Here we are. The World Series starts tonight in Boston at the cathedral of Boston, Fenway Park. What an awesome Fall Classic, two historic franchises, two massive cities, two great ballparks in Fenway Park in Boston and Dodgers Stadium in Chavez Ravine. Oh yeah and the classic East Coast vs. West Coast showdown that the entire country will tune in for. This is going to be a special World Series and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Red Sox fan.
For the Dodgers, they were in the World Series last year and fell just short against the Houston Astros and bring a better roster to the table than they had last season with the addition of superstar and one of the most dislikeable guys in baseball in Manny Machado. You have the beef last year with the Red Sox throwing at Machado and the antics he pulled in the NLCS against the Brewers to fuel that fire and that storyline. They also have a better pitching staff this year with a more experienced Clayton Kershaw who seems to get better and better with every postseason start under his belt and a young Walker Buehler who started Game 7 for the Dodgers. Ryan Madson is a huge weapon for Los Angeles out of their pen along with Pedro Baez who has been dominant and of course their All Star closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers have a deep pitching staff equal to the Astros with not quite the same level of starting pitching, but a better all-around bullpen.
As for their lineup, it is top-to-bottom very good with the ability to flip over depending on the matchups. For tonight they will likely load-up with right-handed hitters like former All Star Brian Dozier at second and former World Series MVP David Freese at first to go with utility man Chris Taylor playing left field. Matt Kemp is confirmed as the designated hitter for Game 1 by Dave Roberts. Then you have constants in the order the three studs in Machado, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger along with the charismatic Yasiel Puig who hit the three-run homer in Game 7 in Milwaukee that put the game out of reach. The lineup tonight will likely be the same if not very similar in Game 2 against another left-hander in David Price before flipping over to the left-handed hitters in Max Muncy and Joc Pederson against the Boston right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello.
The Dodgers lineup is deep and the Red Sox pitchers need to execute much like they have in the first two series against the equally if not more explosive lineups of the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. Boston has a lineup capable from flipping depending on the matchups too, like we’ve seen in the first few rounds with the likes of Moreland, Pearce, Kinsler, Nunez and Devers. With Jackie Bradley Jr. locked in, manager Alex Cora may even consider using Mookie Betts at second base in Los Angeles with J.D. Martinez needing to play the field.
As for the Boston pitching staff, I have full confidence in Porcello & Eovaldi with how they have fared in big spots this postseason. Each guy can come out of the pen on days they aren’t starting or immediately coming off a start and lock down those crucial outs. David Price was huge in Houston earning his first postseason win and now has all the confidence and momentum on his side. Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have all been lock down out of the bullpen this October combing for 0.81 ERA and a .122 opponent’s batting average over 22 1/3 innings. Even Craig Kimbrel who was a ticking time-bomb appears to have corrected his issues having corrected tipping his pitches. There’s one major cause for concern out of the Red Sox camp, the status of Chris Sale.
Sale was hospitalized back in Boston during Game 2 due to a “belly button ring infection” they are now claiming and hasn’t pitched since. He gets the nod tonight, and we will see if it’s the same Sale we saw in Houston that didn’t look right or it’s the Sale we saw in the divisional round against New York starting and out of the pen. Even with Price and the other two starters locked in and executing their pitches, Sale’s health heading into this series is a major factor.
I get why the Red Sox added Drew Pomeranz to the roster with all the left-handed matchups they can play especially with inter-league action set for Los Angeles, but the least amount of big spots he’s in, the better. In fact I’d prefer if they leave him in no longer than one batter at a time this way he can’t muck things up too bad especially not having pitched since the end of September. No thanks with that guy.
Okay now the moment you’ve all waited for, my prediction. I think Sale keeps Boston in it and looks more like himself from the series with the Yankees. 5 to 6 innings of good baseball allowing a run or two to keep the team in it. Kershaw will be his usual good self, but the Red Sox have to get him on the ropes early and get that lead. Boston takes the game tonight and I like them to jump out to the 2-0 series lead with the pitching matchup advantage tomorrow night as well with Price vs Hyun-Jin Ryu. It will be cold and brutal baseball weather, especially for a team traveling to the East Coast from sunny Los Angeles. I like the Red Sox in this environment to thrive.
The Dodgers likely respond with young stud Walker Buehler in Game 3 in a must-win spot back at home before the crucial Game 4. It will likely be Porcello starting if he’s called upon out of the pen for an inning in either game in Boston against Massachusetts native Rich Hill. I like that matchup and Boston’s right-handed bats to Do Damage much like when they faced Dallas Keuchel. LA responds to stave-off elimination at home in Game 5 with Kershaw before Boston wins the series at home in Game 6. Sox in Six.
If only it were that easy. This is a great series of on-edge, four hours a night, baseball. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this matchup plays out. Red Sox vs. Dodgers and it all starts tonight at Fenway. Lets go.