball in play a ton: They had the highest contact rate in the majors this season, as well as the lowest walk rate. Mets starters, meanwhile, had the best strikeout-to-walk rate in the big leagues.
9. This is the first time two expansion-era teams will meet in the World Series.
Major League Baseball had 16 franchises from 1903 to 1960, but the following year began a series of expansions that would nearly double the size of the league by 1998. Even though that process began more than 50 years ago, this marks the first time two expansion-era teams will meet in the World Series. (The Mets entered the league in 1962, while the Royals did so in 1969.) Or, to put it another way, it’s the first World Series matchup between two franchises that weren’t part of the league during the era of segregation.
10. Tickets to the games in New York will be ridiculously expensive.
Via ESPN, the average resale price as of Monday on the secondary market for Games 3 and 4 was $1,115 and $1,077, respectively. The highest price paid so far on StubHub? A club seat for Game 4 at Citi Field that sold for $15,000.