5 storylines for Game 4 of the World Series
Royals veteran Young set to face Mets rookie left-hander Matz
1. Feeling Young
After a five-year battle for survival in the game, Chris Young has spent the past two seasons proving doubters wrong.
So far, so good. After working three scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the Royals' 14-inning Game 1 victory of the World Series against the Mets on Tuesday, the 36-year-old right-hander will draw the start in Game 4 tonight at Citi Field (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time), looking to bring Kansas City within a victory of its first championship in 30 years.
Young spent five years (2009-13) battling a series of injuries, which resulted in him making only 42 Major League starts, compiling an 11-15 record. That left teams hesitant to sign him this past offseason, even though he was 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA for the Mariners in 2014. He finally signed with the Royals the first week of March, receiving a $675,000 base salary.
Young has a chance to make a statement about his value, as he will again find himself facing free agency in the offseason.
The Royals' Game 4 starter is not the only potential free agent on the World Series roster, although with Kansas City holding club options on closer Wade Davis and shortstop Alcides Escobar, it would seem a no-brainer that they will both remain where they are.
Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, second baseman Ben Zobrist, and relievers Franklin Morales and Ryan Madson are unrestricted free agents on the Royals' roster. Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon has a player option, and outfielder Alex Rios has a mutual option.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, second baseman Daniel Murphy, pitchers Bartolo Colon and Tyler Clippard and infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson are potential free agents on the Mets.
For Young, the postseason is his opportunity to reaffirm to teams that he is healthy again and can contribute. During the 2015 regular season, he provided versatility for the Royals, going 11-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 34 games (18 starts), and he is 1-0 in three appearances this postseason -- two starts and a relief appearance -- with a 2.31 ERA.
2. Left turn
Mets rookie left-hander Steven Matz made a strong impression with his six regular-season outings. Matz made a start in June and one in July -- and posted wins -- but he was sent back to the Minor Leagues after both. With four solid outings in September, Matz claimed his spot in the postseason rotation
Now comes Matz's World Series debut, against Kansas City, which has a lineup that includes the left-handed bats of cleanup hitter Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Gordon.
Who has the edge?
The Royals fared well against left-handed pitchers during the regular season, finishing tied for third in the American League with a .272 batting average. Hosmer hit .279 against southpaws, Gordon hit .280 and Moustakas .282.
Kansas City has had limited exposure to lefty pitchers in the postseason, and it is hitting .226 against them. Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir both started for Houston in the AL Division Series, and David Price made two starts for Toronto in the ALCS. The Royals won three of those four games.
3. Lining up
Royals manager Ned Yost will make an adjustment in Game 4, most likely, so he won't have the left-handed-hitting Hosmer and Moustakas back-to-back.
Kansas City has used the same eight position players in all 14 postseason games. The only lineup change the Royals made so far was on Friday when they lost the designated hitter at Citi Field because the game was played in a National League park, so Kendrys Morales was on the bench. Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura hit ninth, with the four regulars at the bottom of the lineup moving up a spot -- Moustakas to fifth, Salvador Perez to sixth, Gordon to seventh and Rios to eighth.
Murphy, David Wright, catcher Travis d'Arnaud, Cespedes and Curtis Granderson have started all of the Mets' 12 postseason games. Lucas Duda has made 11 starts at first base, and Wilmer Flores 10 at shortstop.
4. Good hands
The Royals and Mets have combined for seven errors in the postseason, the fewest for two World Series teams in the Wild Card era. The Royals have been charged with two in 14 games, tied with the 2004 Cardinals for second fewest errors by a team with at least 10 postseason games. The 2015 Mets have committed five errors in 12 games.The 2008 Red Sox hold the all-time record with one error in 11 postseason games. Kansas City has allowed one unearned run and New York has allowed two.
5. Strong armed
The Mets' 3.18 ERA is the lowest of this postseason for teams that have played more than one game. The Yankees' staff posted a 3.00 in their AL Wild Card Game loss. The Royals' 4.25 ERA ranks fifth among the eight teams who advanced past the Wild Card Game.