The Los Angeles Dodgers outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS to advance to the World Series. Now they’ll square off with the Boston Red Sox, the team that won the most games in the regular season (108). Even though the Dodgers won 16 less, they have an opening as the Red Sox might have some issues with their starting rotation. Let’s take a closer look at the World Series matchup.
The Red Sox rotation should be fully healthy by the time we get to Game 1 of the World Series. Chris Sale had some issues, but he appears to be over them and will start Game 1 of the World Series. David Price will go in Game 2 and he’s going to be confident after (finally) earning his first playoff win. The issue is that both of these supposed aces haven’t pitched great in the playoffs. Sale has been good with a 3.48 ERA, but his WHIP of 1.31 in the two starts is just OK. We’re talking about a guy who had a 0.86 WHIP in the regular season. As for Price, he did pitch six scoreless innings in his last playoff start, while striking out nine and allowing just three hits, but prior to that, he had given up seven earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. Which Price are we going to see? The good news is the Dodgers OPS was 63 points lower against lefties than righties this season, so that should help the Red Sox.
On the other end, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, but who else? Walker Buehler has a 5.40 ERA, Hyun-Jin Ryu has a 4.40 ERA and Rich Hill has a 2.61 ERA. Kershaw is the stud who could possibly lead the way in Games 1, 4 and 7, but he’ll have to pitch great and someone else will have to step up. And remember that Kershaw has had some rough playoff outings. He’s got 11 starts where he’s allowed two earned runs or less and 11 where he’s allowed three or more.
On the surface, one might think the Red Sox have a weakness here. Their relievers entered the postseason with a 3.72 ERA, which ranked seventh out of the 10 postseason teams. However, this unit was very strong in the ALCS. Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes have been outstanding. They have combined for 11 strikeouts and just five hits between the two of them in 13.1 innings of work. This unit is pitching really well.
As for the Dodgers, they have had good production from their bullpen as well. Kenley Jansen has three saves and a 0.60 WHIP in the playoffs, Pedro Baez has pitched 6.2 scoreless innings while also posting a 0.60 WHIP and Ryan Madson has allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings of work.
It would be hard to argue that the Dodgers have an edge here. While they weren’t bad this year — they were fifth in runs scored, second in home runs and sixth in RBI’s — the Red Sox were just better. Boston led the league in RBIs, runs, average, OBP, slugging and OPS. They were the only team in the league to top the 1,500-mark for hits.
Boston has shown no signs of slowing down in the playoffs either. They have 56 runs so far, which is 14 more than any other team. Their batting lineup is going to give their pitching staff a bigger margin for error; something the Dodgers have struggled with. So far this postseason, the Dodgers .667 OPS is the worst among the four teams that made it to the Championship Series round.
Add in the fact that the Dodgers are weaker when facing lefties and its clear the Red Sox have the edge.
The Red Sox have been the best team in baseball this season and they haven’t slowed down at all in the playoffs. They’ve even overcome an injury to Sale and bad performances from Price. Unless Kershaw pitches out of his mind and the Dodgers bats somehow come to life and outshine the Red Sox, we should see Boston win their fourth World Series in the last 14 seasons.
Pick: Red Sox -130
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