We get a matchup of two of the more historic franchises in all of baseball this season for the Fall Classic, and even though the Dodgers haven’t been as good this season as they were last season and the Red Sox have just slugged their way through the regular season and then through the ALDS and ALCS, this is still shaping up to be a pretty good matchup with the way the Dodgers looked in finishing off the Brewers in the NLCS. The Dodgers will be seeking their first World Series title since 1988 after coming up just short last season, losing to the Astros in seven games. The Red Sox will be seeing their 9th World Series title in franchise history, and their 4th since the start of the century.
These starting pitching staffs really remind me of each other in the fact that they are headlined by established aces in Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw, but after that they aren’t too deep. Now I would say the Dodgers are deeper because they’ve gotten some good work out of Hyun-Jin Ryu this postseason and even more so, I’ve been impressed with rookie Walker Buehler and how he’s handled the big stage of the playoffs.
On the flip side, David Price was really sharp in game five of the ALCS as the Red Sox closed out the Astros, and it was uncharacteristic of what Price had been in his playoff career before that start. If the Red Sox are going to get anything like that out of Price and Rick Porcello, they could make this a quick series, but I’m not willing to bet on those two pitching great on this stage.
The Dodgers bullpen isn’t what it was last season when they nearly won it all, but it is still better than the Red Sox. They’ve been able to use Alex Wood out of the bullpen and that has been extremely helpful because he’s a guy that has been able to give them some length when they don’t get a long start out of their starting pitcher, and they also still have a pair of guys in the back end that have been mainstays for them in Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen, although Jansen hasn’t been quite as good this season as normal, which is understandable because he’s been dealing with a heart condition. If the Dodgers are going to win this series they will really need to have a decided edge in the bullpen battle.
The strength of this Boston team is certainly not the bullpen. Even their best pitcher on the back end, Craig Kimbrel, has been really shaky throughout these playoffs, even though he’s found a way to close out games with it not being pretty. Over the course of the postseason Boston’s best pitcher out of the bullpen has actually been Matt Barnes. Boston has shown they don’t need great bullpen pitching with this years team to win games, but something tells me they will need to find a way to be better than they have been in the playoffs so far.
This Dodgers lineup isn’t the most explosive, but what they are is pretty versatile. They have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions and bat in different parts of the lineup, which gives them the ability to really mix and match and play a number of different styles of baseball. But they also do rely a lot on home runs and in my opinion they relied on them too much in the NLCS and if they go with that approach in this series, they’ll have a tough time generating nearly enough offense to keep up with the Red Sox juggernaut lineup. Hitting with runners in scoring position will be even more important than normal for the Dodgers in this series.
Not much time needs to be spent on the Red Sox lineup, besides stating the fact that they are a juggernaut. This is a lineup that has no easy outs in it and they have multiple guys that have a case for the AL MVP award in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. You really just can’t take a break against them and they are a lineup that can explode on you and put a game out of hand so fast. It’ll be so important for the Dodgers to get the leadoff batters of innings out, or else the Red Sox will put up runs in a hurry.
On paper this looks like it should be an easy Red Sox win, but the Dodgers were here last year and they’re a very experienced team and I don’t think they will be phased by the situation and they’ll make things difficult on the Red Sox. It’ll be critical for the Dodgers to be able to steal one of the first two games in Boston to have any chance of winning this series, and I think they can do that and can push the Red Sox, but ultimately that Red Sox lineup will be too much over the course of a series.
Pick: Red Sox in six
MVP: Mookie Betts
Series schedule – all games on FOX
Game one – in Boston on Tuesday
Game two – in Boston on Wednesday
Game three – in Los Angeles on Friday
Game four – in Los Angeles on Saturday
Game five* – in Los Angeles on Sunday
Game six* – in Boston next Tuesday
Game seven* – in Boston next Wednesday
* if necessary