Kansas City Royals @New York Mets
Saturday, October 31
5:07 pm PT on FOX
Kansas City Royals (2-1) @New York Mets (1-2)
Chris Young vs. Steven Matz
In his career, Young has allowed a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .247. This is around 50 points below the league average for starting pitchers during his career. There are pitchers every year who do well at limiting BABIP, but most don’t do it on a consistent basis over a 10-year career like Chris Young has.
Young is an extreme fly ball pitcher. In baseball, starting pitchers induce ground balls around 45% of the time. Young’s career ground ball rate is 26.4%. On the flip side, his fly ball rate is 55%, compared to a league average around 34%, and he has induced pop ups on 15.2% of the balls he’s allowed to be put into play, compared to a league average generally around 10%. Put it all together and you have a pitcher who allows many easily-catchable fly balls and pop-ups, while limiting ground balls. Allowing so many fly balls has hurt Young in the home run department, as he’s allowed slightly more home runs per nine innings than most pitchers. Overall, though, Young’s ability to induce weak contact has allowed him to pitch effectively in the big leagues for 11 years despite a below-average strikeout rate and non-elite walk rate. We’ll have to see if he can continue to be effective against the Mets on Halloween night.
Steven Matz is a New York native born on Long Island to a family that has been longtime fans of the New York Mets. When he was 10 years old, the left-handed Matz began receiving pitching lessons from former MLB hurler Neal Heaton. In high school, he won the Yastrzesmki Award as the best high school player in Suffolk County.
Matz was drafted by the Mets in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery in 2010, which delayed his professional debut until 2012. He moved through the minor leagues in 2013 and 2014 and started this season at AAA before coming up to the Mets in June for his Major League debut. He won his first start and drove in four runs, setting an MLB record for RBI by a pitcher in their debut. He pitched well again in his second start, throwing six scoreless innings, but was placed on the DL with a torn latissimus dorsi muscle and would miss almost two months. The injuries limited Matz to six starts in the Major Leagues this year, but he was quite good, going 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings.
Matz started Game Three of the NLDS against the Dodgers, who countered with Clayton Kershaw. Matz had a rough third inning in that game that saw him give up three runs. That was enough for Kershaw to get the victory. Matz ended up going five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out four.
In the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, Matz started Game Four. The Mets jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings and it looked like Matz would get his first post-season victory, but he was pulled from the game after pitching 4 2/3 innings (allowing one earned run), so he didn’t qualify for the win.
It’s the seasoned veteran against the talented youngster. Matz has better stuff, while Young uses his 6’10” body to throw a deceptively effective fastball that doesn’t light up the radar gun. A win for the Royals would nearly seal the deal, while a Mets’ victory would change the whole feel of this series.