Cubs vs Mets: A Battle for the Ages

It’s a question as old as the sport itself: Elite pitching versus elite hitting, which wins out? The National League Championship may be our best chance to answer this age old question. The Mets and their rotation of pitchers that’s been compared to the all-time great rotation of Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz will take on a Chicago Cubs team that’s capable of changing the momentum of an entire series with just a few swings of the bat. Cubs vs Mets will feature some of Major League Baseball’s finest young talent with Chicago’s big bats against New York’s power arms.

John Smoltz said earlier this season that Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey may be the best 1-2-3 punch at the top of a rotation since his days in Atlanta when he, Maddox, and Glavine were terrorizing the National League pitching en route to an unprecedented run of playoff appearances. A look at their regular season numbers don’t do this staff justice. They managed to keep a mediocre team afloat before the team traded for Yoenis Cespedes and turned the team’s fortune around completely. deGrom was a bonafide ace posting a 2.54 ERA, 205 K’s, and a 0.98 WHIP while winning 14 games. Harvey posted very similar numbers with a 2.71 ERA, 188 K’s, and a 1.02 WHIP while Syndergaard (still very much considered an elite prospect for the future) had a line of a 3.24 ERA, 166 K’s, and a WHIP of 1.05. If you ignore the win/loss column, which most voters do, deGrom and Harvey had seasons that one could very well look at and consider them in that elite category of National League pitchers with Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, and John Lester. I would have never thought it possible but these guys have stepped their games up to another level this postseason by carrying the Mets when the offense couldn’t.

What can I say about the Chicago Cubs that I haven’t said already? These kids can flat out play. They’ll be without catalyst Addison Russell at the bottom of the order, but have a beyond serviceable replacement in Javier Baez to fill his role at shortstop. Baez may not be the special type of shortstop that Russell is defensively, but more than makes up for it with better power and a seemingly new approach to major league hitting this season that has seen him making more contact and striking out less. The Cubs’ run this postseason has also seen the re-emergence of Kyle Schwarber as quite possibly the most dangerous hitter in an already stacked Cubs lineup. Schwarber carried the offense while Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both struggled to find their strokes, but once they did this offense was absolutely ROLLING.

So what’s the answer? Does a potent offense beat an elite rotation? We won’t know the answer for a few days, but tonight should provide us some pretty good insight at how this series will play out. I think the players that end up deciding this series weren’t mentioned above. Jake Arrieta, at his best, can outpitch every one of the Mets’ big three. Yoenis Cespedes can go hit-for-hit with all of the Cubs’ young guns as well. Both Joe Maddon and Terry Collins both know the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and you can bet they’ll be exploiting both. Guys like Dexter Fowler or Daniel Murphy may very well end up deciding the outcome, but we’ll all be watching for other reasons. This series is going to be a classic. There are pitchers with Cy Young potential on both sides, there are everyday players capable of winning the MVP for both teams, and both coaches will be mentioned in the Manager of the Year race. But we’ll all be watching for one other reason: one of the most powerful lineups we’ve seen in a long time versus a pitching staff with seemingly unlimited potential. Cubs versus Mets, who wins? In a match-up this epic, with a trip to the World Series on the line, the entire world of baseball does.
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