The World Series begins tonight as the Houston Astros travel to Los Angeles for Game 1 of what promises to be a classic among Fall Classics. Here’s what to watch out for as the Astros look to win the first World Championship in team history and the Dodgers look to crown a 104 victory season with their first title since 1988.
Well-Rested vs Battle-Tested?
The two teams took very different postseason paths to reach the World Series, with the Dodgers cruising to a 4-1 NLCS win over the Cubs and the Astros needing seven games to hold off a scrappy Yankees squad. This means that the Dodgers come in well-rested and with their ideal pitching rotation set up, while the Astros are just off a long series that saw their energy and emotional levels raised to a fever pitch.
So each team faces questions regarding their mental and physical readiness. Yes, in addition to being well-rested, the Dodgers have more recent postseason experience on their side, but can they ratchet up the intensity quickly enough after a long layoff? The steady presence of perennial ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound means Los Angeles might only need to manufacture 3-4 runs to win Game 1, but will the so-so LA offense be able to turn it up a few notches if their other starters or the bullpen falters?
As for the Astros, will they experience a bit of a letdown after the seven-game emotional jag against the Yankees? Or will their league-leading offense be able to keep the team’s energy up by hammering through the Dodgers’ starters and forcing manager Dave Roberts to dig into the weaker part of his bullpen? It’s difficult to say how any of this will play out, but the Astros face long odds in Game 1 and can’t afford an 0-2 deficit.
Astros Offense vs Dodgers Pitching
The Astros bring the league’s best offense into the World Series, while the Dodgers rode in on the arms of the second-best pitching staff in the majors. Conventional wisdom says that great pitching negates great hitting in October and November, but that hasn’t been a lockdown guarantee in recent years and the Astros won over 100 games for a reason.
But here’s the thing, or two things really: the Astros will be facing Kershaw at least two times and the Dodgers’ middle relievers have done a much better job this year bridging the gap between their starters and closer Kenly Jansen. These facts, along with Houston’s relative lack of postseason appearance, lead us to predict a Dodgers’ World Title in six games.