Mets and Royals Set for World Series Rematch on Opening Night

This Sunday night, the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals will play in Kansas City to open up the 2016 MLB season. The game will be the last of four games being played on Sunday as part of Opening Day 2016. Both teams are very familiar with each other, as they faced off last October in the 2015 World Series.

The Royals will raise their World Series Championship Banner on Sunday night. It was just five months ago that they defeated the Mets in five games to capture their second championship in franchise history. As good as the Mets were, they could not handle the relentlessness of the Royals’ hitters. Kansas City’s shortstop Alcides Escobar especially hurt the Mets at the top of the lineup with his first-pitch aggressiveness. New York clearly had the better pitching in the World Series, but the Royals’  explosive offense overcame them.

Tensions will certainly be high on Sunday. For the Mets, the memory of the Royals celebrating after winning Game 5 at Citi Field is still fresh in their minds. The Royals are apparently seeking revenge as well, but for a much different reason. Game 3 of the World Series last year opened up with Noah Syndergaard throwing a pitch high and inside to Alcides Escobar. Clearly, this was meant to intimidate Escobar and to make sure he didn’t swing at the first pitch. The Royals didn’t take too kindly to this. They obviously didn’t retaliate right away, but reports came out this week that they’re planning on getting revenge. It’s unclear whether or not they will, but it’s definitely something worth watching for.   

It’ll be interesting to see if either team can get back to the World Series this year. The Mets boast one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball with Matt HarveyJacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Bartolo ColonZack Wheeler will join this stellar rotation later in the year, as he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Additionally, the team had a decent offseason, as they re-signed slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The also signed shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera and traded for power-hitting second baseman Neil Walker. With this team, the Mets have a good chance to get back to the World Series.

The Royals are in a similar situation. Their team is not that much different than the one that won it all in October. The only thing that has really changed at all is the starting rotation. Johnny Cueto left Kansas City this offseason and signed with the San Francisco Giants. Cueto basically became the team’s ace after he was traded to them from the Cincinnati Reds back in July. He had a stellar start in Game 2 of the World Series, helping the Royals jump out to a 2-0 series lead. To replace Cueto, the Royals signed Ian Kennedy. Their starting pitching really isn’t their strength anyway. Probably their biggest strength is their fantastic bullpen, which includes Kelvin HerreraLuke Hochevar, and Wade Davis. These three pitchers make up a very dangerous 7-8-9 combo. All three were vital during the Royals’ playoff run last season. Their offense will also be a major factor again this year. In addition to Escobar, guys like Alex GordonLorenzo CainSalvador PerezMike MoustakasEric Hosmer, and Kendrys Morales are all poised to have good years. This Royals team is just as dangerous as they were last season. It would be a surprise to no one if they reached the World Series for the third consecutive year.

When both teams take the field on Sunday night, there will certainly be a lot of excitement in the air. Opening Night of the baseball season is always a great night in the sports world. Matt Harvey will start for the Mets, while Edinson Volquez will go for the Royals. The 2016 MLB season is finally ready to commence. It’s time to get it started.

Opening Day 2016: What To Watch For

Ah, Opening Day. The field grass is trimmed up just right, fans from all over the country pack stadiums to see the MLB’s best perform, and another season of America’s favorite past time is underway.

With just over 40 days left until the MLB regular seasons first pitch is thrown on Sunday April 3rd, 2016, anticipation is mounting for baseball fans everywhere. A total of eight teams will start the season off on that Sunday, 20 more teams will begin play on Monday April 4th. 2016, and the Miami Marlins host the Detroit Tigers in their home opener on Tuesday April 5th.

That’s three days set to be chock-full of home runs, outstanding pitching, “web gems”, and will feature all 10 of last years playoff teams. So, with the regular season right around the corner, I’ll provide you with a rundown of five must see matchups, and some key players to keep an eye on:

 

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (PNC Park on Sunday April 3rd at 1:05 p.m. EST on ESPN)

Probable Pitchers- Adam Wainwright (STL) vs. Gerrit Cole (PIT)

Players to Watch: Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Matt Carpenter (STL), Josh Harrison (PIT), and Matt Holiday (STL)

Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Sunday April 3rd at 3:05 p.m. EST on FSW)

Probable Pitchers- Jon Lester (CHC) vs. Garrett Richards (LAA)

Players to Watch: Mike Trout (LAA), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Andrelton Simmons (LAA), and Kris Bryant (CHC)

New York Mets vs. Kansas City Royals (Kaufmann Stadium on Sunday April 3rd at 8:37 p.m. EST on ESPN)

Probable Pitchers- Jacob DeGrom (NYM) vs. Edison Volquez (KC)

Players to Watch: Yoenis Cespedes (NYM), Alex Gordon (KC), Neil Walker (NYM), and Lorenzo Cain (KC)

Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium on Monday April 4th at 1:05 p.m. on ESPN)

Probable Pitchers- Dallas Kuechel (HOU) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)

Players to Watch: Jose Altuve (HOU), Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY), Carlos Correa (HOU), and Starlin Castro (NYY)

Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field on Monday April 4th at 4:10 p.m. on Sports Time Ohio)

Probable Pitchers- David Price (BOS) vs. Corey Kluber (CLE)

Players to Watch: Michael Brantley* (CLE), Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Francisco Lindor (CLE), Mookie Betts (BOS)

 

Honorable Mention: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park on Monday April 4th at 4:10 p.m. EST)

The Phils and Red Legs game may not be a “must watch”, but growing up 30 miles east of Cincinnati, I felt compelled to recognize the rich history of Opening Day in Cincy.

 

Other Opening Series Players to Watch:

Jason Heyward- After switching National League Central teams this off-season from the Cards to the Cubs, posting a .293/.359./.797 slash line in 2015 with 79 runs, 13 home runs, and 60 RBI, Chicago will hope to see Heyward improve on those stats for 2016 in pursuit of the teams first World Series title since 1908.

Zack Greinke- Posting a 19-3 record, a 1.66 ERA, and 200 strikeouts with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, Greinke begins 2016 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greinke will likely be the D-Backs Opening Day starter against the Colorado Rockies on Monday April 4th.

Daniel Murphy- Despite losing his post-season magic in last years Fall Classic with the Mets, Daniel Murphy still posted a solid .288/.322/.770 slash line with 56 runs, 14 home runs, and 73 RBI  for 2015. Murphy begins 2016 anew with the Washington Nationals, and it will certainly be interesting to see how he affects a clubhouse that could use his positive attitude.

Johnny Cueto- The reunion of former Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez in last years post-season and World Series with KC was only temporary. After an 11-13 record with 176 strikeouts and a 3.44 ERA in 2015 (split between the Reds and Royals), Cueto will try to better those numbers with his new team, the San Francisco Giants in 2016.

 

(All probable pitchers are based solely off of team depth charts as of February 22nd,2016, and may be subject to change after Spring Training results)

(* Brantley may not be available to the Indians until April or May, as he is still recovering from a right shoulder injury)

(For a complete 2016 regular season schedule, visit MLB.com)

Final Thought:

I’ll simply end with a fitting quote from one of the games all-time greats:

You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.- Joe DiMaggio