Terry Collins no longer has to walk a tightrope worrying about innings for his young pitchers, so that should be a huge boost for the Mets in the postseason. Don Mattingly might have to reach the World Series to keep his job, but Kershaw and Greinke give him that chance.
Michael Confortos plate discipline for a rookie is uncanny, and the Mets love his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Confortos .931 OPS with runners in scoring position was also appreciated. Andre Ethier resurrected his career for the Dodgers, posting an .852 OPS, and Carl Crawford gives the team another dependable veteran option.
Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey all finished the season strong and will be the rock upon which the Mets base their hopes of advancing deep into the postseason. Syndergaard struggled on the road for much of the season, but those concerns were assuaged in September, when he looked sharp in starts in Atlanta andCincinnati. Its unclear if banged-up Steven Matz would get a chance to pitch a fourth game or if the Mets would turn to Bartolo Colon or deGrom on short rest.
When the Mets and Dodgers were last seen together on a postseason stage in 2006, it was no contest. The Mets swept the Dodgers in the NLDS that year, but other than David Wright the faces have changed completely.
Lucas Duda finished the season strong after slumping upon his return from the disabled list in early September. The Mets slugger hit 27 homers and actually had a higher OPS against lefties than righties (.878 to .824). Adrian Gonzalezs numbers dipped after the All-Star break, but he still finished with 28 home runs and is capable of carrying a lineup. Gonzalez had a 1.166 OPS against the Mets this season.
Daniel Murphy moved around the infield, playing three different positions because of injuries, but that instability didnt keep him from finishing with a typically productive season that included a career-high 14 homers. Murphy still tests his managers patience with his base running, and his range always has been an issue. Chase Utley was a non-factor over 32 games for the Dodgers after arriving in a trade with the Phillies, posting a .654 OPS, but has plenty of postseason experience. Howie Kendrick returned from injury late in the season and does a solid job at the position.
The Dodgers have a modern-day Koufax and Drysdale combination in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, both of whom figure to finish in the top three in NL Cy Young voting. But there is a drop-off once the Dodgers get to Brett Anderson, who was a decent but unspectacular starter this season, and lefty Alex Wood. Dont be surprised if Kershaw and Greinke combine to pitch four times in a five-game series.
David Wright returned from spinal stenosis and was a productive piece of the Mets lineup in the final six weeks. The Mets captain finished with an .814 OPS and was steady at third base. Justin Turner has developed into a legitimate force in his two seasons with the Dodgers since the Mets unloaded him. Against right-handed pitching, Turner had a .904 OPS this season and 11 of his 16 homers came against righties.
In limited action because of injuries Travis dArnaud had a breakout year offensively, which included pounding lefties to the tune of a 1.112 OPS in 52 plate appearances. If there is a concern for the Mets its dArnaud disappeared in the final month. Yasmani Grandal made an All-Star Game appearance for the Dodgers and then disappeared completely in the second half, with a .498 OPS.
Here are your matchups for what should be a bicoastal thriller.
Curtis Granderson was the most consistent force in the Mets lineup this season and held the team together before the reinforcements arrived in July. Granderson reached base at a .364 clip and hit 26 homers. Yasiel Puig battled injuries all season and returned from a pulled hamstring for the last series, but he has struggled at the plate. Scott Van Slyke is another solid option for the Dodgers.
The Mets hit the jackpot on the Yoenis Cespedes deal at the trade deadline. Though Cespedes quieted in the final two weeks of the regular season, his 17 home runs over the final two months are a big reason the Mets won the NL East title. Joc Pederson appeared ready to run away with Rookie of the Year honors at the All-Star break, but he hit just .178 in the second half with six homers.
Most notably, the Dodgers have elite aces in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Mets have more rotation depth, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. But it very well could be the bullpens that determine the outcome of this series, and the Mets seem to have more depth.
Kelly Johnson and Michael Cuddyer give the Mets two valuable veteran bats off the bench and Flores can help, but Juan Uribes absence because of a chest injury weakens the unit. Jimmy Rollins certainly has no shortage of postseason experience and history against the Mets. And Puig or Van Slyke coming off the bench in the late innings could be a threat. Justin Ruggiano brings another dependable bat.
Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard were two important late-season acquisitions for the Mets, and both will be entrusted with getting the ball to Jeurys Familia when the Mets have a lead in the late innings. Hansel Robles was steady late in the season, and Jon Niese could be a useful lefty option. The Dodgers have Kenley Jansen and his 0.783 WHIP to handle the ninth, and veteran lefty J.P. Howell is effective in the setup role, but they could use more consistency from a crew that includes Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez.
Ruben Tejadas stock couldnt have been much lower heading into 2016, but after a slow start this year, he produced at an acceptable level following the All-Star break. Included was a .362 on-base percentage in the second half. Wilmer Flores has been bothered by back spasms and sickness recently, but brings power (16 homers) to the position. The Dodgers have a keeper in Corey Seager, who posted a .986 OPS in 27 games after arriving from the minors. Seagers .425 on-base percentage was most noteworthy.