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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

If you like good pitching, prepare to see plenty in Mets vs. Dodgers NLDS

Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets

Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals during game two of a doubleheader at Citi Field on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

On Saturday night against the Nationals, Matt Harvey threw six innings, allowed one unearned run and struck out 11. He was filthy.

His game score, a Bill James stat that puts a value on the quality of each start, was 73.

Harvey's opponent, Max Scherzer, threw a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts. Only an infield error prevented him from pitching a perfect game. His game score was 104 -- the highest in the majors this season.

Harvey hardly could have pitched better. He and the Mets still lost, 2-0.

As the Mets finished the regular season yesterday with their 90th win, a 1-0 decision over the Nationals, and turned their attention to the NLDS against the Dodgers, the Scherzer/Harvey scenario has to be a concern.

Let's call it the Kershaw/Greinke conundrum.

As in, the Mets could get lights-out pitching from their young studs and still get outpitched by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke -- especially if their bats are as cold as they were during the regular season's final week.

The Mets, who snapped a five-game losing streak on Curtis Granderson's eighth-inning home run, scored two runs in their final 43 innings. That won't cut it against the Dodgers.

"Let's go beat L.A.!" David Wright told fans after the game. He might as well have said, "Let's go beat Kershaw and Greinke!" The rest of the Dodgers' staff is rather pedestrian.

"If those two guys that we're going to see in Los Angeles pitch anything like that guy [Saturday] night, I mean, holy cow," manager Terry Collins said. "And they can. It's a great challenge. For me, this is what major-league baseball's about. To face the best pitchers, to face the best players, the best teams, and go compete. So it's going to really be fun to get out there on Friday."

The pitching matchups are fascinating. Do you prefer Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Harvey, with their total lack of postseason experience? Or do you go with L.A.'s big two, who could start four of a possible five games, and probable Game 3 starter Alex Wood?

Kershaw and Greinke have extensive postseason experience, but not with the results you would expect. In 11 games (eight starts), Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA. In last year's NLDS against St. Louis, he was 0-2, 7.82. Greinke is 2-2, 3.63 in seven postseason starts.

Still, Kershaw and Greinke at their best have proved to be better than the Mets' big three at their best this season.

Going into Sunday, there were 40 starts with game scores of 88 or better. Kershaw had four of them, including a 97 last Tuesday, when he one-hit the Giants and struck out 13 in the Dodgers' NL West clincher.

Kershaw also had a 92 against the Mets on July 23 at Citi Field. He threw a three-hit shutout and struck out 11.

Greinke, who had a MLB-best 1.66 ERA, had only one game score as high as 88. His peak performances weren't as overpowering as Kershaw's, but he was more consistently excellent.

The only Met with a top-40 hit was deGrom, who earned a 91 for his eight shutout innings (one hit, 11 strikeouts) against St. Louis on May 21.

On Sunday, deGrom and Kershaw both aced their Game 1 tuneups. DeGrom threw four hitless innings, walked two and struck out seven (game score: 67) in a 72-pitch effort. Kershaw needed 60 pitches to blank the Padres for 32/3innings, allowing two hits and striking out seven (game score: 64).

The Mets didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the seventh, when Clint Robinson lined a two-hopper off Ruben Tejada's leg with Jon Niese pitching.

It's a shame we all have to wait until Friday for the NLDS to start. If you love pitching, this is the series for you.

"We plan on winning," Collins said. "We plan on moving forward."

At least they know exactly whom they have to get through to do that.

New York Sports