NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cubs’ power bats, Mets’ power arms bid for World Series
The future is now for the emerging Chicago Cubs and New York Mets and will be played out over a best-of-seven clash with a trip to the World Series at stake.
The Chicago Cubs have been building a young, blockbuster offense with an aim to ending a century-old title drought.
The New York Mets have come out of hibernation on the arms of young fireballing pitchers after years of penny-pinching following a financial disaster for their owners.
Two teams that saw themselves ramping up to a golden age, have suddenly landed in the big time and will be squaring off in the National League Championship Series starting in New York on Saturday.
The Cubs have not won Major League Baseball’s title in a mind-boggling 107 years.
But Chicago, with sluggers including 23-year-old Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo (26), Jorge Soler (23) and Kyle Schwarber (22), have shown they are ready for the biggest stage, blasting a postseason record six homers in one game against Division Series victims St. Louis.
New York counters with a trio of rocket-armed starters in Jacob deGrom (27), Noah Syndergaard (23) and Game One starter Matt Harvey (26).
It might come down to which way the wind is blowing in the Windy City, where ivy-covered Wrigley Field becomes a home run haven when breezes blow out and a pitcher-friendly park when gusts off Lake Michigan blow in toward the batters.
The Cubs swept all seven games against New York during the regular season, but this is a different Mets team.
After years of shying away from big-name players and their salaries after the Mets-owning Wilpon family took a big hit from the Bernie Madoff financial scandal, the club recognized their 2015 opportunity and were aggressive at the trade deadline.
They bolstered an anemic offense by adding slugger Yoenis Cespedes and veteran bats in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, and added bullpen depth with reliever Tyler Clippard in moves that fueled a second-half surge.
Chicago has strong pitching at the top of their rotation in Game One starter Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, who was sensational in the second half of the season.
But the Mets’ Big Three hurlers goes the Cubs one deeper and they showed they are past the developmental stage by lifting New York past the Dodgers’ illustrious one-two duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in their Division Series.
The Cubs will have to make do without regular shortstop Addison Russell, 21, who is out with injury but have another talented youngster in 22-year-old Javier Baez filling in.
While the Wild Card Cubs are looking to reach their first World Series in 70 years, the NL East champion Mets also hunger for a first title in 29 years.
“Obviously they’re a great team, they’re rolling right now,” Mets third baseman David Wright said about the Cubs. “They’re hitting balls out of Wrigley, so we know that will be a huge challenge for us.”
Editing by Frank Pingue