NYC vs. Second City: Who has the edge?
Either the Mets or the Cubs will represent the National League in the 2015 World Series, with the two clubs set to square off in the NL Championship Series.
Along with a strong duo atop their starting rotation, the Cubs boast a lineup chock full of young sluggers. Speaking of youth, the Mets will lean heavily on a formidable starting rotation consisting entirely of some young stars of their own, while their lineup will be anchored by veteran hitters.
The NLCS will start on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Citi Field (TBS), but for now, here's a position-by-position breakdown for the upcoming series.
Catcher: The Mets were hoping for a breakout year of sorts from Travis d'Arnaud, but two separate injuries forced him to miss a sizable chunk of the regular season. He still managed to hit 12 home runs in just 67 games, an encouraging sign following the 13 homers he hit over 108 games as a rookie in 2014. Though d'Arnaud went just 3-for-19 (.158) in the NL Division Series, he did hit another home run and poses a legitimate threat to do so any time he steps into the box. On the other side, Miguel Montero is coming off a disappointing NLDS in which he went hitless in nine at-bats, while striking out six times. He, too, has flashed some pop, hitting 15 home runs this season, though he'll likely concede the Game 1 start -- and any other game started by Jon Lester -- to David Ross. Slight advantage: Mets
First base: Though Lucas Duda hit a team-best 27 homers this season, he's certainly been a streaky player for the Mets. For proof, look no further than just the past few weeks, when Duda went 9-for-17 with five homers, three doubles and 15 RBIs over a five-game stretch from Sept. 23-29. Now, fast forward to the NLDS, in which Duda went 2-for-18 series with 11 strikeouts. Anthony Rizzo, on the other hand, has provided a consistent force in the middle of the Cubs' lineup all year. The 26-year-old finished with 31 homers, 101 RBIs and even stole 17 bases, all while playing in an NL-leading 160 games. Clear advantage: Cubs
Second base: Despite losing the starting shortstop job earlier in the season, Starlin Castro has been swinging a hot bat since re-entering the Cubs' lineup as a second baseman. From the time he made his first start at second base on Aug. 14 until the end of the regular season, Castro hit a blistering .353/.374/.594 with six home runs. While certainly impressive, Daniel Murphy enters the NLCS on a tear of his own after homering twice off fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw in the NLDS before taking Zack Greinke deep for what proved to be the series-clinching home run. Slight advantage: Mets
Shortstop: Unfortunately, both teams lost their starting shortstop to injury in their respective NLDS victories. The Cubs will be without Addison Russell, who strained his left hamstring while legging out a triple in Game 3, while the Mets are without Ruben Tejada, who fractured his leg on Chase Utley's controversial takeout slide in Game 2. With that in mind, it will now be up to Javier Baez for the Cubs and Wilmer Flores for the Mets. Though Flores hit 16 homers during the regular season, Baez flashed his offensive potential by going 4-for-5 with a home run and a stolen base in his two games after stepping in for Russell. Slight advantage: Cubs
Third base: In perhaps the most intriguing position matchup of the entire series, NL Rookie of the Year Award front-runner Kris Bryant is pitted against a veteran and seven-time All-Star in David Wright. Despite missing a majority of the season -- and his career reportedly being in jeopardy at one point -- Wright returned to the lineup on Aug. 24 and looked every bit himself down the stretch. After hitting a respectable .289/.379/.434 in 38 games during the regular season, however, Wright went just 1-for-16 with seven strikeouts in the NLDS. Bryant, meanwhile, hit .275/.369/.488 with 26 homers, 99 RBIs and 13 stolen bases during the regular season, then added another home run in the NLDS. Slight advantage: Cubs
Left field: Though Kyle Schwarber has quickly become a household name this year due to his towering home runs, fellow rookie Michael Conforto has flashed plenty of power of his own. In fact, Conforto's .506 slugging percentage in 56 games during the regular season was actually higher than Schwarber's .487 mark in his 69 games. Schwarber did outhomer Conforto 16-9 during the regular season -- and 3-1 so far this postseason -- but Conforto strikes out less often and offers better defense. In a near tossup between rookies, the nod goes to Schwarber by the slimmest of margins. Slight advantage: Cubs
Center field: Yoenis Cespedes wasted no time endearing himself to Mets fans after being acquired from the Tigers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The slugger hit .287/.337/.604 with 17 home runs -- including four of the game-tying or go-ahead variety in the sixth inning or later -- in his 57 games after joining the Mets. The immediate fan favorite then added two more home runs in New York's NLDS victory over the Dodgers. Chicago's Dexter Fowler is no slouch in center field, however, having spent the majority of the season setting the table atop the Cubs' lineup. A dual threat on offense, Fowler finished the season with a career-best 17 home runs to go along with 20 stolen bases -- not to mention his 84 walks, another personal best. Fowler could certainly impact the game in many ways, but Cespedes' propensity to alter a game on any given swing gives him the small edge. Slight advantage: Mets
Right field: Jorge Soler opened the NLDS on an absolute tear, going 4-for-4 with two home runs and five walks to reach base safely in each of his nine plate appearances through three games. That said, Soler was sharing time with fellow outfielder Chris Coghlan down the stretch and could quickly return to a platoon situation if his bat cools off. For the Mets, meanwhile, Curtis Granderson is coming off a strong showing in the NLDS, going for 7-for-18 (.389) with five RBIs and a stolen base. He was also the Mets' top position player throughout the season, clubbing 26 home runs and easily leading the team's position players in WAR. Slight advantage: Mets
Bench: Though the Cubs' bench took a hit by needing Baez to fill in for Russell, Chicago still has plenty of late-game options at Joe Maddon's disposal. Assuming Maddon decides to keep Soler's hot bat in the lineup, the Cubs can turn to Coghlan for his bat, as well as Austin Jackson for either his bat, speed or defense in the later innings. The leadership of Ross can't be overlooked, either. The Mets obviously have options, with the speedy Juan Lagares waiting in the wings, as well as the bats of Michael Cuddyer and Kelly Johnson. Slight advantage: Cubs
Rotation: Jake Arrieta was in the midst of one of the most dominant pitching stretches in Major League history before finally appearing mortal in his lone NLDS start. Though he could very easily regain his near-unhittable form in the NLCS, the Cubs have less overall rotation depth beyond Arrieta and Game 1 starter Lester than do the Mets. Even with Jacob deGrom not being available until Game 3 after starting the NLDS clincher on Thursday, the Mets will roll out fellow ace-caliber arms in Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard before turning to deGrom, who proved in the NLDS that he's more than capable of matching anyone pitch for pitch. Slight advantage: Mets
Closer: Not only have Hector Rondon and Jeurys Familia been vital to the success of their teams, the closers posted nearly identical numbers throughout the season. Rondon finished with a 1.67 regular-season ERA over 72 games, while Familia turned in a 1.85 ERA in 76 outings -- and both pitchers had an identical WHIP of exactly 1.000. It doesn't get much closer than that, but the slight edge goes to Familia, due in part to his 5 1/3 scoreless innings in the NLDS, including a two-inning save in a series-clinching one-run victory in Game 5. Advantage: Mets