Posted on October 24, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox got a leg up in their quest to win a world title by taking Game 1 of the World Series 8-4. Of course, the Dodgers won Game 1 of last year’s World Series and ended up losing the series, so this series is far from over. That being said, there is a fair amount of pressure on the Dodgers in Wednesday’s Game 2. With the Red Sox being 5-0 on the road during the postseason, the Dodgers don’t want to head home down 2-0 in the series.
Most expected a pitcher’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale in Game 1. Instead, a hitter’s duel broke out. Both aces were chased from the game before they could even finish the 5th inning. That could be a sign that we’re poised to see a lot of runs in this World Series. It also signals that the bullpens will be vital in this series, as both did a lot of heavy lifting in Game 1. Even though the Red Sox bullpen was better in Game 1, the Los Angeles bullpen has more depth, which could give them a little bit of an edge in Game 2.
Down a game in the series, the Dodgers will look to Hyun-Jin Ryu to help them even up the series. Ryu was magnificent in his 15 regular season starts and he continued that during the NLDS. However, he struggled in both of his starts against the Brewers in the NLCS. His numbers were also a little more modest on the road this season compared to when he pitched at Dodger Stadium. In fact, both of his starts during the NLCS came on the road. Obviously, he’ll have to get things turned around quickly for his first-ever start at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
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The Red Sox will send David Price to the Mound in Game 2. Price continued his postseason struggles during the ALDS against the Yankees. But he managed to put those problems behind him during his two starts in the ALCS. He was functional in his first start against the Astros but then tossed six shutout innings in the series-clinching win. The Red Sox can only hope that he continues to build off that start and can continue to put his postseason demons behind him.
For the Red Sox, the bullpen may be the biggest X-factor in Game 2. They needed five innings from their relievers in Game 1, using most of their best arms. Even if Price has a good game, they’ll still need three or four more innings from the bullpen in Game 2. As mentioned, Boston’s bullpen isn’t as deep as the Los Angeles bullpen. The good news is that no one used in Game 1 threw more than 20 pitches, so everyone should be available. However, it also means the Dodgers will get a second look at the pitchers they faced in Game 1.
For the Dodgers, the X-factor is Matt Kemp. He has rarely played during the postseason, but with the Dodgers able to use a DH, it’s easier to put Kemp in the lineup. He got the Dodgers on the scoreboard with a 2nd-inning home run in Game 1, immediately making an impact. Game 2 may be his last chance to get more than one at-bat in a game unless the Dodgers push the series to six or seven games, so Kemp needs to make the most of his opportunity.
Has Price done enough to believe he can deliver in a World Series game? Actually, that doesn’t matter. Boston’s bats are so hot right now that they can win a slugfest even if Price has an off night. There’s a good chance the Red Sox get to Ryu early, putting the Dodgers in another early hole. Boston wins 9-7.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.