2015 MLB LCS Preview: Which Teams Will Be World Series-Bound?
The Royals, Blue Jays, Mets and Cubs are still standing halfway through October. Which two teams are good enough to make the World Series? We’re about to find out. Here’s a preview of the 2015 American and National League Championship Series:
American League Championship Series
Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays
How They Got Here: The A.L. Central champion Kansas City Royals withstood the homer-happy Houston Astros in the ALDS and rallied to win games 4 and 5 to advance to their second consecutive ALCS. The defending American League champions held the best record in the American League for most of the season, and now they need four wins to reach a second straight World Series.
The A.L East champion Toronto Blue Jays rallied from two games down to Texas to reach their first ALCS in 22 years. In addition to getting power from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Josh Donaldson and outfielder Jose Bautista, Toronto’s pitching staff largely stifled the Rangers over the last three games of the series.
Season Series: Toronto has won four of the seven times the teams have met in 2015, including a game in August when things got heated. These same two franchises met in the 1985 ALCS, with Kansas City winning in seven games.
Why the Royals May Win: Working the Count & Flashing the Leather. The Royals have some power with Mike Moustakas, Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez, but the batting order is really good at getting pitch counts up and then hammering away at the bullpen (or weakened starters). Kansas City seems to catch everything in the air or on the ground. With home-field advantage, Royals starters can make mistakes in games at Kauffman Stadium and trust Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Alex Rios to run down the fly balls in the outfield. If they get a lead, closer Wade Davis slams the door.
Why the Blue Jays May Win: Going Deep. As witnessed in their Game 5 ALDS triumph over Texas, Toronto can explode at any time. Sluggers like Donaldson, bat-flipping Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion mean the Jays are never out of a game. Blue Jays pitchers David Price and R.A. Dickey match up well against their K.C. counterparts. If Toronto’s starters can go deep into games, they should win.
Game 1 K.C.: Edinson Volquez vs. Tor: Marco Estrada
Game 2 K.C.: Yordano Ventura vs. Tor: David Price
Game 3 Tor: Marcus Stroman vs. K.C.: Johnny Cueto
Game 4 Tor: R.A. Dickey vs. K.C.: Kris Medlen
ALCS Schedule (best-of-seven):
Game 1 Fri, Oct. 16 Toronto at Kansas City; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Game 2 Sat, Oct. 17 Toronto at Kansas City; 4:07 p.m. (ET) on Fox Sports 1
Game 3 Mon, Oct. 19 Kansas City at Toronto; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on FS1
Game 4 Tue, Oct. 20 Kansas City at Toronto; 4:07 p.m. (ET) on FS1
Game 5* Wed, Oct. 21 Kansas City at Toronto; 4:07 p.m. (ET) on FS1
Game 6* Fri, Oct. 23 Toronto at Kansas City; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on FS1
Game 7* Sat, Oct. 24 Toronto at Kansas City; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on FS1
* if necessary
National League Championship Series
Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets
How They Got Here: Though they were the second wild-card team in the National League, the Cubs had the third-best record in all of MLB in 2015, winning 97 games. Chicago ace Jake Arrieta shut out Pittsburgh in the N.L. Wild Card game, and then the big bats of Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and others beat up on arch-rival St. Louis in the NLDS. The Cubs advanced to their first NLCS since 2003.
The champs of the National League East, the New York Mets advanced to their first NLCS since 2006 by edging the Dodgers in a highly competitive five-game division series. The Mets got exceptional starting pitching from Jacob deGrom, and key home runs from second baseman Daniel Murphy and outfielder Yoenis Céspedes. Closer Jeurys Familia had an excellent series, too.
Season Series: The Cubs have won all seven games they have played against the Mets in 2015.
Why the Cubs May Win: The Right Team at the Right Time. The Cubs have looked better than any other team this postseason, dispatching the juggernaut Cardinals in what wasn’t that close of a series. Other than the absence of shortstop Addison Russell, who hurt his hamstring in the NLDS and has been ruled out of the championship series, Chicago is healthy and rested. Starters Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta should give the Cubs quality starts in potentially four of the seven games. The Mets' young arms could be tiring, which isn’t the case for the free-swinging young bats of Rizzo, Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.
Why the Mets May Win: Yo and Mo. The Mets scored just 11 runs in the seven games they played against the Cubs in 2015 -- and they lost all seven. However, all of those games occurred before Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto joined the Mets’ batting order. This is a much different New York team — one that just beat both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs’ arms won’t scare them.
Game 1 NYM: Matt Harvey vs. CHI: Jon Lester
Game 2 NYM: Noah Syndergaard vs. CHI: Jake Arrieta
Game 3 NYM: Jacob deGrom vs. CHI: TBD
Game 4 NYM: Steven Matz vs. CHI: TBD
NLCS Schedule (best-of-seven):
Game 1 Sat, Oct. 17 Chicago at New York; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 2 Sun, Oct. 18 Chicago at New York; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 3 Tue, Oct. 20 New York at Chicago; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 4 Wed, Oct. 21 New York at Chicago; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 5* Thu, Oct. 22 New York at Chicago; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 6* Sat, Oct. 24 Chicago at New York; 4:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
Game 7* Sun, Oct. 25 Chicago at New York; 8:07 p.m. (ET) on TBS
* if necessary