Five storylines for Game 1 of World Series
There has been plenty of discussion about Matt Harvey, the Mets' Game 1 starter, and his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, which he underwent in October 2013. Edinson Volquez, the Royals' Game 1 starter, also underwent the procedure in August 2009 when he was with Cincinnati.
This will be at least the third World Series featuring two pitchers who had Tommy John surgery starting against each other, according to a review of pitchers listed on the Tommy John Surgery List compiled by @MLBPlayerAnalys.
Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who underwent the surgery in 2003 after signing his first professional contract with Boston, and San Francisco right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who had surgery in 2002, faced off against each other in the Giants' 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the 2012 World Series. Vogelsong earned the victory with 5 2/3 shutout innings. Sanchez allowed two runs in seven innings.
A year earlier, right-hander Colby Lewis of the Rangers, who had the surgery in 1996 at the age of 16, and St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia, who had the surgery in September 2008, started against each other in Games 2 and 6 of the World Series. They both had no-decisions. The Rangers won Game 2, 2-1, and the Cardinals won Game 6, 10-9, in 11 innings.
Tommy John, who had the first known successful ligament reconstruction surgery on his pitching elbow on Sept. 25, 1974, started games in the 1977 and 1978 World Series for the Dodgers against the Yankees, and was 1-1 with a no-decision and 3.92 ERA, and then for the Yankees against the Dodgers in the 1981 Fall Classic, when he was 1-0 with one run allowed in 11 innings over two starts.
The Royals have three other pitchers on the roster who underwent Tommy John surgery -- reliever Luke Hochevar and swingmen Kris Medlen and Chris Young. Mets pitchers Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz also underwent the procedure.
EXPANDING THE PROCESS
This is the first World Series featuring two teams from the expansion era, which began with the 1961 AL addition of the Angels and Senators, who eventually moved to Texas, and the Mets and Houston joining the NL in 1962.
There were 21 prior World Series with an expansion team, and the expansion team won nine times, starting with the Mets beating the Orioles in 1969. The expansion team lost the next four trips to the World Series -- the Mets to Oakland in 1973, Royals to Phillies in 1980, Brewers to Cardinals in 1982 and Padres to Tigers in 1984.
The Royals beat the Cardinals in 1985, starting a stretch in which an expansion team won eight of 10 World Series in which one appeared. The Mets beat the Red Sox in 1986, the Blue Jays beat Atlanta in 1992 and Philadelphia in 1993, and the Marlins beat Cleveland in 1997.
After the Padres and Mets lost to the Yankees in 1998 and 2000, respectively, Arizona defeated the Yankees in 2001, the Angels beat the Giants in 2002, and the Marlins beat the Yankees in 2003.
The last six World Series involving an expansion team saw the expansion team lose -- the Astros to the White Sox in 2005, the Rockies to the Red Sox in 2007, the Rays to the Phillies in 2008, the Rangers to the Giants in 2010 and Cardinals in 2011, and the Royals to the Giants in 2014.
The Mets are making an expansion-best fifth World Series appearances, and the Royals are second with their four appearances. The Padres, Blue Jays, Marlins and Rangers have appeared in two apiece. The Blue Jays and Marlins won both times. The Padres and Rangers lost both times.
Of the 14 expansion teams, Washington (originally Montreal) and Seattle are the only clubs to have never advanced to the World Series.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Something has to give in Game 1. Neither the Mets nor the Royals have won a Game 1 in the World Series.
After dropping Game 1 in 1969, the Mets rebounded to win the next four games against Baltimore to claim their first World Series championship. They also rallied to beat Boston in seven games in the 1986 World Series. They lost Game 1 to the A's in '73 and the Yankees in 2000.
The Royals rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat St. Louis in 1985, but lost in six games to Philadelphia in 1980, and in seven games to San Francisco last season.
The winner of Game 1 has won 70 of the 110 previous World Series, and 16 of the past 18, according to STATS, Inc.
The Royals have home-field advantage. It didn't help last year, but thety have enjoyed their time at home this postseason, winning five of six games. They knocked off Houston in five games in the AL Division Series, winning two of three games at Kauffman Stadium, and in their six-game elimination of Toronto in the ALCS, they were 3-0 at home.
The Mets, however, won't be intimidated. They were 41-40 on the road during the regular season, fourth-best in the NL, and they were 4-1 on the road in the first two rounds of the postseason. They took two of three games at Dodger Stadium in the NL Division Series, and won two games at Wrigley Field in their four-game sweep of the Cubs in the NLCS.
The core of the Royals is homegrown, but they had 10 players appear in the ALCS who were not with the organization a year ago -- right-handed pitchers Johnny Cueto, Ryan Madson, Medlen, Young and Volquez; left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales; backup catcher Drew Butera; second baseman Ben Zobrist; DH Kendrys Morales, and outfielder Alex Rios.
The Mets used only five additions from a year ago in the NLCS -- right-handed pitchers Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed; outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Cuddyer, and infielder Kelly Johnson. A sixth could join the World Series roster -- infielder Juan Uribe.