Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers? Stan "The Fan" Charles and Glenn Clark made their picks for the World Series:
More from Stan "The Fan" Charles:
Recent World Series history is inconclusive as to the Los Angeles Dodgers' chances of capturing their first World Series since 1988, when the late Jack Buck said he couldn't believe what he'd just seen -- the
game-winning home run by the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson
against the Oakland Athletics and their ace reliever Dennis Eckersley.
The Dodgers pushed the Houston Astros to seven games last year, and recent history does show how tough it is to make it into back-to-back Series. Of course, back in the last century, the New York Yankees had quite a run, winning four championships from 1996-2000 and appearing in five of six World Series from 1996-2001. Since then, the Charlie Manuel's Philadelphia Phillies made it in 2008 and 2009, beating the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 before falling to the Yankees in 2009 for manager Joe Girardi's lone World Series win.
Ron Washington's Texas Rangers made it to two in a row, losing to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 before succumbing to the St. Louis Cardinals in a nail-biting seven-game series in 2011. And then there were the 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals under Ned Yost. After losing in seven games to the Giants in 2014, the Royals were able to easily dispense of the New York Mets in five games the following season.
Well, this year's Series has the No. 1 team in terms of wins in all of baseball -- the Red Sox (108 wins during the regular season) -- squaring off against the repeat National League champion Dodgers, winners of 17 fewer games than the Sox.
While the Red Sox made pretty quick work of the reigning champion Astros in five games, it took the Dodgers a full seven games to get back to the Series again, besting the Milwaukee Brewers in a tense matchup.
So, what chances do the Dodgers have of getting by the Red Sox, who took control of the No. 1 spot in my power rankings July 2 and held it until Oct. 1, buoyed by a 29-6 streak from July 1-Aug. 11?
Well, let's start off by saying that if Boston's Game 1 and 2 starters -- lefties Chris Sale and David Price -- are on top of their games, it could be a pretty early checkmate by the Sox against the Dodgers.
But that's why they play the games, and clearly Sale has been only a fraction of the pitcher he was from Opening Day to Aug. 12. On that date, Sale pitched five shutout innings in his return from a brief stint on the disabled list, which lowered his ERA to 1.97. But Sale returned to the disabled list, and he pitched in just four games from Sept. 11 to the end of the season, totaling 12 innings and an ERA of 3.75.
So far during this postseason, Sale has tossed 10.1 innings and allowed four earned runs for an ERA of 3.48. Combine that fact with the news he'll more than likely match up against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw at least two times if this series goes deep, and you'd at least have to say the Dodgers have a slight edge.
But let's not get too far out over our skis, as some of that advantage is mitigated by the fact Kershaw and the National League pitchers will face the designated hitter-heavy lineups of the American League. Another factor that mitigates the Dodgers' edge against the AL champs is the on-base percentage factor. Outfielder Mookie Betts (.438), designated hitter J.D. Martinez (.402), first baseman Steve Pearce (.394), outfielder Andrew Benintendi (.366) and shortstop Xander Bogaerts (.360) present a very scary road to navigate for Dodger hurlers.
In the other dugout, third baseman Justin Turner (.406) and first baseman Max Muncy (.391) can be very tough outs, but shortstop Manny Machado (.338 with the Dodgers) and outfielders Cody Bellinger (.343), Yasiel Puig (.327), Chris Taylor (.331) and Joc Pederson (.321) don't figure to get too many real rallies underway for the Dodgers.
The Sox got some tremendous work out of their patchwork bullpen against the Astros, but it remains to be seen if guys like right-handers Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes can hold up with a championship on the line.
Anecdotally, one side story making its way through MLB is the part that former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne may play in this series. Apparently Gagne, who is friends with Red Sox skipper Alex Cora, phoned Cora and ended up advising Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel on how he might have been tipping his pitches. We'll keep an eye on how that plays out during the next eight to nine days.
Ultimately, the reason I like Los Angeles' chances is that skipper Dave Roberts has a deep, talented pitching staff that presents him with a number of matchups. Roberts has lefties Scott Alexander and Alex Wood at his disposal, and he added young left-hander Julio Urias during the playoffs. Look for them to be ready late in any close game to work on Benintendi, Rafael Devers or Brock Holt -- the three key left-handed batters for the Red Sox.
One other name to remember is Dodgers rookie right-hander Walker Buehler. On the cusp of stardom, Buehler tweeted out a picture of him and his sister at Dodger Stadium during a World Series game in 2017. Buehler's starts, where he might match up with former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, could be keys for a winning Dodgers run.
Remember, all this goes out the window if Sale and Price are on top of their games. I don't see both rising to the occasion.
Give me Los Angeles in seven games.