These NLCS Mets not Cubs whipping boys of summer

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NEW YORK – These are not your 0-7 Mets.

Not the 0-and-7 Mets against the Cubs, anyway.

Granted, the Cubs swept the National League East champions in seven games and outscored them 27-11 this season, a tough trick no matter how big the difference between any two teams, but the Cubs say they know the outfit they will face in the NLCS isn’t the same one they played in the middle of the summer.

All-Star third baseman David Wright returned from an injury Aug. 24 after being out for three and a half months. Slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes hit 17 homers and posted a .942 OPS after coming over from the Detroit Tigers before the trade deadline.

Share Events on The Cube“Obviously he’s a huge threat, especially in this lineup,’’ Cubs Game 1 starter Jon Lester said Friday. “That was a really good pick-up for these guys.’’

When he met the press mid-afternoon, Lester said he hadn’t boiled down the new Mets on video but he didn’t have to study tape to share this about Cespedes, who almost became a Cub as a free agent before the 2012 season and was rumored to be on the White Sox radar at this year’s trade deadline:

“What makes him even tougher is he can cover both sides of the plate at any given time,’’ Lester said. “So it’s not like you have him set up for a location later in the at-bat: It’s just a matter of trying to make a quality pitch and hopefully he hits it at somebody.’’

Cubs manager Joe Maddon, while reminding listeners the Cubs are also improved since these teams last met June 30-July 2, threw out the records for this one. Maddon said there is no comparison to the Mets lineup then and now. The Mets also added Kelly Johnson and Michael Conforto to the lineup. And on the pitching side, where New York is strong, Steven Matz was plugged into the rotation and Tyler Clippard and former White Sox Addison Reed to the bullpen.

“The only thing that matters is we know we can beat them,’’ Maddon said. “They know they can beat us because based on what they’ve gone through through this particular moment [getting here]. So I don’t think there is any real weight to be attached to [7-0] that whatsoever. They’re an entirely different team.’’

Now these are the kinds of things managers and players are going to say about an upcoming opponent. Lavishing praise is standard operation procedure. But the Mets truly are a different bunch.

“Obviously they are way different than when we played them earlier in the year,’’ third baseman Kris Bryant said.

“It’s a good matchup. They have some really good pitching and we do, too. The team that gets the big hits will win the series; hopefully it’s us.’’

The Cubs are a confident bunch after winning 97 games, and why wouldn’t they be after a 46-19 dash to the finish line over their final 65 games, followed by four wins in five postseason games. And now they face a team that hasn’t beaten them.

For a trip to the World Series.

“Confidence, yes,’’ Lester said, “but that can bite you in the butt. We can’t come in here and say ‘we’re 7-0 against these guys in the regular season.’ “

So there is a comfort level that can work for and against, Lester, the veteran voice, said.

“We can’t come in here knowing that we’re 7-0 and going to walk through this thing. We have to be on our toes and go out and play good baseball against this team.’’

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