Last year, the Chicago Cubs owned the New York Mets during the regular season but were swept out of the NLCS. This year, the Mets are 5-1 against Chicago and have won nine of their last 10 games against the Cubs dating back to last season.
So, if the Mets (50-43) meet the Cubs (56-37) in the playoffs, could they win a seven-game series?
“I don’t (think so),” USA Today MLB writer Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I just think the Cubs are a better team. Last year, remember the Cubs were 7-0 against the Mets in the regular season but got swept in the playoffs. Remember how the Mets dominated the Dodgers that year in ’88? They won 12 out of 13 and then of course the Dodgers beat them in the ’88 playoffs and won the World Series. There can’t be too much carryover.”
The Dodgers, meanwhile, were among the short list of teams with a legitimate shot of reaching the World Series, but Clayton Kershaw suffered a setback during his recovery from a lower back injury, and his return date is uncertain. Kershaw, 28, is on the disabled list with mild disk herniation, and has not pitched since June 26.
“Not a good sign at all,” Nightengale said. “You figure he’s going to be out until at least mid-August, if not longer. The Dodgers can make all the moves they want, things can go right, but if they don’t have Clayton Kershaw, they’re done. They can’t survive without that guy.”
The Dodgers (53-42) are atop the NL Wild Card and trail the Giants (57-37) by 4.5 games in the NL West. But without Kershaw, who is 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP and 145 strikeouts to just nine walks, they’re a mediocre ball club, one that may look to deal Yasiel Puig before the trade deadline – as hard as that may be.
Puig, 25, is hitting .256 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and a .318 OBP in 76 games.
“I actually don’t think they’re going to get enough for him,” Nightengale said. “They’ve been shopping this guy forever. I think during the winter, they started shopping him and ownership said, ‘No, let’s give this guy another chance. Let’s hold off here.’ Now I think everybody is just kind of frustrated and exasperated. The problem is, everybody knows Puig, so if the Dodgers want to dump this guy who’s only making about $9 million a year, why should someone else take on the Dodgers’ problem? I think he’s more likely (to be traded) in the offseason.”