So far during the first two games of the NLCS the New York Mets pitching has bested the Chicago Cubs and their heavy hitters to take a 2-0 series lead. The combination of good pitching by the Mets and cold weather completely shut down the Cubs offense. The next three games of the series will be back at Wrigley Field, where there should be more runs than what we have witnessed so far.
Jason deGrom, the team leader in wins this season, will be taking the mound for the Mets in this game. The right handed flamethrower has dominated in the playoffs so far. In two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, deGrom is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and has stuck out 20 batters in just 13 innings.
The Cubs actually had success against deGrom earlier this season. He suffered a loss in both games he started against the Cubs and only lasted a total of 10⅓ innings. The Cubs tagged deGrom for 12 hits and seven earned runs (6.10 ERA) while only seven players struck out.
The Cubs will turn to Kyle Hendricks to snap the losing streak. Hendricks started game two of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, which ended up being the first game the Cubs in the series. The Cubs would like to see a getter game from Hendricks against the Mets. Hendricks only lasted 4⅔ innings, giving up three earned runs, but did manage to strike out seven Cardinals.
At the only start against the Mets during the regular season, Hendricks looked impressive. He pitched 6 innings without giving up a run and struck out six. The Cubs will need another performance like this one if they want to have a chance at still taking the series.
The Mets have not needed the bat of Lucas Duda so far in this series, but eventually they will. This could be the game that he breaks out of his slump. In seven games this postseason, Duda has just 2 hits in twenty one at bats (0.95 BA). He has two hits in four at bats against Hendricks, with one of those hits being a home run. Wrigley Field is more of a hitters park than Shea Stadium, which will help Duda find his swing again.
The Cubs did not face the Mets after they traded for Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes has really upgraded the Mets offense in the second half of the season. He has not yet played at Wrigley field, but should enjoy it more than Shea Stadium. On the season, he hit .291, with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs. This will be the first time he sees Hendricks also.
Anthony Rizzo has struggled so far this postseason and will need to turn it around if the Cubs want a chance to come back to win the series. He is hitting just .167 with two home runs, which were both solo shots. Rizzo owns a .333 batting average against deGrom and one of those hits was a home run. Rizzo has been the Cubs leader all season, so look for him to get the runs started in game three.
Rizzo is not the only Cubs power hitter to hit a home run against deGrom this year. Rookie Kris Bryant also went yard off deGrom earlier this season. Bryant has also struggled at the plate in the postseason by hitting just .185 and one home run. The Cubs middle of the order will need to get things going on offense if they want to extend the NLCS.