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
Follow @Nosebleed_MLB for more!