For the first time since back-to-back series -- separated by an offseason and a parade -- at the end of the 2015 season and the beginning of the 2016 season, the Kansas City Royals will host the New York Mets, beginning Friday night in the first of a three-game series.
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (8-5, 3.89 ERA) will get the start for the Mets, while left-hander Mike Montgomery (2-5, 5.19 ERA) will start for the Royals.
The Royals defeated the Mets in five games in the 2015 World Series, then opened the 2016 campaign by raising the world championship banner in front of their vanquished foes.
There aren't many players remaining on the two squads from the 2015 postseason.
The only active player on the Royals' roster is left fielder Alex Gordon, who delivered a clutch home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie Game 1 at 4-4. The Royals eventually won 5-4 in 14 innings.
The World Series MVP was catcher Salvador Perez, who has been on the 60-day injured list since spring training and will miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery.
Left-hander Danny Duffy, who appeared out of the bullpen in Games 1, 3 and 4 of the World Series, is on the 10-day injured list with hamstring tightness.
Ruben Tejada, who was injured in 2015 NL Division Series against the Dodgers and missed the 2015 World Series, rejoined the Mets on Wednesday after being gone from the team since that injury.
Syndergaard was the starter for the Mets in Game 3 in New York, the only game the Mets won in the series. He's riding a streak of six straight games with at least seven innings pitched, and he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career regular-season starts against the Royals.
Montgomery is coming off his best start since being acquired by the Royals in July. He pitched seven scoreless innings and set a career high with 12 strikeouts. He scattered four hits and didn't walk a batter.
Montgomery is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four appearances (two starts) in his career against the Mets, including 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief this season with the Cubs.
"It was pretty enjoyable to watch," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Montgomery's last start. "You could tell he was right from the onset. He was on top of his game. Twelve punchouts, no walks, commanding his pitches. I take it back, I think he went 3-0 on the first hitter, I thought, 'Oh man.' He ended up striking him out, striking out the second hitter, striking out the third hitter. He looked great."
The Mets are hoping to continue a hot stretch that has them in the thick of the playoff race. They're 10-4 in August, including an eight-game winning streak.
Rookie Pete Alonso, who has been the story for much of the year, has cooled a bit. But that's about to change, according to Mickey Callaway, the Mets' manager.
"He's getting kind of down about some of the outs he made," Callaway said Thursday before the Mets beat the Braves 10-8 in Atlanta. "We had a long talk after the game (Wednesday) about it, but he's performing better in the last 10 days than he did to make the All-Star team."
In his first at-bat Thursday night, Alonso slugged homer No. 39, tying the National League rookie record set in 2017 by the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger.
--Field Level Media