OK, good news first: the Mets are just one win away from the NL Championship Series, where they’d square off against the Cubs for a chance to go to the World Series, where they haven’t been in 15 years (which is roughly equivalent to a dog year for Chicago fans, whose Cubbies haven’t played in the fall classic since 1945).
Now the bad: the guy they need to beat is Zack Greinke, arguably the best pitcher in baseball this year. They’ll face Greinke tonight at Dodger Stadium, where the hurler is especially formidable. He was 10-1 at home this season, with an ERA so minuscule you’d need binoculars to find it.
Those 10 victories don’t include the W Greinke got vs. the Mets last weekend, when LA’s Chase Utley kept his team alive by essentially obliterating Mets SS Ruben Tejada while breaking up a double play.
As incredible as Greinke has been this year, prior to Utley’s assault he’d basically been outpitched by the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. Again, the good news: the visiting team showed they can hold their own against the NL’s likely Cy Young winner. The bad: chances aren’t great they’ll be able to do so a second time, particularly with so much on the line.
Like Greinke, Jacob deGrom may not be the ace of his pitching staff, but he turned in the strongest 2015 campaign. The floppy-haired hurler was nearly as unhittable as Greinke in the first half of the season, but he tailed off a bit in the second. Still, in Game 1 of the series, deGrom was dominant, tossing seven shutout innings while K’ing 13 Dodger hitters and outdoing ace-of-aces Clayton Kershaw.
Can deGrom do it again? And if he can, will the Mets’ lineup be able to give him ample support by squeezing a few runs out of Greinke?
Both tasks are undoubtedly tall. But the Amazins have shown that they clearly belong here -- and by here, I mean at Dodger Stadium, playing against a franchise with a $314 million payroll (almost $200 million more than the Mets’) and a pitcher who’s had one of the best seasons of any hurler in decades, all for a shot to move one giant step closer to the World Series. They may not prevail, but you can be sure that they won’t go down easy.