As the 2017 Major League Baseball season begins, USA TODAY Sports’ baseball staff lays out its bold predictions for the six months ahead:
It was arguably the most thrilling postseason in baseball history.
The year was 1986, culminating with the New York Mets’ wacky comeback in Game 6 of the World Series — making Bill Buckner infamous in World Series lore — and the Mets’ Game 7 triumph against the Boston Red Sox.
It would be another 18 years before the Red Sox would end their 86-year World Series drought and then win two more in a nine-year span. The Mets have reached the World Series twice since 1986 but have come away empty-handed, winning two Series games in the process.
Now, three decades and one year later, they will meet again.
This time, with the same outcome: The Mets winning the World Series.
The Mets, after experiencing a World Series hangover in 2016, with three of their starters fatigued after pitching more innings than they ever have in their careers, are prepared with a huge bounce-back year.
They will have the same magnificent four on the mound, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, as their vaunted 2015 class, with Robert Gsellman replacing Bartolo Colon. They’ll also have Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler, a 2009 first-round pick, waiting in the wings.
The Red Sox, who won the American League East last year, will repeat as division champs and be more equipped this time for the postseason.
They’ll have lefty ace Chris Sale, a perennial Cy Young candidate, in their rotation alongside Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, David Price, Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright, with Eduardo Rodriguez leading a group of stand-bys.
Price is expected to miss the first month of the season recovering from a tender elbow, but the Red Sox are convinced he’ll be fine, without the need of Tommy John surgery.
When these teams meet in October, it should be a glorious, old-fashioned pitching duel, resurrecting memories of 1986, when Boston’s Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst and Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd took on New York’s Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda.