The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in a position they haven’t been in since 1988, a chance at winning the World Series. In a franchise that has so much history surrounding itself, they have one of the longest championship droughts in all of baseball. They finished the regular season with the best record in MLB (104-58), swept their National League Division Series matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then defeated the defending champion Chicago Cubs in five games in the National League Championship Series.
Similarly, the Houston Astros took the American League by storm at the start of the season. Everyone knew the Astros had a multitude of talent on their roster, but they kept waiting for the team to take that next step. Houston finished the year with the second-best record in the American League (101-61), took care of the Boston Red Sox in four games during the ALDS, and came back from being down 3-2 against the surprising New York Yankees to secure their first trip to the World Series since 2005, when they were still in the National League.
This World Series has the potential to be one of the best in history due to the star power that both clubs have.
1 Starting Rotation
This series features two of the best left-handers in all of baseball. Clayton Kershaw might be the best lefty this generation has ever seen while Dallas Keuchel continues to be successful unorthodoxly in today's game.
Whatever demons that have haunted Clayton Kershaw in previous playoff series appear to have vanished as the 29-year-old has come up huge for the Dodgers this postseason. Kershaw is 2-0 with 3.63 ERA in 17.1 innings this year. To put Kershaw's struggles in prior postseasons into perspective, he lowered his postseason ERA to 4.40, that is not the player who was a regular season career ERA of 2.36.
Outside of Game 5 of the ALCS, Dallas Keuchel has been nothing but dominant for the Astros this postseason. He has a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings and has absolutely dominated his opponents. In those 17.1 innings, Keuchel has allowed just five runs, four of which came in Game 5 of the ALCS, and he has just absolutely dominated the opposition.
After Kershaw, the Dodgers have legitimate arms that can go out and keep them in any game. The acquisition of Yu Darvish made their rotation one of the deepest in the game. Following Darvish, Los Angeles has the likes of Alex Wood and Rich Hill who are difficult to generate much off, plus Kenley Jansen coming out of the bullpen.
For the Astros, the acquisition of Justin Verlander is what allowed them to make the World Series. The ALCS MVP held the Yankees to just one run in 16 innings across Games 2 and 7 of the series. Outside of Verlander and Keuchel, there are so many questions that come with the Astros' rotation. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. aren't guaranteed to be dominant every night, though they have the potential to be.
2 Starting Lineup
The one thing that both the Dodgers and Astros have in common is that their lineups can put up runs and are full of young stars.
The Astros' lineup has the likes of George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman. Despite struggling on the road in the ALCS, this is by far the most complete lineup in all of baseball. What makes this Astros lineup complete is that they put the ball in play. Houston isn't a home run happy team, which worked to their advantage in the ALCS. Not only can Houston put the ball in play, but they are excellent baserunners and extremely aggressive.
Cody Bellinger took the National League by storm this season, finishing the regular season with 39 home runs while posting a respectable .267 batting average. That success has translated into the postseason where Bellinger has a .278 average with two home runs and four RBIs.
Like Houston, the Dodgers lineup is balanced and might the most in all of baseball. Los Angeles is second in the league this postseason with 48 runs scored, but Houston is right behind them with 44. Both teams can score with the best of them which is why this series will be so intriguing.
If the Astros were to have one weakness, that would be their bullpen.
Houston's bullpen's struggles were evident in the ALCS when the Yankees rallied down 4-0 in Game 4 after not generating anything against Lance McCullers Jr. With Houston's bullpen woes, manager A. J. Hinch went a different route in game seven of the ALCS. Hinch got five innings from starter Charlie Morton and then turned to McCullers Jr. to pitch the final four innings. This turned out to be effective as McCullers Jr. just absolutely toyed with the Yankees, throwing curve ball after curve ball. If the Astros' bullpen implodes in the World Series, look for Hinch to go that route again.
The Dodgers, contrastingly, have one of the best bullpens in the game. Kenley Jansen has emerged as one of baseball's best closers, which gives manager Dave Roberts a luxury at the end of games. It's no secret why the Dodgers have gone 7-1 in the postseason. They just don't blow leads and are one of two teams that have yet blow a save.
4 Prediction: Dodgers in six
This year's World Series will be a great one that will see the Los Angeles Dodgers coming out on top.
One thing to look at from the ALCS with the Astros is that out of the seven games played, they lost all three games on the road. This is strange because Houston was 53-28 away from Minute Maid Park compared to 48-33 at home this year, but everything changes in the playoffs. The Dodgers can win anywhere and with that won't have a problem with the hostile environment that Minute Maid has to offer.
The long layoff won't affect the Dodgers, who will see their first championship in almost 30 years.
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