The Dodgers are in the World Series!!! I’m so pumped!!!
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s take a look at the matchup between the National League pennant winning Dodgers and the American League champs, the Houston Astros.
How They Got Here
Astros: We may have counted out Verlander too soon. The last second waiver-deadline pickup has been nothing short of spectacular in October for the Astros. Three dominant starts, including a series saver in Game 6 of the ALCS versus the Yankees. He even had a pivotal relief appearance during Game 4 of the ALDS in Boston, where the Astros came back to win that game to close out the series. Oh yeah, Jose Altuve also has hit 5 home runs this postseason.
Dodgers: It had almost seemed too easy. The Dodgers have lost one game so far this postseason; that was a one run loss up 3-0 against the Cubs in the NLCS. To say the Dodgers have been anything short of fantastic, you must not have been watching. The Dodgers have given up plenty of homers this postseason, allowing 7 apiece to the Diamondbacks and Cubs. But that’s all they’ve given up. Only three of those fourteen dongs were with runners on. The only non-HR scoring play was a throwing error on an awkward attempt for a 3-6-1 double play in Game 1 of the NLDS. The bullpen is riding a record 23 inning scoreless streak. Justin Turner remains red hot (pun intended) as well.
Astros: Brian McCann and Evan Gattis will share catching duties for the Astros. Gattis will likely be the option versus left-handers, which the Dodgers will be starting 3 out of the first 4 games. Both catchers split better versus righties, however, with Gattis having the bigger differential. Both backstops, especially Gattis, are big time power threats and can certainly punish mistakes.
Dodgers: Austin Barnes will likely see himself be the primary catcher once again with Grandal ice cold. But Barnes was quiet during the NLCS, going 2-15 against the Cubs. His LDS was much better, as he went 4-8 with a clutch home run in Game 3 against Arizona.
Edge: Astros. Gattis and McCann are just hotter than Barnes right now. McCann matches up with Barnes defensively and out hits him, Gattis just out hits him.
Astros: 33-year-old rookie Yuli Gurriel is hitting a scorching .366 in October so far with an OPS of .923. He’s added only 4 RBIs surprisingly, 3 of those on a bases clearing double in game 4 of the ALCS. He has also scored 3 runs.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, after going 3-14 in the NLDS, went 7-22 in the NLCS, good for a respectable .318 average. He has struck out 12 times this postseason, but he has added a pair of home runs. He has also played highlight reel defense.
Edge: Dodgers. Yes, Gurriel has been hot, but he has been surprisingly unproductive. Bellinger brings a threat to launch one high out the park or double every at bat. His speed and defense help him, too.
Astros: Jose Altuve is, in my opinion, the AL MVP. He’s cranked 5 home runs these playoffs, including one each in Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS. He’s also slashing .400/.500/.775.
Dodgers: Logan Forsythe has struggled as of late, only going 2-10 in the NLCS after a successful NLDS. Defensively he’s been good, but needs to swing the bat better.
Edge: Astros. Do I need to explain?
Astros: Alex Bregman has been very hit or miss this postseason. He’s hit only .190 total, slashing .167/.259/.208 in the ALCS. When he has hit, he’s been productive driving in 5 runs on 8 hits, including a pair of home runs against Boston.
Dodgers: Justin Turner has thrust himself into the category of the greatest postseason hitters of all time. He’s hit .387 with an OPS of 1.177 while adding 12 RBIs. His postseason was highlighted by his walk-off 3-run dong against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS. But he also keyed the Dodgers’ opening win of the playoffs, hitting a 3-run homer in the first inning of the NLDS. He’s also only struck out 5 times, walking 6 times.
Edge: Dodgers. Turner is unreal and the more-than-deserving NLCS (co-)MVP.
Astros: Carlos Correa can only be described as solid this postseason. He batted .333 in the ALCS, despite not having an RBI since Game 2 when he drove in both Astros runs in the walk-off win. Correa has also added 3 HR this postseason, two of those against Boston.
Dodgers: The Dodgers won the NLCS handily without Corey Seager even on the roster. Coming off a back issue, Seager will look to build on his NLDS where he walked at least once in every game and only struck out against his worst nightmare, Robby Ray. Defensive specialist Charlie Culberson may man the position defensively in Houston to give Corey a breather from the field. Culberson added key RBIs against the Cubs in the NLCS.
Edge: Astros. Correa has been good enough for the Astros while Seager has been hurt for the Dodgers. As well as Culberson filled in, Correa still easily beats him.
Astros: From left to right, the Astros will trot out Marwin Gonzalez, George Springer, and Josh Reddick. They’ve made some spectacular plays defensively, especially Springer. But the offense leaves much to be desired. They went a combined 7-73 in the ALCS after a good ALDS.
Dodgers: Kiké Hernandez, NLCS co-MVP Chris Taylor, and Yasiel Puig will man the outfield for the Boys in Blue. While Kiké may see limited ABs against right handers, he did hit 3 home runs including a grand slam in Game 5 of the NLCS. Chris Taylor has been spectacular, adding go ahead RBIs on home runs in Games 2 and 3 of the LCS while getting on base at a .410 clip from the leadoff spot. Yasiel Puig has been the emotional spark for the Dodgers, but has also contributed a .414/.514/.655 slash line in the postseason.
Edge: Dodgers. The Dodgers' outfielders, outside of Granderson who didn’t make the roster, have been spectacular this postseason, while the Astros’ corps was dismal in the last series.
Astros: Justin Verlander has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason, especially in the ALCS. Dallas Keuchel had two solid starts against the Red Sox and the Yankees at home, but struggled in his last start at Yankee Stadium, giving up 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings. Behind the two co-aces, Charlie Morton had a key outing against the Yankees in Game 7, but was tagged for 7 runs at Yankee stadium in Game 3 of the series. Lance McCullers is also another solid but inconsistent option for the Astros.
Dodgers: Outside of the home run numbers, Clayton Kershaw has been good this postseason. His clinching start in Game 5 against the Cubs was an ace outing, despite only striking out 5 batters. Rich Hill has gone full psycho on the mound and stifled hitters outside of a pair of home runs that eventually didn’t matter in Dodger wins. Yu Darvish has been the Dodgers’ version of Justin Verlander, a midseason pickup paying off in the playoffs as he’s hurled two fantastic Game 3 starts on the road. The only pitcher to lose a game for the Dodgers is Alex Wood, whose narrow Game 4 loss was his first action since the regular season.
Edge: Dodgers. While Verlander is the best pitcher in this series, Keuchel is not necessarily better than either Kershaw or Hill. The Dodgers’ depth is what sets them apart from the Astros, as well.
Astros: The Astros pen has been shaky outside of closer Ken Giles who hasn’t gone completely unscathed. Manager AJ Hinch doesn’t seem too confident in options like Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, or Chris Devenksi.
Dodgers: The Dodgers on the other hand, have been amazing. 23 straight scoreless innings pitched is a new Major League record. Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson, two trade pickups, have been dominant against lefties. Kenta Maeda has thrived in his role as a short-stint righty specialist. Josh Fields has been shutdown. Brandon Morrow has been a dominant fireman reliever. And the best closer in the game, Kenley Jansen, has been untouchable. This may be the best postseason bullpen performance of all time.
Edge: Dodgers. Best bullpen this postseason, not much else to say about it.
Final Tally: Dodgers 5-3.
Both teams are great, obviously. But the Dodgers seem to have a solid pitching advantage especially in the bullpen. The swagger of this team reminds me of that historic 43-7 stretch over the summer, as well. Supreme confidence and talent on the Dodgers will win out over the extremely talented but shaky-at-times Astros. Dodgers in 5 or 6.