World Series Preview
Beginning Tuesday night, two of the most storied franchises in all of Major League Baseball are set to take the game’s biggest stage. The Boston Red Sox will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. First pitch is set for 8:09 p.m. ET, and all games will be televised on FOX.
The Red Sox took down the New York Yankees three games to one in the ALDS and cruised to an American League pennant after eliminating the Houston Astros in a five-game ALCS set. Meanwhile, the Dodgers advanced past the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS and won their second consecutive National League pennant at the expense of the Milwaukee Brewers in a thrilling seven-game NLCS.
Both teams have seemingly been knocking on the door of a championship for several seasons. In a league full of parody where there have been 20 different playoff teams since the 2014 postseason, these two teams have been a mainstay in October baseball. The Red Sox have won three championships since 2004, while the Dodgers have clinched six straight NL West division titles but are still in search of their first title since 1988.
Three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw will start game one on the mound for the Dodgers, making his first career start at Boston’s historic Fenway Park. Fellow left-handers Hyun-jin Ryu and Rich Hill, along with right-hander Walker Buehler will follow in the Los Angeles rotation. Meanwhile, southpaw Chris Sale toes the rubber in the opener for the Red Sox, likely followed by David Price, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello.
Tempers have flared between Sale and Dodger shortstop Manny Machado in the past. The Red Sox ace intentionally hit Machado a few seasons ago. This was a response from a dangerous slide Machado performed against the Red Sox when he was still a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Given Machado’s antics in the NLCS, including another aggressive slide into second base, the emotions of individual superstars may certainly play a factor in the outcome of the series, especially if the league must step in for disciplinary action.
Both rotations are filled with talent. However, given the abundance of right-handed power hitters at the Red Sox disposal, they appear to hold an advantage. Boston has been getting to left-handed starters early and often this postseason. Left-handed starts have only lasted an average of three-and-a-third innings pitched against the Sox thus far. In addition, Boston is averaging over six runs a game as a team in October.
In particular, J.D. Martinez has continued his hot regular season form. The Red Sox designated hitter is batting .313 this postseason with a pair of home runs and nine runs batted in. It will be a struggle for Boston manager Alex Cora to keep Martinez in the lineup, with games in Dodger Stadium following National League regulations. Rumors have surfaced of fellow AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts moving to second base in order to make room for Martinez in right field.
Regardless, Cora said, “One thing for sure, J.D. will play. That’s clear.”
So, regardless of the means, expect Martinez to find his way into the lineup when the Sox travel to LA.
For a staff full of pitchers known for their inconsistency in big games like the Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts may find himself leaning on his bullpen rather heavily.
The good news is, the Dodgers bullpen has been lights out all postseason and may be LA’s biggest advantage heading into the series. They’ve dominated to the tune of a 0.14 earned run average.
Red Sox fans, however, may be holding their breath once the game reaches the ninth inning. Boston closer Craig Kimbrel has not blown a save yet this postseason but has walked six batters and allowed runs in four of his five outings. Kimbrel is dangerously close to crumbling, and his effectiveness, or lack thereof, is certainly something to watch for.
The Red Sox demonstrate depth both in their lineup and on the bench. In addition, their rotation is also peaking at the right time with the two left-handers, Price and Sale, looking to neutralize the Dodgers dangerous left-handed bats. While the bullpen has struggled, Boston should be able to show their superiority in a best-of-seven series, and thus, the self-proclaimed “city of champions” will claim yet another title.
Game 1: Red Sox 6, Dodgers 2
Game 2: Red Sox 3, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 6, Red Sox 5
Game 4: Red Sox 7, Dodgers 5
Game 5: Dodgers 5, Red Sox 4
Game 6: Red Sox 7, Dodgers 3
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.