MLB: In NLCS, Mets Beat Cubs in the Battle of Rookies, Too
The 2015 NLCS between the Mets and Cubs featured several different dynamics, the most interesting of which was the battle of young pitching phenoms versus young sluggers. After a convincing four-game sweep by New York, it was clear the Mets had the edge with their flame-throwing rotation that featured two poised rookies. From the Cubs, we saw a number of sloppy plays by rookies in the field and not much in the way of offensive production.
Technically speaking, the Mets only had two rookies starting in the four games, but both carried the team to victory. In Game Two, Noah Syndergaard (5.2 IP, 1 ER, 9 SO, 1 BB) got the win over Jake Arrieta. Game Four featured Steven Matz icing the Cubs for 4.2 IP (1 ER, 4 SO, 2 BB) while falling just short of qualifying for the win. As for the Cubs rookies starting for Joe Maddon, the returns were far more mixed.
Kyle Schwarber launched a few home runs but hit .143 overall and looked exposed on several occasions in left field. Jorge Soler thumped his way to a club-leading .417 average but only drove in one RBI and looked sloppy in right field. Kris Bryant managed just a .214 average with his one home run coming in garbage time during the Game Four rout. Bryant, the likely 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, also added a botched play at third that cost the Cubs earlier in the series.
All in all, the Mets rookies brought far more to the table in terms of on-field impact, and it made a huge difference in the series, even if Daniel Murphy’s historic showing and the quartet of Mets starters wrote the main narrative. The Cubs lived and eventually died by their rookies.
We previously wondered whether good hitting was finally getting the best of good pitching in the 2015 MLB postseason, but deGrom et al put that theory to bed this NLCS. Between the reigning Rookie of the Year’s lockdown performance in Game Three and Matt Harvey’s dominant Game One start, Cubs rookies hardly had a chance.
Not that the club’s more experienced players could touch Mets pitching, either. Anthony Rizzo (.214, 0 RBI), Dexter Fowler (.250, 1 R), and Starlin Castro (.125, 1 RBI) reflected an across-the-board funk perpetrated by Amazin’ arms. (Let’s not forget the electric Jeurys Familia’s scoreless 4.2 IP and three saves while we’re at it.) As a team, Chicago hit .164 with a putrid .522 OPS across the four games.
These numbers reek of total domination, with much of it attributable to the Mets rotation and Familia. But those miscues in the field and the inability of Cubs hitters to come through in the clutch can’t go overlooked. This NLCS was all Mets, and the difference between the two teams may have been the most obvious in the play of the the club’s rookies. Compared to what the Cubs got from their freshman class, it wasn’t even close.
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