Friday is here and the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets begins at 6:45 p.m. PT.
In Part III of our NLDS preview, we will finally compare the team’s strengths: pitching. We already looked at key stats, manager and bench comparison, as well as a position-by-position breakdown of the starting lineups.
The Dodgers and Mets ranked fifth and fourth, respectively, in overall team ERA this season, so let’s explore:
The Mets were known early in the season for their talented group of young, hard-throwing starters. This group carried the team for most of the year until Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright helped the offense turn things around.
While Matt Harvey is the shared face of the franchise with Wright, it will be right-hander Jacob deGrom on the mound for Game 1. The 27-year-old made 30 starts this year, finishing 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA, 2.70 FIP and 0.979 WHIP. He struck out 205 hitters in 191 innings. In his one start against the Dodgers, deGrom threw 7.2 innings and didn’t allow a run, but earned a no-decision thanks to a ninth-inning rally by the Dodgers. The All-Star pitcher had a 3.09 ERA on the road and a 3.53 ERA in the final two months of the season. He’s thrown the most innings in his career by over 40 innings and that could be a factor in October.
Game 2 was given to a rookie right-hander, Noah Syndergaard. Also known as “Thor”, Syndergaard was 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA, 3.25 FIP and 1.047 WHIP in 24 starts. He struck out 166 batters in 150 innings pitched. Back in July, he pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The right-hander struggled a bit down the stretch with a 3.98 ERA in his last 10 starts as well as a 4.23 ERA on the road the entire season. He’s also increased his total innings total by 17 innings.
Harvey will finally get the nod in Game 3, mostly because the Mets are watching his innings in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. He finished 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, 3.05 FIP and 1.019 WHIP in 29 starts. The right-hander struck out 188 in 189.1 innings and had his lowest K/9 of his career. He started two games against the Dodgers, although one was better than the other. He finished with 12 innings, 13 hits, six walks and five earned runs against the NL West champs. Unlike his fellow starters, Harvey managed a lower ERA down the stretch (2.24 in last nine starts) and he will get to pitch at home, where he was 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA. He will not have a limit in terms of innings during the game, but he is limited to one start in the series.
All signs point to left-hander Steven Matz getting the ball in Game 4 (if necessary). Assuming he’s healthy, Matz is the only lefty in the Mets rotation. If he can’t go, Bartolo Colon will likely get the start. Matz made six starts this season, going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 1.234 WHIP. He threw six shutout innings against the Dodgers on July 5 at Dodger Stadium. Matz threw a bullpen session and it appears his back is fine for a Tuesday start.
It’s the third straight postseason for the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of the rotation. Kershaw gets the start in Game 1 after a season in which he struck out 301 hitters to go with a 16-7 record, 2.13 ERA, 1.99 FIP and 0.881 WHIP. He led the league in innings pitched (232.2). The 27-year-old is considered the best pitcher on the planet, but has a questionable postseason history (1-5, 5.12 ERA). Most of his struggles have been against the St. Louis Cardinals though. He shut down the Mets this season, tossing 16 innings in two starts and allowing one run while striking out 18. The reigning MVP is on a mission to rid his playoff stigma.
For pretty much every other team, Zack Greinke starts Game 1. A 19-3 record with a league-leading 1.66 ERA and 0.844 WHIP will do that for you, but Kershaw is still the best there is. Greinke enjoys being out of the spotlight and focusing on getting a job done. He struck out 200 hitters in 222.2 innings. Against the Mets, the right-hander started two games, threw 14 innings and allowed just two runs with seven strikeouts. The Cy Young hopeful was slightly better at home (1.44 ERA vs 1.88 ERA), where he will get two starts if the series goes to Game 5.
In 2013 and 2014, the third game was for Hyun-Jin Ryu; however, he missed the entire season after shoulder surgery. Brett Anderson will be the man for Game 3 and it could prove a critical start for the Dodgers. Anderson was signed in the offseason to be the team’s fifth starter, but he was pushed to third after the losses of Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. The left-hander turned in his first full season since 2009 (his rookie year) and finished 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA, 3.94 FIP and 1.331 WHIP. He did not face the Mets this season. One thing that bodes well is that Anderson will start on the road, where he was 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA (compared to 3-5 with a 4.29 ERA at home). If he can keep the ball down, the Dodgers defense will back him up and they will be in good shape.
It’s more than a sure thing that Clayton Kershaw starts Game 4 on short rest; however, if that’s not the case, Alex Wood would be the starter. Wood came over from the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline and went 5-6 in 12 starts with a 4.35 ERA. He did suffer through two really bad starts that skewed those numbers a bit. Wood didn’t face the Mets as a Dodger, but he started twice against them as a Brave. He was 0-1 and tossed 13 innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned) with 13 strikeouts. Wood will be available out of the bullpen in Games 1-3 though, almost assuring that he won’t get a start in the NLDS.
Advantage: Dodgers (The Mets are probably better overall, but pitching Kershaw or Greinke in four of five potential games gives the Dodgers the leg up.)
CONTINUE READING: Who has the edge in the bullpen?