Who said money can’t buy you championships? As two teams with top three payrolls in Major League Baseball get ready to square up for a world title, here’s what you need to know…
This year’s World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers will be the second time these two franchises have met with a championship on the line. The last time they played, the Red Sox defeated the then Brooklyn Robins in five games.
The 2,982 miles between Fenway Pahk (yes, that was intentional) and Dodger Stadium will account for the most traveling teams have ever had in the Fall Classic. The distance between those two stadiums narrowly edges out that of Candlestick Park and the Old Yankee Stadium in the 1962 World Series.
Neither of these teams are strangers to October baseball. The Red Sox’s eight World Series wins have them tied with the Giants for fourth most in MLB history. The Dodgers have won it all six times, good for sixth on that list.
So, with the history of this series covered, how do these two teams match up?
The 108-win Sox made easy work of the defending champion Houston Astros in the ALCS, while the Dodgers needed all seven games to beat the Milwaukee Brewers and earn the right to play in Boston tonight.
That Game 7 in Milwaukee brought out the best in rookie righty, Walker Buehler, as well as Yasiel Puig, who’s three-run homer off Jeremy Jeffress took all the air out of Miller Park’s crowd Saturday night.
Both teams’ rosters are essentially the same going into the World Series. The Red Sox replaced right-handed reliever Brandon Workman with lefty Drew Pomeranz and the Dodgers swapped lefties in their bullpen, replacing Caleb Ferguson with Scott Alexander.
Adding Pomeranz isn’t shocking as the Dodgers rely on three powerful lefties in their lineup and shockingly, Puig, one of their hottest right-handed bats, has hit right-handed pitching much better than lefties this year. In 266 at-bats he hit .297 with 19 home runs off righties as opposed to hitting just .209 with four home runs in his 139 at-bats against lefties. The nearly .300-point differential in his OPS is one of the most drastic splits in the game.
Leaving Ferguson off in favor of Alexander was slightly surprising as the rookie retired nine of the 10 batters he’s faced this postseason, but ultimately isn’t a move that should have too much impact on the outcome of the series.
While “bullpenning” stole the show in much of the NLCS, this series should play out more traditionally, with an emphasis on starting pitching beginning tonight as Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw kick things off.
Sale is coming off an odd ailment, an infection caused by a belly-button ring that sidelined him after game one against Houston. Kershaw is coming off one of the most dominant postseason starts of his career, and a shutdown relief appearance Saturday night. These two should combine for an old-school, low-scoring game one, and I’d be disappointed if either failed to last seven innings.
Expect the Sox 1-2 punch in their rotation of Sale and David Price to neutralize the left-handed bats of the Dodgers (and Puig) early on in this series, as the Dodgers have announced they have no lefties in their game one lineup. Keeping sluggers Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger on the bench is huge for the Red Sox.
One key name for Boston who has crushed pitching all year is designated hitter, J.D. Martinez. So far, Martinez has been worth every penny of the five-year $110 million deal the Sox signed him too after tearing up the National League in just 62 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
During those 62 games, Martinez faced Kershaw eight times, accumulating three hits and one long ball. If he can jump on Kershaw early tonight, like he did against J.A. Happ of the Yankees in the first inning of game one of the ALDS, Boston can steal a pivotal series opener against one of the game’s best pitchers.
I think that’s just what they’ll do tonight, and I’m taking the Sox in six to win the World Series. I think the series MVP will come down to either Martinez with his powerful bat or Price, who has finally conquered the mental aspect to pitching in October and could be able to start a title-clinching game six next week.