Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com (Oct. 21, 2018 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
It’s finally here! After 108 regular season wins and eight additional playoff wins, the Boston Red Sox only need to win four more games in order to become World Series champions. Standing in their way is the upstart Los Angeles Dodgers, making their second consecutive appearance to the World Series. Last year, the Dodgers lost in seven games and will look to avoid a similar fate. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are making their first appearance to the World Series since 2013 and are looking to win their fourth title since 2004. It all starts tonight with the World Series Game One Preview.
Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Dodgers – World Series Game One Preview
While the Red Sox were familiar with the Yankees and Astros before meeting them in the playoffs, they don’t have much familiarity with the Dodgers. The last time the Red Sox and Dodgers faced off was back in 2016 when David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez were both key members to their respective teams.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lineup was arguably the best in the regular season this year, finishing the season with a league-leading 111 wRC+. Additionally, the team finished fifth in runs, second in home runs, and third in slugging percentage. While they aren’t discussed as an elite offense, their season-long stats show they were just as good as the Red Sox and the other elite offenses in baseball.
The best bat in the Dodgers lineup probably belongs to 28-year old Max Muncy. After two subpar years with the Athletics and an entire 2017 spent in AAA, Muncy has come out of nowhere to be one of the most explosive hitters in baseball. The first baseman finished his season with a .263/.391/.582 slash line to go along with a 162 wRC+ and 35 home runs.
Of course, Muncy is far from the only good bat in the lineup. The Dodgers also have players like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and old foe Manny Machado capable of changing the game with a swing of the bat. There really isn’t a weak part of the Dodgers lineup, so the pitching will need to be on point throughout the entire series.
Your Starting Ace: Chris Sale
Taking the mound for the Red Sox is Chris Sale. Sale is arguably the best pitcher in the American League coming off yet another magnificent season. However, there is a reason for concern with Sale. The hard-throwing lefty missed his second start in the ALCS after suffering a stomach illness which may or may not have been caused by a belly button ring. It’s weird.
However, Sale would have started Game Six were it not for David Price’s magnificent Game Five performance. If he was ok to go then, he should be ok to go now on considerably more rest. Sale reportedly lost a few pounds from the infection, so it will be worth monitoring whether or not Sale still has all his stuff. Keep your eye glued to the radar gun whenever Sale’s on the mound.
Know Your Enemy: Clayton Kershaw
Matching Sale on the mound is Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher of his generation. Health has been a bit of an issue in recent years, but when he’s healthy, Kershaw is still one of the best in the game. In 2018, Kershaw earned a 2.73 ERA and a 3.19 FIP while striking out 8.65 batters per nine innings in 161.1 innings of work.
Thus far, Kershaw has carried his regular season success into the postseason. While he struggled in the ALCS series opener, Kershaw was dominant in his two other starts. In those good games, Kershaw tossed a combined 15 innings of one-run ball, striking out 14 and walking just two. Additionally, Kershaw pitched the final inning of Game Seven, striking out two without allowing a hit.
Player to Watch: J.D. Martinez
Runs will be hard to come by, so the Red Sox will need their star slugger to have a big game. While most of the Red Sox don’t have much experience with Kershaw, Martinez has actually faced off against him nine times in his major league career.
In those nine plate appearances, Martinez has three hits, including a double and a home run. This obviously isn’t the largest sample size in the world, but it shows that Martinez is capable of putting up hard contact against Kershaw. Only three other Red Sox have ever faced Kershaw, and only Eduardo Nunez has faced him more than Martinez.
After being relatively quiet for the majority of the ALCS, Martinez scored the first run of Game Five with a solo shot to left field. Hopefully, Martinez can carry this momentum over from the ALCS to the World Series.
This one could go either way. At their best, you could argue that these two are the best pitchers in the league. (I wouldn’t make that argument, but there is a case for it). These are also two of the best offenses in the league, so this game is the ultimate battle of elite hitting versus elite pitching.
In this case, traditional logic is true, as elite pitching tends to dominate elite hitting. Look for a low-scoring game, but ultimately one in which the Red Sox should prevail. As long as Chris Sale is healthy, this team is just too hot to stop. They may make it dramatic, but it will still count as a win.
Final prediction: Red Sox 3, Dodgers 2