We don’t often get to say that in a World Series, but for the first time since 1970, two sides with 100+ wins face off for the biggest prize of them all.
By mid-August, the Dodgers looked set to break all sorts of records for wins as they sat pretty with a record of 91-36. Then, they floundered somewhat and went on their longest losing streak in history.
The ballclub did acquire Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish in this time period, though. His early struggles were well-documented, but the Dodgers were always convinced he’d help them out massively in the postseason.
All-in-all, the Dodgers went on to finish an ‘underwhelming’ 104-58, in the context of what could have been. However, the most important aspect may have been that they finished hot. Form returned at the right time, and they look to ride that wave of momentum to a first title in nearly thirty years.
Travelling east, the Astros had a mediocre August – but that aside, were consistent. They were 21 games ahead of the LA Angels in the AL West and were home and hosed a long way out. This is coming off the back of a season where they were just above .500 and only really added quality in Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann pre-season.
Momentum is everything in baseball. Everything.
The Dodgers can boast a four-man rotation that is the envy of the major leagues. Clayton Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young winner and their undoubted ace. Rich Hill follows him – that curveball has largely stood the test of time and he was close to a perfect game in Pittsburgh this year.
Then comes the aforementioned Yu Darvish and finally, Alex Wood – who’s notched sixteen wins on the season, with an ERA of under 3. However, their strength lies with their bullpen – a brilliantly organised bunch of relievers at the mercy of Dave Roberts.
The Dodgers are going to the World Series. I repeat the Los Angeles Dodgers are going to the World Series!!!!
— Dodgers Talk (@LaDodgersTalk) October 20, 2017
The Astros have considerable strength across their starting rotation as well, however. Justin Verlander came across from Detroit on the deadline and while he’s consistently a good pitcher – nobody quite saw the domination he’s shown, coming.
Dallas Keuchel, like half the Dodgers team, spent some time injured this season but looks back to himself. Lance McCullers – a fiery character is a projected game four starter, while Charlie Morton rounds off their mound men.
LA are a minefield for opposing pitchers and their strength at-bat has only increased with notable showings in the playoffs from Chris Taylor and Charlie Culberson. It’s genuinely hard to find an easy out among them, and they’re masters of getting on base.
Their patience behind the plate is incredible and you dare not walk their lead-off. Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner have the hottest bats coming into this slog, but anyone is capable of piling up the numbers at any given time.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 22, 2017
For Houston, their offence centres more around the superstar that is Jose Altuve. He’s had four straight seasons of 200 hits and that streak probably won’t end this year, either. Centre fielder George Springer adds even more pace to a good base-running lineup and Brian McCann is liable to blast one into orbit the odd time. They’re less balanced, but almost as equally talented in terms of personnel.
Postseason So Far:
Dave Roberts’ squad swept Arizona in the NLDS, before taking Chicago in five games in the NLCS.
There’s not much to say, other than the fact they’re on fire. Justin Turner’s walk-off home run is a particular highlight.
The Astros haven’t had it quite as easy. They’ve had to insert starters in relief situations and their sync was out of tune for a while. That’s what you expect in situations like this, but when your opponents have had no such worries, it becomes an issue. They only dropped one game to Boston in the ALDS, but did need a game seven to get by the Yankees, even after being 2-0 ahead.
The obvious conclusion is that it’s going to be one for the ages. The Dodgers to win it in six.