The Red Sox have had one of the smoothest seasons you’ll ever see today in Major League Baseball. They won a franchise-best 108 games and faced little resistance in the postseason, where they lost just twice en route to capturing the American League pennant.
The Dodgers slept through April and May and found themselves fighting for their playoff lives into September. Eventually, the emerged as the NL West champions, despite losing eighteen more games than Boston of the 162.
The two lefties everybody knows face one-another at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. It’s Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale in Game 1 of the World Series from Boston.
All season I’ve been waiting for Boston’s bullpen to be its undoing but Matt Barnes allowed one run while appearing in all five ALCS games and Ryan Brasier didn’t allow any in four. It’s pretty much those two and Craig Kimbrel, who has been informed that he had been tipping his pitches ever since the playoffs started, according to a USA Today report.
That trio of right-handers may be enough but what comes after doesn’t give the Red Sox much room for error. Meanwhile, depth is the Dodgers’ strength. LA never solved Milwaukee’s pitching in the NLCS but it did wear it down just enough over the seven games to survive and advance, and Boston can’t match the depth Milwaukee had.
Five of the eight starting pitchers in this series are left-handed but I’m more concerned about Boston neutralizing LA’s lefty bats than I am about the other way around. David Price is actually tougher on righties and the Red Sox don’t carry a lefty in the ‘pen aside from Eduardo Rodriguez, who only threw one inning in the ALCS. The Astros weren’t very left-handed, though, so E-Rod will be much more important in this series. Caleb Ferguson and Julio Urias should do what Houston was unable to do, which was get Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. out in high-leverage situations. Neither of those guys hit lefties well so Roberts won’t hesitate to make a move.
Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger could be huge problems for the Red Sox in this series but Chris Sale has the advantage tonight. He’s going into this game on nine days rest and he’s only thrown just over ten innings in the entire postseason. He claims he’s healthy and he should be fresh but it’s hard to feel confident in him as a favorite tonight because he hasn’t pitched well for a while now. Alex Cora is counting on him flipping the switch in the World Series.
Five fulls days have passed since Clayton Kershaw last started a game, though he did get the final three outs on fifteen pitches in Game 7 against the Brewers on Saturday night. He’s been excellent in three of his four total appearances in the postseason but is an underdog for the first time since 2012. The only guys on Boston’s roster he has faced before are Ian Kinsler (1-for-2, BB) and JD Martinez (5-for-11, 2 HR).
Though it would have sounded insane to say a couple of months ago, Cora is taking a big chance entrusting Sale with this start, given his recent form. Boston went just 2–2 at home in the AL playoffs but ran the table, 5–0, on the road. What does it all mean?
In my estimation, this series will come down to which offense can get a couple guys hot, which also depends quite a bit on the opposing pitching. Boston must take advantage of its superior outfield defense but I believe LA is better situated in the bullpen with the more predictable starting pitcher on this night. In a series that feels mysterious at the outset, I’m taking the plus-money in Game 1.
Play: Dodgers +130