Posted on October 23, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Houston Astros World Series

Image via usatoday.com

The 10 teams that made it to the baseball postseason this year could all be considered legitimate threats to reach the World Series. That being said, there should be little surprise that the Dodgers and Astros are the two teams left playing in the 2017 World Series. Both won over 100 games during the regular season and have continued to impress during the playoffs, setting up what should be an outstanding Fall Classic.

Offense – Push

During the regular season, the Astros had the best offense in baseball, but during the postseason, the Dodgers have looked unstoppable. Key players like Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, and Chris Taylor have all had exceptional postseasons. But the biggest key for Los Angeles has been production from unexpected sources like Yasiel Puig, Enrique Hernandez, and Logan Forsythe. The Dodgers have showcased a surprising amount of lineup depth during the postseason, which is why they are averaging six runs per game through eight playoff games.

Meanwhile, the Astros have been up and down offensively during the postseason, averaging four runs per game after scoring 5.5 runs per game during the regular season. There’s no denying that Houston’s lineup is powerful and capable of great things, which is why this matchup is a push. However, both George Springer and Josh Reddick, the top two hitters in the batting order, struggled to get going throughout the ALCS. The bottom of the lineup also failed to contribute consistently. The trio of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Yuli Gurriel has done great things, but in the World Series, they’ll need more help than they got in the ALCS.

Rotation – Advantage Dodgers

The Dodgers get a slight edge in this department because they have better depth in their rotation than the Astros. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t been unbeatable this postseason, but every time he takes the mound, the Dodgers feel like he’s going to have a dominating performance. The presence of Yu Darvish and Rich Hill behind him is something that the Astros can’t match. Hill has been solid but unspectacular during the playoffs, but Darvish has been at his absolute best in his two postseason starts, allowing just eight hits in 11.1 innings while striking out 14. Even Alex Wood gives the Dodgers a no. 4 starter they can trust for one decent start in the World Series.

On the other side, the Astros have dual aces in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, but beyond them, there are question marks. To be fair, Charlie Morton came up big in Game 7 of the  ALCS, but he still has a 6.23 ERA in three starts this postseason. Lance McCullers Jr. has pitched well, but he’s been more important coming out of the bullpen during the playoffs. It’s also fair to wonder how much Verlander has left in the tank after two magnificent performances in the ALCS. If Verlander starts to tire, there will be a limit to how far he and Keuchel can carry the Astros.

Bullpen – Advantage Dodgers

This is another department where the Dodgers have the edge. The Astros have played more games in the playoffs, allowing the Houston bullpen to be a little more exposed. However, much like the rotation, the Astros are lacking in depth in their bullpen. Starters like McCullers and Collin McHugh have come up big, but even closer Ken Giles has been hit hard a couple times. For the most part, the Astros are just trying to piece things together to get from their starter to Giles. This is a potential weakness that Houston may have to overcome to win the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles bullpen has been excellent in the playoffs. Both Kenley Jansen and Brandon Morrow have been exceptional, together allowing just one earned run over 16.1 innings. Kenta Maeda has also moved from the rotation to the bullpen and become a reliable option in relief. The Dodgers also have lefties in Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani just in case they need to play the matchups late in games, giving them plenty of options coming out of the bullpen.

Prediction – Dodgers in 6 games

This should be a competitive series, but the Dodgers have a distinct advantage in the pitching department. Los Angeles can feel confident no matter who is starting and no matter who is coming out of the bullpen. The Astros don’t have that luxury. Houston’s lineup is powerful enough to score runs against Dodger pitching, but the Los Angeles lineup can do the same. Ultimately, the depth the Dodgers have all over the roster will pay dividends, allowing them to win the World Series in six games.

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