The NLCS has numerous storylines beyond the history between the Cubs and Mets. The series was immediately billed as a match-up between the Cubs’ young power hitters and the Mets’ young power pitchers. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro and Javier Baez versus Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.
As for the Cubs’ starters Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks have good numbers against the Mets’ offense, both this season and in their careers.
A lot will be made about the Cubs winning all seven games against the Mets during the regular season. Both teams are quite different offensively from earlier in the year while maintaining basically the same starting staffs. The Cubs swept the four games at Wrigley Field (May 11-14) and took all three at Citi Field (June 30-July 2).
The Cubs showed steady improvement as the rookies learned how to play in the majors. Kyle Schwarber made an impact and lengthened the lineup. Kris Bryant had a sensational second half after struggling somewhat for around six weeks in the middle of the season. The Cubs will have to deal with the loss of Addison Russell. Javier Baez has a chance to step in and make an impact like he did in Game 4 of the NLDS. The Cubs also added Austin Jackson and he could play a big role in the NLCS like he did in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Since July 2, the Mets acquired Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe and Yoenis Cespedes. Both David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud are healthy. And the Mets called up Michael Conforto and Steven Matz.
The Cubs offense batted .250/.328/.436 in the second half. The Cubs were second in home runs in the National League (94) and tied with the Diamondbacks for second in the NL in OPS (.754). The Cubs led the league in walks (274), strikeouts (719) and were tied for second in OBP (.328).
The Mets hit .257/.328/.443 after the break. The Mets led the NL in home runs (102) and OPS (.770). The Mets were third in walks (251) and tied with the Rockies for eighth in strikeouts (604).
The Mets led the National League in runs scored (373) after the break and the Cubs scored the second most runs (354) in the NL.
On the pitching side in the second half, the Cubs had a staff ERA of 3.42, second in the NL and led the league in WHIP (1.15). The Cubs walked 186 batters, 11th in the NL, and led the Senior Circuit in strikeouts (677).
The Mets’ staff had the seventh best ERA (3.72) after the break, the fourth best WHIP (1.19). The Mets walked the fewest batters (168) while striking out (635) the fourth most in the National League.
The Cubs saw the second most pitches in the majors (24,645) during the regular season. It will be imperative for the Cubs to make the Mets’ young starters work and get into a questionable bullpen as early as possible. The Mets had the fifth worst bullpen in the NL in the second half in terms of ERA (4.20) and were eighth in the league in FIP (3.84).
Terry Collins has not announced his starters beyond Game 1. Noah Syndergaard is expected to start Game 2 on Sunday with Jacob deGrom getting the ball for Game 3 at Wrigley on Tuesday. It is unclear at this point if Collins will use Steven Matz or Bartolo Colon for Game 4.
Matt Harvey made one start against the Cubs this season. Harvey allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings on May 13 at Wrigley. Harvey walked two and struck out nine in a game the Cubs won 2-1. Jason Hammel kept up with Harvey and allowed one run on five hits in eight innings.
The Dark Knight has faced the Cubs twice in his career. Harvey is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 0.70 WHIP (two runs on eight hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings).
Harvey was quite a bit better against right handers (.218/.242/.286) than left handers (.226/.287/.355) this season. Plus, lefties hit 15 of the 18 home runs that Harvey allowed this year.
Cubs Career Numbers against Matt Harvey
- Chris Coghlan: 3-for-8 with one double
- Dexter Fowler: 1-for-9
- Miguel Montero: 3-for-5 with one double and three walks
- Starlin Castro: 2-for-6
- Anthony Rizzo: 1-for-4 with one double and one walk
- Austin Jackson: 1-for-4
- Kris Bryant: 1-for-3
- Chris Denorfia: 0-for-3
- David Ross: 1-for-2 with one double and one walk
- Jorge Soler: 0-for-3
Noah Syndergaard made his Major League debut against the Cubs on May 12 at Wrigley. The Cubs beat a shaky, but rather impressive Syndergaard. The Cubs won the game 6-1 and scored three runs on six hits with four walks off Syndergaard, who struck out six batters.
Syndergaard was a different pitcher at Citi Field than on the road. And multiple reports have Thor starting Game 2 at home against Jake Arrieta. Syndergaard was 7-2 in 12 starts at Citi Field with a 2.46 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. In 12 road starts, Syndergaard was 2-5 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Noah Syndergaard
- Kris Bryant: 2-for-3 with one triple
- Starlin Castro: 1-for-3 with one double
- Chris Coghlan: 1-for-2 with one home run and one walk
- Dexter Fowler: 0-for-3
- Miguel Montero: 0-for-2 with one walk
- Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-1 with two walks
- Jorge Soler: 2-for-3
Of the four Mets’ starters, the Cubs have the most experience with Jacob deGrom. The Cubs handed deGrom two of his eight losses in the regular season. And deGrom is 0-2 in three career starts against the Cubs with a 6.46 ERA and 1.70 WHIP.
In the two meetings this season, one at Wrigley and one at Citi Field, deGrom was 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. deGrom allowed eight runs, seven earned, on 12 hits with six walks and seven strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
Jacob deGrom dominated right handers during the regular season. And lefties hit 12 of the 16 home runs he gave up during the year. Left handers batted .245/.283/.357 against him in 2015 while right handers managed a .181/.225/.228 slash line.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jacob deGrom
- Starlin Castro: 2-for-8 with one walk
- Anthony Rizzo: 3-for-9 with one home run
- Chris Coghlan: 1-for-4 with two walks
- Tommy La Stella: 0-for-5
- Kris Bryant: 1-for-2 with one home run and one walk
- Chris Denorfia: 1-for-3
- Dexter Fowler: 1-for-1 with one walk
- Miguel Montero: 1-for-3
- Jorge Soler: 0-for-2
- David Ross: 0-for-2
- Travis Wood: 1-for-2 with one home run
The Cubs have not faced lefty Steven Matz at the big league level. Matz was not as good on the road (2-0 in four starts with a 2.45 ERA and 1.27 WHIP) and he was at Citi Field (2-0 in two starts with a 1.98 ERA and 1.17 WHIP) over a very small sample size.
Right handers managed a .250/.269/.358 line against Matz in his six big league starts while left handers hit .250/.400/.200 against him.
It is unclear if Bartolo Colon or Steven Matz will be the Mets fourth starter in the series. With the young arms starting to run out of gas, Colon could have a big impact on series regardless if he starts a game or not. Colon is a crafty pitcher at this point of his career and would be quite the contrast for the Cubs after facing Harvey, Syndergaard and deGrom.
Bartolo Colon made one start against the Cubs this season. Colon did not allow a run over seven innings and the Cubs managed three hits and a walk. Colon struck out eight and kept the Cubs guessing throughout his start. The Cubs won the game 2-0 at Citi Field in 11 innings. Starlin Castro and Miguel Montero delivered the hits in extra innings. Left handers (.290/.309/.405) hit better than right handers (.272/.298/.423) against Colon this year.
Cubs Career Numbers against Bartolo Colon
- Austin Jackson: 5-for-17 with one double and one walk
- Starlin Castro: 3-for-6 with one double and one walk
- Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-6
- David Ross: 0-for-2 with two walks
- Kris Bryant: 0-for-3
- Chris Coghlan: 0-for-3
- Dexter Fowler: 0-for-3
- Tommy La Stella: 1-for-3
- Chris Denorfia: 0-for-1
- Miguel Montero: 0-for-1