Author: Daniel Labosky
A sensational 2018 MLB season and postseason has finally reached its climax in late October. The Boston Red Sox, who were baseball’s best team in terms of record; and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are making their second straight appearance in the Fall Classic, will face off. Both teams found different ways to make it all the way to the end. Boston has been steady all season counting on two of the best players in baseball: Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Los Angeles struggled throughout the season before making big moves at the trade deadline and won the N.L West by just one game. In a star-studded series, here is everything you need to know for the Fall Classic 2018:
Schedule: *All games will be broadcasted on FOX
Game 1: @Boston, Tuesday Oct. 23, 7:09 p.m. CT
Game 2: @Boston, Wednesday Oct. 24, 7:09 p.m. CT
Game 3: @Los Angeles, Friday Oct. 26, 7:09 p.m. CT
Game 4: @Los Angeles, Saturday Oct. 27, 7:09 p.m. CT
Game 5: @Los Angeles, Sunday Oct. 28, 7:15 p.m. CT*if necessary
Game 6: @Boston, Tuesday Oct. 30, 7:09 p.m. CT*if necessary
Game 7: @Boston, Wednesday Oct. 31, 7:09 p.m. CT* if necessary
Odds: *according to SportsBook USA
Boston Red Sox: -135 (favorite)
LA Dodgers: +115 (underdog)
How they got here:
Boston Red Sox (108-54): Boston was able to take care of their arch-rival New York Yankees in four games in the ALDS winning 3-1. They defeated the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros, in the ALCS, in just five games winning 4-1. The Red Sox have been the best team all season and wound up winning their division by eight games in rout to running away with the leagues’ best record. Boston was able to achieve a run differential of +229 – good for second in the MLB. It is their first appearance in the World Series since 2013.
Los Angeles Dodgers (92-71): Back for the second straight season, the reigning N.L Champions were able to defeat Atlanta in four games, and the home town team Milwaukee Brewers in seven games. The Dodgers received a major upgrade at the shortstop position in the form of All-Star Manny Machado at the trade deadline. They were able to hold off the Colorado Rockies and win the N.L. West by just one game. They boast the leagues’ third best run differential at +194. The Dodgers were also able to achieve a 51-38 record against above-.500 teams, best in the MLB. It is their second consecutive appearance in the World Series.
Hitters to Watch: *postseason numbers
- D. Martinez: .313 BA, 4 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI. Martinez is an MVP candidate and a threat to hit a homerun each time he comes to the plate. He will look to feast on the left-handed pitchers (such as Clayton Kershaw) in this series
- Mookie Betts: .205 BA, 8 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI. Betts is yet another MVP candidate for Boston, but has struggled this postseason. Known for being a clutch hitter, Betts hit .346 in the regular season, which was tops in the MLB.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.: .185 BA, 5 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI. Bradley Jr. may have struggled at the plate this season in terms of average, but the former South Carolina standout has been clutch for the Red Sox in the postseason when he hit both a 3-run HR, and a Grand Slam in the ALCS against the Astros.
X-Factor: Rafael Devers: Devers is batting .350 this postseason and has been clutch for the Red Sox. Look for him to be a situational hitter excelling against right-handers.
- Manny Machado: .250 BA, 7 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI. Machado was a huge pick up for the Dodgers coming over in a blockbuster trade from the Orioles. He bats clean-up and will be a tough out in this series.
- Yasiel Puig: .333 BA, 3 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI. One of the most exciting and polarizing players in the game today, Puig has been a stalwart for the Dodgers lineup. He hit a three-run home run in game 7 of the NLCS to seal the game.
- Justin Turner: .279 BA, 4 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI. Turner has struggled with strikeouts, but has proven to get on base and cause havoc. He will be counted on heavily if the Dodgers want to win this time around.
X-factor: David Freese: The veteran has been a thorn in the side of teams this postseason. He has a history of clutch at bats in the World Series with St. Louis.
Pitchers to Watch:
- Chris Sale: 1-0, 10.1 IP, 14 SO, 3.48 ERA. Far-and-away the best starting pitcher Boston has on their roster. Sale has been almost impossible to hit this season. He is dealing with an unknown illness so his availability is up in the air. If he’s healthy though, look for manager Alex Cora to not only start Sale, but bring him out of the bullpen.
- David Price: 1-1, 12.1 IP, 13 SO, 5.11 ERA. Price has been much better this postseason than in years past. The knock on him has always been that he doesn’t perform in the postseason, and he will get to prove that theory wrong in this series.
- Craig Kimbrel: 5 Saves, 6.1 IP, 8 SO, 7.11 ERA. It has certainly been a sweat any time Kimbrel gets the ball late in games for the Red Sox. He narrowly avoided disasters in both series’ and will no doubt be counted on to close out games in this series.
X-Factor: Nathan Eovaldi: Boasting a 2-0 record, Eovaldi has been outstanding for the Red Sox in spot start duty. He will most likely start a game in the middle of this series and will be counted on. Can hit 100 MPH+ on the radar gun.
- Clayton Kershaw: 2-1, 19 IP, 16 SO, 2.37 ERA. The lefty has been trying to shake off his stereotype of underachieving in the postseason. He is the ace of the staff for the Dodgers and like Chris Sale for Boston, could come out of the bullpen in this series.
- Hyun-Jin Ryu: 1-1, 14.1 IP, 15 SO, 4.40 ERA. Another lefty, Ryu will most likely start game 3 or 4 after pitching in game 7 of the NLCS. He has been solid this postseason but with the number of righties in the Red Sox order, could struggle in this series.
- Kenley Jansen: 3 Saves, 6.2 IP, 10 SO, 0.00 ERA. The shutdown closer has yet to allow a run in the postseason and has been a confidence boost for manager Dave Roberts. If the Dodgers have the lead late in games, you’ll see Jansen.
X-Factor: Pedro Baez: Baez has not given up an earned run coming out of the bullpen and has generated 10 strikeouts in just 6.2 innings. The 30-year-old will be tough to hit coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers.
The Pick: Boston Red Sox in 7 games.
This series will be must-watch every single game. I see an advantage for Boston in the hitting department, but an advantage for the Dodgers in the pitching aspect. Los Angeles was here just a year ago and will be hungry to finish the job this time around. I see this series coming right down to the final game on Halloween night, with not much to split the two clubs. But, I think Boston has just enough timely hitting and pitching to finish the job. Enjoy the Fall Classic!