We have finally arrived. After what seems like a season that just refused to end, and an ALCS that saw the Astros come back from the brink of elimination only to send the Yankees packing, it’s World Series time. We take a look at the combatants, and give you our absolutely correct, but probably sure to be wrong prediction for how it’ll all go down.
2017 World Series
Houston Astros (101-61, AL #2 seed) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58, NL #1 seed)
Game 1: Dallas Keuchel (HOU) vs Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
Game 2: Justin Verlander (HOU) vs Rich Hill (LAD)
Game 3: *Charlie Morton (HOU) vs Yu Darvish (LAD)
Game 4: *Lance McCullers (HOU) vs *Alex Wood (LAD)
Games 5-7: Starters TBD *if necessary
Note: Morton, McCullers and Wood have not been announced and could change.
Two of the best teams in baseball have arrived at the promised land. Houston and LA were season-long front runners, so while some teams who experienced a little less regular season success made a run, in the end this match up shouldn’t really come as a great surprise to anyone.
Houston arrives in the Fall Classic for just the second time in franchise history, and the first since moving to the American League in 2013. Lead by a well-rounded, potent offense, the Astros will also once again feature a great 1-2 starting rotation punch in Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander.
While Keuchel has been good this postseason, Verlander has been great, going 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA. 0.93 WHIP and just a .200 batting average against. In order for Houston to make this series everything it can be, both of these guys need to be lights out. Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers, who have both pitched very well in their own right this postseason, figure to get the start in games 3 and 4, and could be seen again later too if the series goes the distance.
On offense, the postseason has been a tale of home and away for the Astros. While they played very well on the road during the regular season, that hasn’t so much been the case this postseason. They did OK in Boston in the ALDS, but struggled mightily in New York and will have to turn that trend around in the World Series if they hope to finish the season in the win column. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, who both epitomized the Astros road struggles in the Bronx, will have to perform in LA and set the pace.
The Dodgers rotation is deep and talented, that much is obvious. Clayton Kershaw, who’s been known as a poor postseason performer, has been pretty decent so far in October but still not up to his normal lofty standards. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says that Kershaw will NOT be used on short rest in the playoffs, so Kershaw looks to be lined up for games 1 and 5 and that’s it. We still wouldn’t put it past Roberts to bring Kershaw back for game 7 though if necessary, especially not if it’s just in a relief role.
He shouldn’t need to do that though, as the Dodgers have a decided advantage over Houston in the bullpen department. that group is anchored by closer Kenley Jansen, and he’s the best in the biz. Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and likely Alex Wood will follow Kershaw in the rotation, and all are capable of shut down performances.
Turning to the Dodgers offense, the middle of the order trio of Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger ran through the Cubs pitching staff in the NLCS like a hot knife through butter. They’ll look to continue that lofty production, and they’ll be joined by shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the NLCS due to injury but will be back for the World Series. While both of these offenses are formidable, a healthy Seager could make the Dodgers line up just as potent and deep as that of the Astros, and that could be a problem for Houston.
It feels as though the Dodgers still haven’t been truly challenged in the postseason, and we expect that to change big time over the course of this series. For Houston to win, they need both Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander to be lights out and for the offense to perform away from home. While that’s not at all out of the realm of possibility, we see this Dodgers team as being just too deep and too talented to let this one slip away. This one goes the distance, but the Dodgers finally lift the trophy for the first time since 1988.
Los Angeles wins 4-3
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