Restoring the rosters: No. 20 – New York (NL)

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
The second third of the rankings kicks off with the Mets, a team with two superstars and a cast of mediocrity. At least they do still have the superstars on their current squad. Most of the other quality players signed by the team were shipped off long before without ever having a chance to make a mark.
A.J. Burnett
Scott Kazmir
Brian Bannister
Mike Pelfrey
Jon Niese
Heath Bell
Octavio Dotel
Matt Lindstrom
Bobby Parnell
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Joe Smith
Of the 12 pitchers above, Pelfrey has the most wins as a Met, with 26. Heilman is next with 22. No one else is in double figures. Mota, who was originally signed as a position player in 1990, won five games for the team between 2006 and ’07.
The top three starters were traded for Al Leiter, Victor Zambrano and Ambiorix Burgos.
It is a pretty solid pitching staff, though. Obviously, it’d be better if Kazmir still had the same stuff he did a couple of years ago, but Bannister is more than holding his own in the AL and Niese appeared to be on the verge of becoming a possible No. 3 starter before getting hurt earlier this month. The bullpen has some big-time arms, but it is missing a lefty. The best options there are Billy Traber and Lenny DiNardo. Fortunately, Heilman and Mota have usually been pretty good at retiring southpaws.
SS Jose Reyes
3B David Wright
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Jacobs
C Jesus Flores
2B Kaz Matsui
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Daniel Murphy
INF Ty Wigginton
OF Angel Pagan
OF Jay Payton
OF Lastings Milledge
C Raul Casanova
If you want, you can stick one of those lesser hitters in between Reyes and Wright in the order. I wouldn’t. Also, if the team absolutely has to include a true utilityman, it’s going to have to be Double-A shortstop Ruben Tejada. Reyes isn’t going to get any days off either way.
The lineup is definitely OBP challenged apart from Reyes and Wright, but there’s still some nice power in the middle and speed at the end. Wigginton and Payton should start over Jacobs and Murphy against left-handers. If Milledge ever comes around, then Jacobs and Murphy can battle for playing time at first base.
The Mets’ lack of patience with prospects has been a problem, but as one can plainly see, the team hasn’t produced a whole lot of talent through the years. Part of the problem is that the team has given away first-round picks recently, but even after accounting for that, GM Omar Minaya’s drafts have been disappointing. A recent influx of Latin American talent should help — players like Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia and Tejada could all play key roles in a couple of years — but it remains to be seen whether Minaya will be around to see it happen.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.