The Dodgers may have the best 1-2 punch among Major League starting rotations, but the Mets have the deepest staff of all the playoff teams and could pull the series upset.
It could be a low scoring series between two teams with great frontline pitching and suspect offenses and that could lead to an upset when the favored National League West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers take on the upstart National League East Champion New York Mets in the best three-of-five NLDS, with Game 1 from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA set for Friday night at 9:45 ET on TBS.
The posted series price at 5 Dimes has New York as a decided underdog for this NLDS at current odds of +170.
How They Got Here
The Dodgers enter this series as the +200 favorites to win the National League Pennant at 5 Dimes and the third choice on the World Series Futures at +515 behind two American League teams, the Toronto Blue Jays (+310) and Kansas City Royals (+475). Los Angeles certainly has the best top two starting pitchers in the league in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but the rotation is very mediocre after that and the offense has been sporadic.
Speaking of sporadic offense, the Mets were 17th in the majors in runs scored with 4.22 runs per game and 28th in batting at .244, but they improved over the second half of the season after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes at the trading deadline. Add in the best pitching staff from top to bottom of any playoff team and the Mets were able to pull away from the disappointing Washington Nationals and win the East by seven games while going 90-72 as MLB picks.
Kershaw, Greinke But Then…
There can be no denying the greatness of the top two Dodger starters as they are probably two of the three best pitchers in the Major Leagues. Kershaw will get the start in Game 1, and all that he has done is win three Cy Young Awards in the last four years including the last two in a row. He was off to a slow start this season but was more himself the second half of the year, as he finished 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA while eclipsing the 300-strikeout mark (301)!
And Kershaw was not even the best pitcher on the Dodgers staff this year, as that would be the Game 2 starter Greinke, who finished 19-3 with a miniscule 1.66 ERA and 200 strikeouts vs. 40 walks in 222.2 innings. Greinke was the frontrunner for the Cy Young this year, but he now figures to finish second in the voting given the insane late-season streak by Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs.
Regardless, no team has a better pair of starters at the top of the rotation, but unfortunately that is where then quality starters end. Brett Anderson and Alex Wood figure to be the next two pitchers in line, or Los Angeles may simply opt to go with a three-man rotation and bring Kershaw and Greinke back on three days rest for the potential Game 4 and Game 5.
As for the offense, the Dodgers actually ended up scoring fewer runs than the Mets this year finishing 19th in the league with 4.12 runs per game, and their team batting average was just slightly better at a still pedestrian .250. And the Los Angeles bullpen remains a sore spot, ranking 19th in the Major Leagues with a 3.91 ERA.
Deeper Rotation and Better Bullpen
The Mets may not have two of the best pitchers in the league, but they have amazing depth and they all throw gas, which usually leads to post-season success. The top three starters Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey all top 95 MPH with regularity with Syndergaard even hitting 100 MPH on occasion. So while the top two starters do not have the overall stats of the Dodgers’ Big Two, they are certainly capable of blowing away the Dodgers’ offense.
And then having Harvey, who himself was considered one of the best pitchers in baseball two years ago before Tommy John surgery and who came back to go 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts vs. 37 walks this year, go in Game 3 at home should make the Mets huge favorites that game, probably over Anderson. And should both teams use their fourth starters, the Mets appear to have the edge there too with the ageless Bartolo Colon.
As mentioned, the offense perked up after the acquisition of Cespedes, who batter .337 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI in just 57games in a Mets uniform, and New York has the far superior bullpen ending with closer Jeurys Familia and his 43 saves in 48 chances.
Against just about any other team in the majors, having the duo of Kershaw and Greinke in a three-out-of-five series would be almost impossible to overcome. However, the Mets appear to be an exception with a staff that can keep New York in the game vs. the Big Two until the bullpens get involved, where the Mets have the clear edge. And the Mets certainly have the big advantage when comparing the third and fourth starters.
So while we realize probably having to beat Kershaw and/or Greinke twice would be necessary for the Mets to win this series, we feel that New York is up for this task and we are calling for the upset at very nice odds.
Mets in 5
MLB Pick: Mets +170 (series)