Mets laying waste to the popular narrative


Sports media would have you believe that the NLCS is a matchup between the New York Mets’ power pitching and the Chicago Cubs’ power bats. Equally prevalent is the storyline that says Joe Maddon is the key to breaking the ‘Curse of the Goat’, and that everyone outside of New York, Toronto and Kansas City believes the Cubs are a team of destiny. It’s taken all of two games to show us that these storylines are nothing but convenient sound bites.

1. The Pitching

The rhetoric says the Mets have the arms, but it’s the Cubs who have the pitchers. The Mets own the radar gun, but it’s the Cubs who have the Cy Young candidate in Jake Arrieta and the proven postseason veteran in Jon Lester. Two games into the NCLS, and that storyline is out the window. It is the Mets starters who have displayed the savvy and poise of veterans and given their team a 2-0 lead.

According to, the Cubs actually had a higher SO/9 at 8.81 compared to the Mets’ 8.23 — despite the perception that it is the Mets pitchers who rack up the strikeouts.

On the other hand, Mets pitchers walked only 2.36 per nine innings versus 2.51 for the Cubs. Even more significant, the Mets pitchers live in the zone at a 46.9% rate compared with 43.5% for the Cubs. Bottom line, the Mets pitchers get strikeouts, but they don’t look for strikeouts.

The rest of the country has found out what we as Mets fans already knew: Mets pitching is about more than the radar gun. Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz are complete pitchers, regardless of their age.

This is not about the future; the future is right now for Mets pitching.

2. The Power

There is no doubt that Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are dazzling offensive talents. Yet the Mets out-homered the Cubs 177 to 171 in 2015. The Cubs scored more runs, 689 to 683, but the Mets had the advantage in the second half, 373 to 354.

The Mets may not get the same press, but they are just as effective an offensive unit as the Cubs. It’s two Daniel Murphy home runs that have helped propel the Mets, notKyle Schwarber‘s tape measure shot in garbage time.

The difference between the two teams on offense is more nuanced than home runs. Most significantly, the Mets put the ball in play more often. According to FanGraphs, the Mets SO/9 for the year was 21.0% versus 24.5%, and their contact rate was 79.7% to the Cubs’ 74.8%. If you think this is nitpicking, you weren’t watching the first two games of the NLCS.

Twice the Mets have stolen runs against stingy Cubs pitching in the first two games by working the count and either drawing walks or putting the ball in play and making things happen.

In the seventh inning of Game 1, Juan Lagares singled against Lester, and after a sacrifice bunt by Harvey, stole third when he knew Lester would not throw to second to keep him close. Lagares would then score on a Curtis Granderson sac fly.

In Game 2, it was Granderson who worked a walk against Arrieta, stole second, then third, and ultimately scored on an infield single by Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets are patiently grinding out runs against top-flight pitching and not waiting for the long ball.

3. The Goat

By now we all know that the ‘Curse of the Billy Goat’ revolved around a four-legged critter named ‘Murphy’. Flash forward 70 years to the 2015 playoffs and the G.O.A.T. isDaniel Murphy. Watching ‘Murph’ hit five home runs off of Cy Young caliber pitchers, including Arrieta and Lester, you have to question whether the Cubs are really the team of destiny.

We’re only two games into the NLCS, but it’s the Mets getting the postseason power-display-to-remember from a guy who hit 14 home runs all year.

As good as Matt Harvey was, the Cubs hit three line drives right at Mets fielders in Game 1. Harvey had another hit him in the arm, pop in the air and land right at his feet, leaving him just enough time to get the out. Sometimes you just smile and shake your head.

Want another sign that it’s not the Cubs’ year? If the Cubs are a team of destiny, why is it that they are the ones losing patience with the umpires? It’s Maddon and Miguel Montero showing frustration by arguing balls and strikes. It’s Rizzo and Schwarber who are muttering to themselves on the way back to the dugout.

The Mets just go about their business.

As reported by ESPN after Game 2, Maddon was quoted as saying Arrieta was “ambushed” and “certainly held serve.” That’s some serious spin right there. It’s the Mets who look like the team that knows good things are about to happen, instead of explaining away why they haven’t.

These narratives are just as paper thin as the stories about the history between Maddon and Terry Collins. As forced as it is, it’s just about as meaningless as the perception that Maddon is a baseball genius who is leading the Cubs to the promised land. Maddon is a great manager and likely will win the NL Manager of the Year, but it’s as much about a 100-year drought as anything.

It’s only two games, but the script that would be written by on-air experts has been torn up and thrown out. Don’t let the narrative fool you. The Mets are a special team, doing special things.

And the fun continues in Chicago with deGrom on the mound.

Next: Syndergaard has matured since 8th grade

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