Tale of the Tape: Mets-Royals, Game 3
Two young, hard-throwing righties will square off in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday, when the Royals bring their 2-0 Series lead to Citi Field (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. game time). Kansas City has done an exceptional job neutralizing New York's expected starting pitching advantage over the first two games of this Series, and now turn to Yordano Ventura to help continue that trend against one of New York's prized rookies, Noah Syndergaard.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s, but expect these two flamethrowers to warm things up. According to Statcast™, Syndergaard was tied with the Yankees' Nathan Eovaldi for highest average fastball velocity among starting pitchers this season (97.4 mph). Ventura is next on the list at 96.8 mph.
Here's how the hurlers match up for Friday's Game 3.
Against the opponent
Career: Ventura has never faced the Mets in his career.
Loves/hates to face: The only Mets position player with experience against Ventura is center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is 1-for-7.
Why he'll win: This will be the ninth career postseason start already for the 24-year-old Ventura, so he's used to the stage, the expectations, and the stakes. That experience should come in handy in front of what projects to be a raucous crowd in Queens.
Pitcher beware: The average velocity of Ventura's sinker has dropped almost two miles per hour throughout this postseason, according to Brooks Baseball, while his usage of the pitch has risen almost six percent. Basically, while he's relying on his best pitch more and more, that pitch is losing quality. Fatigue could be an issue, though Ventura is still a ways below his innings total from a year ago.
Bottom line: Ventura righted himself after a disappointing American League Division Series, pitching into the sixth inning in both AL Championship Series starts, including Kansas City's clinching win in Game 6. He's still yet to repeat a performance as dominant as his in last year's World Series, when he posted a 1.46 ERA over two starts.
Against the opponent
Career: Syndergaard has never faced the Royals in his career.
Loves/hates to face: Syndergaard has never faced any of the Royals position players in the Major Leagues.
Why he'll win: Of Syndergaard's 233 pitches this postseason, 22 have sizzled in at 100 mph or more, according to MLB.com Gameday trackers. That's a whopping 9.4 percent -- super elite velocity from the 23-year-old. Even though the Royals' lineup is dotted with contact hitters skilled against fastballs, that kind of stuff is hard to catch up to for anybody.
Pitcher beware: Syndergaard hasn't allowed a home run yet in 13 innings this postseason, which sounds like good news. Unless it means he's due. Syndergaard allowed one home roughly every eight innings during his rookie season.
Bottom line: The Mets slotted Syndergaard for Game 3 at least in part because of his considerable home/road splits (2.46 ERA vs. 4.23 ERA). They need another superhuman effort from the man nicknamed Thor to avoid falling into a three-game hole.