How will Cubs handle Mets fastballs?

Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

When the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets begin the NLCS Saturday, the first pitch of Game 1 will be thrown by Matt Harvey, beginning a fusillade of fire from New York's starting rotation.

The Mets bring the heat

New York's top three starting pitchers all ranked in the top 11 in the majors in fastball velocity this season.

Of pitchers who started at least 20 games, Noah Syndergaard led MLB with an average fastball velocity of 97.1 miles per hour; Harvey was fourth at 95.8; and Jacob deGrom ranked 11th at 93.4.

No other team had more than one starter among the top 14 in average fastball velocity this season.

That trio has also been effective with its power. All three were in the top 20 starters in both opponents' batting average and OPS during the regular season.

The heat continues at the back of the Mets' bullpen. At 97.1 mph, closer Jeurys Familia ranked seventh among all relievers this season in average fastball velocity.

The Cubs have an answer

Kyle Schwarber has grabbed headlines with his playoff power, becoming the first Cubs rookie with three home runs in a single postseason. But Kris Bryant has been Chicago's best weapon against the fastest fastball this season.

In plate appearances ending against a fastball of at least 94.5 mph, Bryant was in the top 25 in batting average (.330) and slugging percentage (.617), and he was second in the majors with 16 extra-base hits.

Other Cubs matched Bryant in these playoffs, as both Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler have two hits, including a home run, against fastballs at least 94.5 mph.

That's not to say Schwarber won't be dangerous. In his limited time in the big leagues, the pitcher he’s faced most is Gerrit Cole, who averages 95.6 mph with his fastball. Schwarber is 3-for-8 with a home run against Cole, though that bomb came off a silver in the Wild Card Game.