This week, the World Series gets underway between the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays and the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rays are in just their second World Series in franchise history, while the Dodgers are in their third in the past four seasons. The Dodgers are certainly the favorite on paper, but if this postseason has shown us anything, it’s that you can’t count out the Rays and their new-school analytics style of baseball. Prior to the start of Game 1, we’re giving our predictions for how this series will play out.
This is going to be a very close series in my opinion. The Tampa Bay Rays are as balanced and exciting a team as we’ve seen in recent years. They have the starting pitching, they have the bullpen and they have Randy Arozarena.
Taking a look at the starting matchups—it’s going to be Glasnow versus Kershaw in Game 1. Give me Glasnow there, he throws the kind of gas the Dodgers have yet to really see this postseason.
Then we get Snell against TBD in Game 2; Snell has been solid this postseason but not overpowering. I have a feeling the Dodgers righties might tee off on the former Cy Young winner. Mookie Betts has a .892 career OPS with six RBIs against the lefty, who used to be in the same division as Snell before the Boston Red Sox traded him. The Dodgers could theoretically throw rookie Dustin May here after he threw just one inning in Game 7 of the NLCS. I’d say a high scoring game but the Rays pull it out with some late heroics against the Dodgers bullpen.
Then it’s Walker Buehler in Game 3 so that’s a wrap on that game.
From there, all hell is going to break loose. I think the Rays have the bullpen depth to hold the Dodgers offense down. I am concerned their offense won’t be enough, considering they didn’t score more than five runs in any ALCS game.
I definitely agree this is going to be a close series. I think it will go at least six games, but I believe it will be the Dodgers who come out on top. As manager Dave Roberts said after the NLCS, this is their year. It has to be. They’ve been probably the most consistently good team in the past decade, winning the NL West in the past eight years. However, they fell short in the playoffs in each of those years. I believe this year is different though.
LA’s pitching staff is lethal with the three-headed monster of Kershaw, May and Buehler. And they added a top-three player in baseball in Betts to an already star-studded lineup. Corey Seager killed it in the NLCS with five home runs, and if former MVP Cody Bellinger can find his form after that big go-ahead home run in Game 7, even the Rays aces will have some trouble.
In reality, this should be a no-brainer, and the Dodgers actually have the talent to sweep, but I think the Rays will steal a couple of games to make it interesting.
MM: There is some part of me that has trouble believing in this Dodgers team. They got taken to the very edge in the NLCS against a Braves pitching staff that outperformed. Ian Anderson and Max Fried are very good pitchers, don’t get me wrong, but they are no Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell. The Rays have the arms to stifle a Dodgers lineup that has two MVPs among its ranks. They had the third-best team in ERA in baseball this season and the same team ERA in this postseason as the Dodgers, despite playing more games.
The Rays and Dodgers both employ a similar on-field approach. The Dodgers have more offensive talent, the Rays have better pitching and defense. It’s going to come down to a few plays at the margins. Either way it goes, it should be a wild ride. I think Kevin Cash has a creative enough mind to get it done. I could be wrong, that’s baseball. My final answer is Rays winning in a seven-game thriller.
DB: I think there’s a decent chance this goes seven games, and as we know, in a Game 7, anything can happen. However, I see the Rays in the same way I saw the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. They’re a fun team that’s easy to root for that took a different approach to their success. (The Heat not having a real superstar and leaning on a different guy each night, the Rays in their use of the opener and never letting a starter face a lineup three times.) However in both cases, once they get to the championship, they’re facing a team that’s just better.
It’s true the Dodgers got pushed to the edge by a very good Braves team. But the Rays were also pushed to the edge by a sub-.500 Astros team. They were a couple of runs away from joining the New York Yankees as the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in a playoff series. They survived and are here now, but it’s not like they dominated while the Dodgers barely snuck by.
In addition, Glasnow and Snell are great pitchers, and they may ball out in this series. But neither one has been particularly dominant this postseason. Snell had a bad outing against the Yankees, while Glasnow had a rough game against the Astros. So it’s not like these guys are a guaranteed shutout on the mound. I actually don’t believe the Rays have an advantage in starting pitching, and the Dodgers are way ahead of the Rays on offense. So I believe much like the NBA Finals, LA will dominate for the most part, but Tampa will find a way to push it to six games.