On the brink: Royals and Mets near World Series

By the time you read this, it is very likely the matchup for the 2015 World Series will already be set. At midweek it certainly appeared firm. The defending American League champion Kansas City Royals neared another pennant with a dazzling display of total baseball in defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 14-2 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 series lead with a chance to clinch in Canada on Wednesday. Game six will be in Kansas City on Friday night. In the National League, the New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 at Wrigley Field Tuesday night, to gain a 3-0 series lead with game four set for Wednesday night. Game five would be on Thursday night.

The Royals came out of nowhere and rode a hot streak into the Fall Classic a year ago, vanquished in seven games by the San Francisco Giants and a pitching performance for all-time from Madison Bumgarner. Most experts continued to question this team, but it was clear from spring training they still had the makings of a contending ball club. They surged to the top of the American League Central by the end of April and never let it go. A strong finish got them home-field advantage, and they appear certain to get a chance to make amends in this year’s World Series.

It has been a display of total baseball for the Royals. It is a team so versatile there are no situations for which they are unprepared. Always known for a dynamic bullpen, Kansas City has bolstered their offense from a year ago. They have power bats in Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer; all-around hitting in Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon; speed in Lorenzo Cain; and the steadiness of catcher Salvador Perez, who has taken hold of a young pitching staff. The Blue Jays have been no match for them, nor has anyone else in the American League all season.

The National League has seen a collision, the first of several to come, between the Mets and Cubs. The Mets have assembled one of the most impressive young starting rotations the game has ever seen in Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. Add to them Zach Wheeler who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the Mets have arms to build around. New York also found a premiere closer in Jeurys Familia, who saved the first three games of this NLCS.

Chicago has put together a core of young power that will keep the Cubs in contention for many years to come, including: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Addison Russell (missing from this series due to a hamstring injury). The young arms of the Mets have tied the young bats of the Cubs in knots the first three games of the series, holding them to only five runs. Amazingly, through three games, the Cubs had zero leadoff hits in innings all series.

The World Series is set to begin next Tuesday, October 27 at the American League champion, likely Kansas City. Comebacks are possible, and the Royals themselves came from 3-1 down to beat the Blue Jays before in 1985. There has been one comeback from 3-0—the 2004 Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees in the ALCS. The Red Sox President was Theo Epstein, also the architect of the 2015 Cubs. So Toronto and Chicago knew what was possible, but Kansas City and New York were already getting set for what was likely, a first-ever meeting in October.