Conforto in LF for Mets; Morales out for KC
The Mets, looking to begin a World Series comeback, have set their lineup for Game 3 tonight at Citi Field (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time). The Royals, aiming for a commanding 3-0 lead, have followed suit.
After losing the first two games at Kansas City, New York returns home and will send rookie Noah Syndergaard to the mound against the Royals' Yordano Ventura. As the action shifts to a National League ballpark, both clubs will make do without a designated hitter.
Sticking with Conforto
In Game 2, Mets manager Terry Collins used rookie Michael Conforto at DH, with Juan Lagares in center field and Yoenis Cespedes in left. With no DH tonight, he elected to keep Conforto's bat in the lineup over Lagares' glove, starting the former in left field and shifting Cespedes back to center, with Lagares on the bench.
That same outfield alignment didn't work out too well for the Mets in Game 1, when Cespedes couldn't catch Alcides Escobar's deep drive to left-center to open the bottom of the first inning, resulting in an inside-the-park home run.
Conforto is 0-for-5 in the series and 1-for-20 overall in the postseason, but that could be due in large part to some bad luck. He actually leads the Mets in average exit velocity by a wide margin during the postseason, per Statcast™, with his 97.1 mph figure ranking well ahead of Daniel Murphy's 89.4.
"This guy has had very, very good at-bats, and has nothing to show for it," said Collins during his pregame news conference. "But certainly we can't put what we're doing offensively on the shoulders of Michael Conforto. He goes up there and every time he gets in the batter's box, you think he's going to hit one in the seats."
With the exception of Syndergaard batting ninth in place of Lagares, Collins is using the same order as in Game 2, when Johnny Cueto held the Mets to one run in a complete-game effort.
1. Curtis Granderson, RF
2. David Wright, 3B
3. Murphy, 2B
4. Cespedes, CF
5. Lucas Duda, 1B
6. Travis d'Arnaud, C
7. Conforto, LF
8. Wilmer Flores, SS
9. Syndergaard, RHP
Follow the formula
Through Game 2 of this Fall Classic, Royals manager Ned Yost used the exact same lineup in all 13 postseason games. He had no choice but to make a change today, due to the loss of the DH.
Kendrys Morales, who had been cemented in the No. 5 spot in the order, will be on the bench at the start of Game 3. The switch-hitter has gone 1-for-7 with a walk in the World Series but is batting .250/.302/.500 with four home runs and 10 RBIs overall this postseason.
Yost didn't rock the boat any more than necessary, however, simply moving Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon and Alex Rios up one spot each, with Ventura batting ninth. Ventura, who has never taken a postseason plate appearance, is 1-for-10 with eight strikeouts in his career and went 0-for-6 with five K's this season.
Moustakas leads the Royals with four hits in the World Series, picking up two hits and an RBI in both games thus far. He has driven in at least one run in six of the past seven games, going back to Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. He's gone 9-for-29 (.310) with a homer and seven RBIs over that span.
1. Escobar, SS
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Moustakas, 3B
6. Perez, C
7. Gordon, LF
8. Rios, RF
9. Ventura, RHP