October 22, 2018
By: Steve Degler
The 2018 World Series will feature two of the most iconic franchises in the game. The Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of the National League pennant, will be making the franchise's 20th appearance in the Fall Classic. The Dodgers, who lost to Houston in the series last year, have won it all six times. Their last title was 30 years ago. The American League champions, the Boston Red Sox, will play in the final series of the season for the 13th time. Boston is an eight-time champion despite an 86-year drought that ended in 2004. Boston and San Francisco are the only teams with three World Series titles this century.
There is some serious star power in this World Series. The Dodgers feature Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner and Manny Machado among their top players. The Red Sox counter with Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Craig Kimbrel.
The two teams took different paths to get here and now they meet in the World Series for the first time in 102 years. The Dodgers were forced to win Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Red Sox surprisingly knocked out the defending champion Astros in five games, winning all three games at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The list of potential individual match-ups is captivating, as are the questions. Kershaw could square off against Sale multiple times. Can Jansen and Kimbrel, two elite closers who have had their struggles this year, shut down the big guns on the other team with the game on the line? Will David Price build off his great Game Five start in Houston or will he revert to struggling October David Price? Can Nathan Eovaldi continue to pitch lights out for Boston? Will LA youngster Walker Buehler continue to pitch well on the biggest stage? I can't wait to start getting some answers, beginning with the series opener at Fenway Park Tuesday night.
Many times, the World Series is dominated by the guys who aren't stars. Look for Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland for Boston while the Dodgers could get big contributions from Max Muncy and Chris Taylor. And the bullpen that performs better gives its team the advantage. Dave Roberts has the experience of having managed in last year's World Series. But Alex Cora was there, and on the winning side as bench coach for Houston.
It has the makings of a series that should go at least six games, if not all seven. Each team seems too good to be gone in four or five games. It looks as though Boston will use Betts at second base for the games at Dodger Stadium (no designated hitter) in order to keep Martinez in the line-up. That shouldn't be a big deal. The athletic Betts came up through the Red Sox system as a second baseman but moved to the outfield because of the presence of Dustin Pedroia.
As a Red Sox fan, it is very hard to pick against them. So I won't. I think Rick Porcello is a real key in this series. If he pitches well, as both a starter and a reliever, the Red Sox will be in much better shape. Betts, Benintendi and Martinez did not do a whole lot offensively against the Astros. Hard to see that happening for another entire series. I'll take the Red Sox in seven games with Mookie Betts as the MVP. Enjoy!! Whichever teams wins, it should be a fantastic series.