NLCS: Retooled Mets ready for Cubs

Anthony Rieber

Mets fans believe it’s been a long time since the team last won the World Series?

Try being a Cubs fan.

The Mets last hoisted the World Series trophy in 1986.

The Cubs last did it in 1908, when the World Series trophy was a block of wood.

Maybe that last part is not true. What is fact is this: These two historic franchises with hungry fan bases will meet in the National league Championship Series starting tonight at Citi Field.

The Mets finished off the Dodgers on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Division Series. The Cubs ousted the Cardinals in four games.

The Cubs and new manager Joe Maddon beat the Mets in all seven meetings this season — four games in Chicago on May 11-14 and three in Flushing, N.Y., from June 30-July 2. The Cubs outscored the Mets, 27-11, and allowed one run in three games at Citi Field.

The four Cubs who started in the Division Series against the Cardinals — Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel — were a combined 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in six starts against the Mets.

Of course, all seven games against the Cubs were played before the Mets underwent a midseason makeover and added Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Michael Conforto to the offense, Steven Matz to the rotation and Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed to the bullpen.

David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud were injured and missed all seven games. Uribe is injured and is expected to miss the Championship Series.

“The Cubs won 97 (games), we won 90 and the difference in the two records was the 0-7 that we had against the Cubs,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said after Thursday’s Game 5 victory over the Dodgers. “But this is a different team. The young pitching that we have has a little more experience. The offense is better. But they’re a very good team. They’ve got great pitching. And some outstanding young and experienced hitters as well.

“So it’s going to be a great series. We’re happy they’re on their way to New York.”

In the last Cubs victory over the Mets on July 2, Arrieta outpitched Jacob deGrom, 6-1. But the Mets lineup included Darrell Ceciliani, Eric Campbell and Johnny Monell. John Mayberry Jr. was the lone pinch hitter used by Terry Collins.

DeGrom was 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against Chicago. Noah Syndergaard was 0-1, Matt Harvey threw seven shutout innings in a no-decision, and Matz hasn’t faced the Cubs.

Of course, the postseason is a whole new ballgame, and Mets fans can be buoyed by a bad memory from their own history. In 1988, the Mets were 10-1 against the Dodgers during the season before losing to them in seven games in the NLCS.

Maddon was the bench coach when Collins was the Angels’ manager in the late 1990s. The two are close friends.

The Cubs and Mets, who are former NL East rivals, have never faced each other in the postseason. The 90-win Mets hold home-field advantage over the 97-win Cubs because the Mets won their division while Chicago was a wild card.

The Cubs beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh in the wild-card game behind 22-game winner Arrieta before vanquishing the archrival Cardinals, who took the NL Central with 100 wins.

The Cubs have a lineup filled with young sluggers. The Mets have a rotation full of young studs. It should be fun.