Two storied franchises, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox, are set to face off in the 2018 World Series. With the first pitch set for Tuesday night, Oct. 23, The McGill Tribune previews the Fall Classic.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are one of the most well-rounded teams in baseball history. They set a franchise record with 108 wins during the regular season and have maintained their blistering pace into the playoffs. On their path to the World Series, they have beaten the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, both of whom also won at least 100 games this season. Outfielders J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, both American League MVP candidates, have paved the way to the postseason: In their incredible regular-season play, they hit 43 and 32 home runs, respectively. The Red Sox also have one of the best pitching rotations in the MLB, led by Cy Young Award candidate Chris Sale.
Boston has few weaknesses. The biggest hole in their lineup is behind the plate; the team’s catchers, primarily Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez, combined for -2.1 Wins Above Replacement this season, which is the worst in the league at the position. Furthermore, the Red Sox bullpen has struggled with closer Craig Kimbrel’s shaky outings in the postseason. If the Dodgers can get through Boston’s starting pitchers quickly, they will be in a position to do some real damage. That being said, the Red Sox rarely slip up; it will take a perfect effort to exploit their deficiencies.
Los Angeles Dodgers
After a tight seven-game series against the top-seeded Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second year in a row. The last team to win back-to-back pennants was the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals, who won it all in the second go-around.
With the powerhouse Red Sox in the opposing dugout, the Dodgers’ chances look slim this year. Still, they currently have the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, whom manager Dave Roberts has used as both a starter and reliever this postseason in unorthodox fashion. Kershaw will, obviously, play a significant role in the series, as will fellow starting pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, and Rich Hill. The Dodgers well of pitchers is deep; they can use their bullpen, led by All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, to mix and match to the opposing hitter.
Los Angeles also has one of the most powerful offences in the National League. First baseman Max Muncy has soared this year, driving in 35 home runs in the regular season. Additionally, the bats of Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, and trade-deadline-acquisition Manny Machado have been hitting home runs throughout the season, leading the Dodgers all the way to the Fall Classic.
Still, if the Dodgers offence is swinging and missing, they will struggle to stay in the game against Boston. If the Red Sox can earn early leads against the Dodgers’ pitching staff, Los Angeles’ chances at claiming their first World Series trophy since 1988 will be scant.
Boston will win in six games. The Red Sox have a stronger, deeper, and more versatile starting nine. Fans can expect an exciting, hard-fought series to be won with offence, meaning that JD Martinez will be the MVP.