Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2015 World Series matchup and Prediction


Can Batman bring a championship to New  York? Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Can Batman bring a championship to New York? Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Post season predictions so far:

So, neither LCS went as I thought it would and we have the #1 media market in the post-season for the first time since 2009.

Likely Pitching Matchups for Mets-Royals:


  • Game 1: Harvey vs Volquez
  • Game 2: deGrom vs Ventura
  • Game 3: Cueto vs Snydergaard
  • Game 4: Young vs Matz
  • Game 5: likely Volquez vs Harvey again
  • Game 6: likely deGrom vs Ventura again
  • Game 7: likely Snydergaard vs Cueto again


The Mets, by virtue of their quite unexpected sweep, get to reset their rotation and opt (somewhat surprisingly) to lead with Matt Harvey instead of Jacob deGrom.  So be it; both guys likely throw twice in the series anyway, so perhaps its a case of getting Harvey a home start in game 5 where he’s likely to be unbeatable.  The Royals had to burn Yordano Ventura in the LCS game 6; he won’t be available until WS game 2, so they seem set to lead off with their 2nd most effective guy Edinson Volquez in the opener.

Man for man, the Mets seem to have an overwhelming pitching advantage here.  Their 1-2-3 starters each are significant throwers, Volquez doesn’t normally scare anyone, and Johnny Cueto had a 36.00 ERA in the LCS.  But the Royals are formidable at the plate: 2nd in the league in BA (by just a point behind the leader), Fewest in the league, by a fairly significant margin, in percentage of strikeouts.  Lastly, as a team they’re the 3rd best squad in the game at hitting fastballs.  So strength meets strength here.

I can see the Royals working the Mets pitchers, who are all young and may be at the tail end of their effectiveness after a season where almost all of them are pitching far longer than they thought.  If the Royals get into the Mets bullpen … are they in trouble?  Meanwhile, the Royals’ starters don’t exactly inspire confidence necessarily, but the Royals bullpen is 2nd to none and with so many off-days there’s no reason to think that their main bullpen arms can’t throw in practically every game.   With the possible exception of one game in NY, I can see the likes of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar throwing each night and shutting down the late innings.  This could make the difference if this team can get a lead and hold on to it in a close game.

Side note: how funny is baseball; Wade Davis was an awful starter … 5.32 ERA for KC in 24 starts in 2013.  and in 2 years out of the pen he’s 17-3 with a 0.97 ERA across 139 IP!!  Read that statline again; it wasn’t a typo.  187/43 K/BB in 139 IP over the last two years as a 7th/8th inning guy.  Hochevar was the same thing: 5.73 ERA as a starter in 2012, then a 1.92 ERA when he got moved to the pen in 2013.  They also have the effective Ryan Madsen (former Phillie) out there, and all of this bullpen success is in spite of losing perhaps their *best* arm in closer Greg Holland to injury earlier this year.  Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned for our Nats in terms of bullpen construction and what it can do for you.

Can the Mets keep up their momentum after such a long layoff?  Will the rest help or hurt their young arms? (probably help frankly).

I have a feeling this is the Royal’s year.  I’m not sure how they do it, but I think the home field advantage and the fact that they’ve “been there before” gives them a bit of an advantage.  The Mets’ arms are not infallible; they’ll give up runs.  Is Daniel Murphy still the second coming of Babe Ruth?  Can Lucas Duda get hot again (when he’s on fire, he’s the best hitter in the league, as my fantasy team this year could attest).

Prediction; I like Kansas City in 7.  This goes against my better judgement, because I always favor the arms, but when the bats can neutralize the arms … go with the team that seems like its destined to win.

PS: in case you were not aware of the local connection … Kansas City’s GM Dayton Moore was involved with the baseball program at George Mason University, serving as an assistant coach from 1990-1994, right around the same time as some of my baseball colleagues were there (my former teammates who played at Mason would have graduated in the 92-94 range).  Now as GM in KC, he’s hired former local player Lonnie Goldberg as his scouting director; we mentioned Goldberg in this space back in Jan 2013 when talking about notable local pro players in my big “All-Virginia team” post, and Goldberg was on those Mason teams in the early 1990s with my former HS teammate Billy Emerson (now the AD at Paul VI in Fairfax).  Small world.

14 Responses to '2015 World Series matchup and Prediction'

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  1. OK, I’m still perfect in AL picks but only 1-3 in the NL (Cubs over Cards), as the Mediocre Mets continue to rub salt in our wounds. I’m tempted to pick them here just to jinx them, but I’ll go with the Royals.

    Boz floated a couple of interesting stats. The Royals and their LH bats went 64-40 against starting RHP this year. If you bring the heat against them, they hit .284 on pitches 95 mph or higher. Also, you figure that Babe Murphy will cool off sooner or later, and that Cueto might want to have a good start or two before going on the market. I also give the Royals a plus for having been through this circus before, something that I think helped them get over the hump after getting thumped in Toronto.

    I’ll say Royals in six, but I’d much prefer that they do it in four!


    27 Oct 15 at 12:51 pm

  2. Mets in 5. Youth and skill > gritty gamers.


    27 Oct 15 at 1:47 pm

  3. I think I have batted a bizarro 1.000 this post season (every prediction wrong). But the Mets have looked like the best team in baseball these last few weeks.

    And as much of a Nats fan as I am, I really hope they aren’t killing these kids’ futures with all these innings.


    27 Oct 15 at 1:51 pm

  4. Wally, I feel the same way about the Met arms. I’m really afraid that something bad is going to happen to one or more of them, if not now, then next season. The scenario looks very similar to what the we-know-better Braves did, with disastrous results.


    27 Oct 15 at 2:14 pm

  5. Flags fly forever.

    Todd Boss

    27 Oct 15 at 3:42 pm

  6. I say that in jest, somewhat. I mean … generally speaking you only get a couple shots at a WS title in your career; is it worth it to risk injury to get a ring? Cal Ripken; debuted in 1981 … they win the WS in 1983, they don’t even make the playoffs for another 13 years despite his being one of the best players in the game for the duration. When you’re handed immediate team playoff success early on, do you realize that for most players its an incredible rarity to even have that opportunity? Not every team is a Yankees or Braves situation where year after year you make the playoffs.

    Todd Boss

    27 Oct 15 at 3:46 pm

  7. I’d say that your example assumes a long career, which is exactly what is being jeopardized for some of these pitchers. For fans, it’s easy to root for the uniform and want the players to max out the opportunity at hand, and damn the personal cost.

    But for the individual involved, if you asked them whether they’d trade a 12 year career for a two year one that includes a chance to play in the World Series, I doubt any of them would think that’s a good trade, including Cal. But medicine isn’t precise in this regard, so the choice isn’t phrased as cleanly.

    I think it’s reprehensible the way the Mets treated Harvey. They hung him out to dry in the media, and they didn’t offer to make him safe monetarily. Why not buy out his arb years with a 3/$30m deal and then ask him to push his limits in this go for it year? You are still getting a huge bargain. They didn’t because the system is set up to allow the team to exploit the players during this period in more ways than just cost control, and the Mets took full advantage. And because they’re cheap and the Wilpons suck.


    27 Oct 15 at 6:09 pm

  8. Scott Boras (Harvey’s agent) has a LONG memory . . .


    27 Oct 15 at 8:16 pm

  9. KW

    28 Oct 15 at 5:18 am

  10. A good rundown on Bud Black from a Padres beat reporter:

    Meh. A few things to like, a few not so much. Sounds like he doesn’t pay that much attention to offense, which the Nats desperately need. Also sounds like he has not been good in young-player development, which makes me fear a return to Matt W’s vet-preference mode. Davey was the one who loved to bring up the kids and give them a chance. The article also indicates that Black likes traditional bullpen role, again sounding a lot like the last guy.


    28 Oct 15 at 12:17 pm

  11. Excellent article from Boswell.

    Fact of the matter is this: we have no idea if Harvey made the right decision. And we won’t until if/when he blows out his elbow again. If it never goes … then the Nats and other teams look foolish for shutting down top pitchers. If he blows it next season, boy there’s going to be 100 “i told you so” articles looking at his workload in 1st year back.

    Todd Boss

    28 Oct 15 at 4:40 pm

  12. World Series takeaway: How do you beat the Mets and their young guns? Contact, contact, contact. If there was ever a call for the Nats to move on from swing-and-miss era of Desmond/Ramos/Espinosa/Taylor, it was the 4th inning of game 2. If you want to be competitive with the Mets, that’s how you do it. Even though part of me things the Nats should sell high on Escobar, he’s a high-contact guy.

    Meanwhile, it looks like we’re about to start the Bud Black era. Hard to get too excited about that, but at least we won’t be paying him for on-the-job training.


    29 Oct 15 at 5:10 am

  13. New-posted on Black, also quoted Boswell’s article.

    Todd Boss

    29 Oct 15 at 9:14 am

  14. I can NOT believe Cueto of all people threw a 2-hit shutout. The Mets are screwed. Royals go into game 3 with their “Ace” and seem set to steal at least one game in NY, meaning they can close out in game 6 at home. Or, exactly following my prediction 🙂

    Todd Boss

    29 Oct 15 at 9:15 am

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