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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

World Series Breakdown: A High Scoring Affair

This postseason has been one for the ages. From the Rockies-Cubs classic in the Wild Card to two thrilling elimination games in the championship series, the 2018 playoffs will end with what is sure to be a high-scoring series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox. First, let’s dive into the pitching for each team, keeping in mind that the line between starters and relievers are blurring by the game, with pitching changes happening more often than ever before.

Pitching

The Sox will be rolling Sale out for the series opener. He’s been the best lefty in the AL this season, and his outings in the postseason leave no room for doubt that he’ll be completely on top of his game. Price is next up for the Sox, and as long as he can continue the momentum he started in the series-clinching game of the ALCS with six scoreless innings, he is going to be a problem for the Dodgers. But he hasn’t established himself as a playoff presence yet, as we all know how poor he’s been in postseasons past. Eovaldi will likely pitch the third game. Although he was up and down during the regular season, it seems he has a better grasp of what it takes to perform in the postseason. He only allowed two hits and two walks in six strong innings of work in game three. The Sox rotation takes a dive after the first three. Rick Porcello was bad in his last start, giving up four runs in four innings in game four, and Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t the caliber of player you want pitching significant innings in the World Series, as he was barely used in the ALCS.

The Dodgers are in a somewhat similar situation, with a lefty ace and a solid second man, but their talent drops off after Buehler. Clayton Kershaw will be starting game one. He’s been back to his dominant self after one of his worst regular seasons in several years and his most recent outing in game five was classic Kershaw: seven innings and nine strikeouts and only one run allowed. Walker Buehler just became the tenth rookie to start a game seven. He had 4.2 innings, six hits, seven Ks, and only one ER in his eliminating appearance. Hyun-Jin Ryu was great in the first half of the season but after his mid-season injury and his performance in game six of the NLCS, with four runs allowed in the first inning. Rich Hill is next for the Dodgers, but he’ll be on a short leash, especially if they’re down in the series. Ryan Madson and Alex Wood have each proven themselves to be pitchers that can hold their own for extensive relief innings, and they’ll be relied on throughout the series.

Entering the postseason, many would argue that the Red Sox bullpen wouldn’t be enough to take them all the way, but relievers like Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier have proven themselves reliable in the past two series. Craig Kimbrel has looked shaky at points but ended the ALCS in a strong way. With the way this season has gone, don’t be surprised to see more early exits, especially as the series goes on and teams become more desperate for short, strong work.

The same is true for the Dodgers. The move of Wood to the bullpen late in the season has proven to be a good decision, and guys like Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Pedro Baez will continue the good work they’ve put in thus far. Kenta Maeda hasn’t been as solid as he has been in the past, so if he can return to form, the Dodgers will be in a great spot.

It doesn’t seem like there will be too many surprises from either pitching staff, and it will be on both the pitchers and managers to make sure that they stay on top of their game. It’s going to be crucial because both teams sport incredibly high-powered offenses.

Batting

The Dodgers and Red Sox both have great lineups. Both contain a stupid amount of star power and explosive potential. So which of these elite offenses holds the advantage? The Dodgers lead the national league in runs scored and home runs hit during this years regular season. However even with their explosive offense, from top to bottom I don’t think theirs is as good as Boston’s.

The Red Sox have the top two candidates for AL MVP with Mookie Betts and JD Martinez; these two have helped the Red Sox offense to lead baseball in basically every major hitting statistic. On top of that, they have depth throughout their lineup and help from their bench. This helped Boston torch Houston’s great pitching staff, as they put up 29 runs in just five games. A key player to watch for the Red Sox in the World Series is CF Jackie Bradley Jr. We all know what JBJ brings to center field but after hitting two home runs in the ALCS, it looks like he is getting hot at the right time. If JBJ can stay hot and keep supplying power to the bottom of the Sox order, the offense will be nearly impossible to stop.

While the Dodgers lineup might quite not be as good as Boston’s, it is nothing to frown at. Any lineup that has the likes of Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, and Cody Bellinger has potential to put up monster numbers. In order to keep up with the Red Sox, they’re going to need to score a lot of runs.

Postseason villain Manny Machado will play a huge role for the Dodgers offense as his elite bat, and the recent run of dirty play only seems to fire up their “Showtime” players like Yasiel Puig. After a down year after winning Rookie of the Year in 2017, Cody Bellinger finally seems to be turning his season around. Bellinger won NLCS MVP after hitting a clutch two-run home run in game 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Bellinger, at only 23 years old became the youngest position player to win an LCS MVP. The Dodgers are counting that Bellinger’s clutch play can continue as they head into their second straight World Series.

With all of the balls in play that these two offenses will create, defense will be crucial. Each team sports great play in the field, but the dynamic outfield trio of Benintendi, JBJ, and Betts will prove invaluable with their ability to get to fly balls and make plays. The Dodgers have a stronger tandem at 3B/SS, as Turner and Machado are consistently great, but the projected decision to put Freese at first could create problems for the Dodgers, as he’s been a third baseman his whole career. It’s clear that the Sox are superior in every position other than 3B/SS, and their defensive prowess will shift the series.

Prediction: Sox in 6

– Sean and Michael

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