By: Ross Sutton, Rob Schardt, and Sam Gagliardi
Finally, after about 7 months of baseball, the World Series is finally here, and it should be a great matchup between the two best teams in the MLB. Quite frankly, the Red Sox rolled through what many people (including myself) thought would be a really good American League playoff bracket. This shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise considering they won 108 games in the regular season, but it seems that I overrated the Yankees and Astros a bit coming into the playoffs. The Dodgers on the other hand, started slow in April this year, but figured it out by the time the playoffs rolled around and played well enough to beat the Braves 3-1 and the Brewers 4-3 in the NLDS and NLCS, respectively.
These two teams are pretty similar overall, as they have good starting pitching, solid bullpens, and completely stacked offenses. If I had to give an edge to either side when it comes to starting pitching, I would say the Dodgers have the better overall group, but the Red Sox have the best starter in the series, Chris Sale (if he’s healthy but that situation seems pretty murky right now so who knows). The Dodgers have a great one-two punch in Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill behind them. The Red Sox starters include Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, and Rick Porcello. Sale is dominant when healthy, David Price has not pitched well in the playoffs over his career (except against the Astros in the ALCS), and Eovaldi and Porcello are pretty solid. The reason I lean towards the Dodgers in this aspect of the series though is because Kershaw and Buehler have been pretty consistent this postseason while Sale’s health has been an issue this postseason and David Price has not been consistent during the playoffs over his career, to say the least.
When it comes to the bullpens, I think the Dodgers have the advantage, but it’s close. The guys in each teams’ bullpen are all fairly comparable, except the closers. In my opinion, this is where the Dodgers have the clear edge. Craig Kimbrel has been raising the blood pressures of Red Sox fans this whole postseason and he currently has an ERA of 7.11 during the 2018 playoffs. Compared to Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen who has not allowed a run this postseason over 6.2 innings, Los Angeles clearly has the better closer in this series.
Both teams have incredibly explosive offenses, as either one could rattle off big rallies at any moment. Throughout the season, the Red Sox have had the better offense, but when they are forced to play without a designated hitter during the three games in L.A., Boston will have to make some adjustments as MVP candidate J.D. Martinez has almost exclusively been the teams’ DH in 2018. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue worth discussing as most teams would simply move Martinez to right field where he plays when is not the DH, but Boston has the best right fielder in the league in Mookie Betts, which causes a bit of an outfield logjam for Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox. There have been rumors that Boston might move Betts to second base during the games played at Dodger Stadium, but that remains to be seen. Overall, I think this will be a highly competitive series, but I have to give the Dodgers the slight edge.
Ross' Final Prediction: Dodgers in 6
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
The victor of Game 1 will win the 2108 World Series. The Dodgers have the superior pitching edge, while the Red Sox have the superior hitting advantage. Normally, I favor pitching over hitting in a long series, but the mercurial Dodgers offense worries me. They heavily rely on the home run ball and some games they simply do not show up, swinging and missing too often. Conversely, I have no qualms about the Red Sox offense. Even with Mookie Betts — the likely AL MVP — only hitting .205 this postseason, the Red Sox are still mashing baseballs on a consistent basis.
Game 1 will be so important for two reasons. First, the Dodgers must have the dominant Clayton Kershaw in this series. If he can win the first game on the road, it should take the pressure off of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler when they both make their World Series debuts in Games 2 and 3. Secondly, the Red Sox are a perfect 5/5 on the road this postseason. This means if the Dodgers cannot pull out one of the first two games they’ll not only have to win at least two games in LA, but they’ll probably have to win all three, or face the daunting reality of winning both Games 6 and 7 back in Fenway Park. With all that said, I’m going with my gut here and choosing to believe in Kershaw and the Dodgers. Watch for NLCS-MVP Cody Bellinger to be an important x-factor with his timely hitting, speed and defense. I also love the two motivating factors of being the underdog and losing last year’s World Series.
Sam's Final Prediction: Dodgers in 7
For the Dodgers to bring home the title, they need to continue to put runs across the plate. They have struggled this post season in coming up in the clutch, but if they can do this, they have a solid shot of winning ball games. The Dodgers have relied heavily on the long ball all season, as they set a franchise record, 234 home runs. The Dodgers need to score runs to compete with the Red Sox and with guys like Manny Machado, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger in their lineup, this is more than possible. This may be one of the last times that Machado will be in Dodger blue, so why not go out with a bang.
The Dodger rotation is one thing that does scare me. It has been super up and down this post season and you really do not know what side of the pitcher is coming out. It is hard to trust their rotation especially with guys like Walker Buehler and Hyun-Jin Ryu having a roller coaster rides of a post season. What has been a nice little story line is that of “post season Clayton Kershaw”. Kershaw has had himself a nice post season and has not lived up to the Kershaw that has struggled in years past. If the Dodgers rotation can limit the Red Sox big hitter, they give themselves a great shot at winning the series. The Dodgers has been pretty effective as of late and posted a combined 1.45 ERA in their series against the Brewers. The Dodger bullpen will definitely have to come up big if they would like to keep Red Sox runs to a minimum.
The Red Sox are just an overall special team. Their offense is something special and has beat the Yankees and the Astros. Those two teams are of the best in the entire league and the Astros especially have the best rotation in the league and the Sox made them look silly. Their lineup from top to bottom is putting up runs and Jackie Bradley Jr. is taking over their offense as of late, as surprising as that may be. As long as their lineup is putting up runs I don’t really see them losing and if guys like Chris Sale and David Price come to play, it will be hard to beat them. Nate Eovaldi and Rick Porcello have also pitched very well as of late and I think this rotation, right now is more effective than the Dodgers.
Outside Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox bullpen has been good, but Kimbrel is the closer and needs to step up and shut down lineups at the back end of games. The Red Sox defense has also been lights out as of late as we have seen some amazing catches including, Andrew Benintendi making the game saving catch in game 6. Flawless defense will win you games and the Red Sox have a pretty solid group if not the best outfield.
Rob's Final Prediction: Red Sox in 5
By Rob Schardt
After two very exciting series, we are now left with two American League teams. These two teams, I personally thought we would end up with to begin with, but now that it is here, I am pumped. The Red Sox were the best team this year and the Astros were not far behind them. Now, with these teams meeting in a spot to play for the World Series, I expect that this series is going to be something special. As a neutral fan for this series, I would LOVE for this it to go 7 games. The Red Sox have the best offense in the league and the Astros have the best pitching staff, so which will be the first to cave in?
The Red Sox ended the Yankees season in the last series and the team showed off their hitters. I mean did you see some of those games? The Sox scored 16 runs in a PLAYOFF game! When you have MVP candidates Mookie Betts and J.D Martinez in your lineup that is just tough to beat. For Boston to win this series, I believe their offense needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing. I think overall, their pitching is the biggest question mark. Their starting rotation is good, with Sale, Eovaldi and Porcello, but their bullpen makes me wonder. Craig Kimbrel did not have a good series against the Yankees and if he can’t close out games against the Astros, the Red Sox will be sitting on their couches in about a week. If the rest of their bullpen comes to play, I think this gives the Sox a great chance to win, but until that happens I will have doubt.
The Astros, I believe are the team everyone has going to the World Series. Look at their team from top to bottom, they are STACKED in every way possible. Having a red hot Alex Bregman and George Springer in your lineup can only give this dangerous lineup even more fire power. Oh, don’t forget they also have Carlos Correa and 2017 MVP Jose Altuve too. The Astros will score and loves to make teams force plays on them, but I think what sets the Astros apart is the depth of their rotation. With the sudden rebirth of Gerrit Cole, I believe he can be a strong factor in this series. Their rotation is deep and their bullpen will win them games and I believe in the post season, a bullpen is the key to any series.
My Prediction: Astros in 7
As much as I do not want to pick a winner, I do believe that Astros have the slight upper advantage here. This series will bounce back and forth and with former Astros bench manager, Alex Cora, now managing the Red Sox, I believe this could have a heavy impact. I know for a fact is that this series could be historic, but the Astros are the reigning champions for a reason, so until they are knocked off, I will take the Astros
By: Ross Sutton
We are now down to just four teams in the playoffs, the Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, and Brewers. The Brewers and Dodgers will start their NLCS series Friday night in Milwaukee, as the Brewers will have home field advantage during the series. If someone told me at the beginning of the season that the Brewers were going to be in the NLCS, I would have highly doubted that, but that’s the beauty of sports, and here we are.
Despite having by far the worst starting pitching out of all the teams that are still fighting for the World Series, the Brewers are the hottest team right now, as they have won 11 straight games when counting the final few games of the regular season. The Brewers stacked bullpen and high-powered offense has carried them since the All-Star break and they will look to keep the momentum going against the defending NL champs. The Brewers will likely use the “bullpening” strategy that got them through the NLDS a few times against the Dodgers, as they simply do not have a strong starting rotation. The Brewers did sweep the Rockies though, so everyone’s arm will be well-rested going into this series. In my opinion, the biggest key for the Brewers to win this series is their offense. I think the Brewers have established that they will only give up so many runs in any single game due to their incredible bullpen, so if their offense stays hot, I like their chances to get to the World Series.
The Dodgers are an interesting team in the sense that they have seemingly cruised to the NLCS this season. Many people wrote them off in the beginning of the season due to overall poor play, but here they are, fighting for a chance to get back to the World Series. In addition, I honestly think the Dodgers might be even better this year than they were last year. I think Walker Buehler is a stud, and better than Yu Darvish, giving the Dodgers a great one-two punch with Kershaw and Buehler. They also have a very steady bullpen to compliment their starting rotation. Oh and they also acquired Manny Machado since last year’s World Series, making their offense scarier than ever. Now in order to be completely transparent, I must warn everyone that I haven’t correctly predicted a winner of a playoff series yet (Yankees in 4 and Rockies in 4) but what fun would this be without making a pick so here goes nothing.
Final Prediction: Dodgers in 6
It honestly comes down to one factor for me and it’s that the Brewers don’t have any starting pitching compared to the Dodgers and I think that will be hard for them to overcome.
My Recent Blogs:
Why do the Red Sox Let David Price Pitch Against the Yankees?
Yankees v. Red Sox Series Preview
Rockies v. Brewers NLDS Preview
By: Ross Sutton
The Yankees and Red Sox played the second game of their ALDS series last night, and for some reason, Alex Cora thought it was a good idea to start David Price, against the Yankees, in the postseason. As I said in my series preview blog, Price has horrific career numbers in the postseason and against the Yankees, but I guess the Red Sox felt pressured to start him considering they paid him $217M a few offseasons ago.
This game started with a bang, as Aaron Judge took Price deep in the top of the first inning. Then in the second inning, Gary Sanchez launched a homer off of Price as well. Later in the second inning, Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single off of the green monster and then Cora pulled Price after pitching just one and two thirds of an inning. The Yankees went on to win the game 6-2, evening the ALDS at one game a piece. Now as the series shifts to New York for games three and four, the Yankees have the chance to end the series at home in four games. This might seem like I’m getting too ahead of myself, but the Yankees have looked better than the Sox so far in the first two games of the series, and the Yankees are undefeated at home in the postseason since the start of last year, so I think there is still a good chance this series ends in four games. One thing is for sure though, the Red Sox cannot afford to let Price pitch again in this series as he has proven himself to be a liability (putting it nicely) against the Yankees and in the postseason.
My Recent Blogs:
Yankees v. Red Sox Series Preview
Rockies v. Brewers NLDS Series Preview
Recap of Tiebreaker Games
By: Ross Sutton
It feels like this whole season has been building up to an epic Yankees/Red Sox playoff series, and here it is. These two rivals will start their best-of-five series tonight in Boston, as Chris Sale (2.11 ERA) and J.A. Happ (3. 65 ERA) take the mound for their respective teams. The season series between these two teams was pretty evenly split, as Boston won 10 of the 19 regular matchups. Not to make excuses for the Yankees, but during the four-game series when they were swept by Boston, Aaron Judge was on the DL with a fractured wrist. Both teams are healthy now though, so let’s take a closer look into this matchup.
The two biggest advantages for the Red Sox in this series will be the fact that they have home-field advantage, and Chris Sale, who had an extremely low 2.11 ERA this season. The biggest thing for the Red Sox in years past has been that their top players have not performed well in the postseason, as they have lost in the ALDS each of the last two years. The Red Sox did face the Indians and Astros though, who both went to (and the Astros won) the World Series the years that Boston played them in the playoffs. The Red Sox two top starting pitchers, Chris Sale and David Price, have postseason ERAs of 8.38 and 5.08, respectively. To be fair though, Chris Sale has only pitched 9.2 innings in the postseason. David Price on the other hand, has pitched 73.1 innings in the postseason, so he has established that does not pitch well in the playoffs. Not only does Price not pitch well in the playoffs, but he pitches even worse against the Yankees. Since he has been on the Red Sox, Price has an ERA of 7.71 against the Yankees. If David Price starts two games against the Yankees in this series, Boston might be handing the Yankees the series. If Boston is going to get over the hump and win in the ALDS, they need their two top pitchers to perform better than they have in postseasons past.
The Yankees have all the momentum coming into this series, as they took two of three from the Red Sox in the last series of the regular season, and won the AL Wild Card game fairly easily against the A’s. Not only this, but the Yankees didn’t use starting pitchers J.A. Happ or Masahiro Tanaka in the Wild Card game, meaning each of them will be able to start two games in this series. Tanaka was unhittable in last year’s postseason, so he does not seem to be fazed by the bright lights. I also feel very confident in Happ in this series, as he has been great against the Red Sox this year, as he has a 1.99 ERA in four starts against the league’s top offense this season. I think in this specific matchup, the Yankees have the better group of starting pitchers compared to the Red Sox. The Yankees’ bullpen is also clearly superior to the Red Sox, so Boston will need their league-best offense to show up in a big way if they are going to take down the Yankees in the ALDS.
Final Prediction: Yankees in 4
By Rob Schardt
Two teams, with two different expectations heading into the season. The Dodgers, coming off a World Series loss, seemed poised to get back to the same position as they were a year ago. A team stashed with talent all over the field and money that flows like an endless river. Then you have the Braves, who finished third in the NL East last season, with a lot of question marks around them. All baseball fans knew they had young talent, but would it live up to the hype?
It took the Dodgers until game 163 to capture their 6th straight division title, but now they look to be locked in and ready to go. It is no surprise this team is stacked with pitching, especially when they have the best pitcher in baseball, in Clayton Kershaw. Walker Buehler burst onto the scene this season and after his Wild Card game performance, best of luck to whoever faces him. The Dodgers lineup is also one that should not be messed with. From top to bottom they have players who put the ball in play and force pitchers to work. Yasiel Puig has been hot as of late and should not be taken lightly. Of course when Manny Machado is in your lineup it is always important to pitch carefully to him. Bringing in players like Machado and Brian Dozier will make any team better, especially when supply power and solid defense. For the Dodgers to win this series, they need to put runs across and have their pitching take over the game, especially their bullpen.
It took the 2018 season to realize the Braves are a lethal team, stacked with young talent. Players like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, are some of the top talent in the league and Acuna especially looks to be the next big star in baseball. Veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis center this lineup and give this already dangerous lineup even more fire power. The one player the Braves will most likely miss, is shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson partially tore a ligament in his left hand in an at-bat vs Noah Syndergaard on September 24th. If he doesn’t play, the team will certainly miss his bat, but more important his defense. The Braves pitching has been a bit of a surprise this year, especially with the break out season Mike Foltynewicz had. Their starters will eat up innings and their bullpen has some strong arms, but may be a major question mark going forward.
I believe this series will be very exciting, especially with the amount of talent and young stars in this series. It will be must see baseball when every game is on TV and I expect it to be a back and forth series. In the end I do expect the Dodgers to win this series due to the amount of great players they have, especially pitching. Either way, its post season baseball, so let’s sit back and enjoy the show.
By: Ross Sutton
After a thrilling couple of days of National League tiebreakers and the Wild Card game, the NLDS matchups are set; the Rockies will play the Brewers, and the Braves will play the Dodgers. The Rockies clinched a spot in the NLDS by beating the Cubs in 13 innings, in the incredible NL Wild Card game, and the Brewers got their spot by beating the Cubs in Monday’s NL Central tiebreaker game. We know these two teams know how to beat the Cubs, but how do they matchup against each other?
The Brewers have one of the best offenses in all of baseball, largely impart to Christian Yelich putting up Barry Bonds-like numbers in the second half of the regular season. In regards to their pitching though, the Brewers have said that they will go with the “bullpening” strategy for game 1 of the NLDS. This means that they plan on using a pitcher from their bullpen to be the starter (or opener, as it’s called when “bullpening”) for an inning or two, and then use a lot of their bullpen for the remainder of the game. It is not shocking that the Brewers are utilizing this strategy for game 1, as they have one of the best bullpens in the MLB and do not have an ace starting pitcher like most playoff teams do.
Much like the Brewers, the Rockies are a team built around their offense and bullpen. The Rockies have always had a top offense in the league, but they spent a ton of money this offseason to sign relievers Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, and Wade Davis. The two most well-known players in the Rockies offense are Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, who are two of the league’s best players. In my opinion, the biggest advantage the Rockies will have over the Brewers is their starting pitching. Kyle Freeland was one of the best starters in the league this year and did something that is rarely seen, a Rockies’ pitcher finishing the regular season with an ERA under 3.00. Since Freeland pitched in the WIld Card game against the Cubs though, the Rockies will have Antonio Senzatela (4.38 ERA) start game 1 of the series.
This should be a hard fought battle between two really good teams, but I have to give the Rockies a slight edge in this series, as they have the better group of starting pitchers. The Brewers’ offense is red-hot though, so the Rockies will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Final Prediction: Rockies in 5