Once again, Greg and I ran into some scheduling issues between rounds of the MLB playoffs so no podcast for this round’s preview. You’d think we’d be able to figure it out but here we are. I even tried to lure Matty D back to baseball but he somehow slept on the field at Beaver Stadium for two nights before appearing at the Linc tonight for the Eagles’ win (not to brag). Anyway, the Fall Classic is here and I couldn’t be more excited. Like one of the firsts posts we ever put up four years ago (!!!!), here is the preview of the 2017 World Series.
Game 1: Tuesday at 8:09 in Los Angeles (Keuchel at Kershaw)
Game 2: Wednesday at 8:09 in Los Angeles (Verlander at Hill)
Game 3: Friday at 8:09 in Houston (Darvish at TBD HOU)
Game 4: Saturday at 8:09 in Houston (Wood at TBD HOU)
Game 5 (if necessary): Sunday at 8:16 in Houston
Game 6: Tuesday, October 31st at 8:09 in Los Angeles
Game 7: Wednesday, November 1st at 8:10 in Los Angeles
Catchers: Austin Barnes/Yasmani Grandal (LAD) vs. Brian McCann/Evan Gattis (HOU)
Barnes started more games in the NLCS but don’t exclude Grandal from that role. McCann hasn’t had the best postseason at the plate but he has made up for it behind the plate. Considering where both lineups get their runs from, I’ll take the defensive player for your catcher. Add Gattis to the mix, especially with the DH option, and the choice is clear. EDGE: Houston
First Base: Cody Bellinger (LAD) vs. Yuli Gurriel (HOU)
While Bellinger had an incredible rookie campaign, Gurriel has had an incredible postseason run batting .336. What’s crazy is that both players have 4 RBI in the postseason and not nearly as many HRs as you’d expect. Considering the pitching both teams have, I wouldn’t expect those power numbers to change. PUSH.
Second Base: Logan Forsythe/Chase Utley/Chris Taylor (LAD) vs. Jose Altuve (HOU)
So here is where LAD’s depth comes into play. Chris Taylor has been fantastic as SS throughout the postseason while Corey Seager has been injured. Seager is active on the World Series lineup (more in a minute) so Taylor could fit here if he’s not in the outfield. You can’t forget the Silver Fox, aka The Man, aka Chase Utley who has platooned with Forsythe. The Dodgers have numerous options up and down the lineup card depending on how they want to make it fit (Utley could even fit as a first baseman). Still, Altuve has started to regain is pre-injury prowess–he’s batting .400 in the 2017 postseason and is one of the most versatile fielders in baseball. EDGE: Houston
Shortstop: Corey Seager/Chris Taylor/Charlie Culbertson (LAD) vs. Carlos Correa (HOU)
I mentioned the rookie Chris Taylor before as he’s been great filling in for Seager. Culbertson has been a bit less in comparison but can still see a fit–once again showing the depth of the Dodgers. If Seager can catch up to the playoff tempo quick, I’d be very very quick to mark this at least as a push. Correa is one of the best hitters in baseball, nonetheless being one of the best hitters coming into the series. EDGE: Houston
Third Base: Justin Turner (LAD) vs. Alex Bregman (HOU)
We’ve seen what Justin Turner can do. The walk-off homer, the .387 average, and 12 RBI. Bregman is… none of that. EDGE: Los Angeles
I’m not breaking down the three positions for the outfield as both teams can mix-and-match as they see fit. Houston is more straight-forward for their positioning than LAD, considering they have about five or six players they can start (including the previously mentioned Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger) against the Astros’ four. The theme of the preview is LAD’s depth and that ability to be dynamic shines in the outfield. EDGE: Los Angeles, barely.
If you noticed, I’ve referred to the Dodgers’ ability to play different players in each position to put together different types of lineups. Houston has its options as well with Carlos Beltran and Evan Gattis as both an option at DH and/or as pinch hitters. I’m not going to give an edge here because the use of a bench really comes down to two factors: early scoring and if the DH is applicable.
Both teams made crucial trades to bring in an extra starter. The two aces will face off in Game 1 to set the tone. Verlander has been incredible for Houston since the trade and should be the difference-maker against Rich Hill. On paper, Yu Darvish and Alex Wood have a bit of an edge on Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton–we saw both of them struggle a bit in the ALCS. That said, Verlander has more quality starts than the entire LAD staff in the postseason. If he was starting Game 1, he might a Bumgarner-type impact–but he’s not. EDGE: Los Angeles
The Dodgers’ bullpen has been lights out this postseason in comparison to the Astros’. It’s important to remember how poorly the two offenses of Arizona and Chicago competed against the Dodgers comparatively to Boston and New York against Houston. Both teams have dominant closers in Ken Giles (HOU) and Kenley Jansen (LAD). Once again though, the Dodgers can flex their depth in the relievers they can use–they simply have more. EDGE: Los Angeles, barely
Greg “The Prophet” Piatelli: Astros in Five
Matty D: Astros in Seven–Gonna be close.
JSB: ‘Stros in Six–Not Stroh’s Light either.
Kenny: Houston–Dodgers have an outstanding offense that is going to score runs. But so long as the Astros don’t slip back into their batting slump, I think they have strong enough pitching staff to minimize the damage the Dodgers can do. I think the Dodgers are more consistent and probably more well rounded, but for an AL team, Houston’s pitching has been their saving grace.
Geordie: Astros in Six–Houston puts the Dodger offensive into a similar position they put the Yankees into but can only split the first two games in LA. While I’d like to think the ‘Stros can win three-straight games, I think the end of the playoff rotation catches up to Houston and the Dodgers forced the series back to LA. With Verlander on the bump for Game Six, Houston wins the World Series without having to stress another Game Seven.
I agree with Matt that it will be close, but Houston has the ability to pull away before Game Seven is necessary.