Posted on October 22, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Nearly seven months after the 2018 MLB season began, we’re finally down to two teams. The 2018 World Series will be played between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The storylines for the series are endless, most notably Dodgers manager Dave Roberts being a former playoff hero in Boston. It’s also worth noting that Roberts and Red Sox manager Alex Cora were teammates with the Dodgers from 2002 to 2004 and remain friends. Of course, all that matters now is how the 2018 versions of both teams match up against one another.
Offense – Advantage Red Sox
The Red Sox have been the best offensive team in baseball all season, and that’s not about to change in the World Series. In their nine playoff games, the Red Sox are averaging more than six runs per game. In seven of those nine games, they’ve scored at least four runs, winning all seven of those games. It’s not just MVP candidates like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez who are doing the damage. Rafael Devers and ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. have both been clutch. Most games, the Red Sox are getting contributions from someone in the bottom half of their lineup, and it’s making a big difference.
The Dodgers have been a little less explosive during the postseason, averaging just under four runs per game in their 11 postseason games. During the NLCS, they were held to two runs or less in three of the seven games, so they’ve been a little hot and cold. That being said, they have 13 home runs from 10 different players during the postseason. They have power up and down their lineup, and even the players who haven’t hit much during the playoffs are capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark at any time. The key for Los Angeles may be finding ways other than the long ball to score runs.
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Rotation – Push
This area is too close to call. The ERA of Dodgers starters in the postseason is nearly identical to Boston’s starters. Clayton Kershaw has looked the part of an ace, even when he hasn’t had his best stuff. Walker Buehler’s start in Game 7 of the NLCS was certainly a reason to be optimistic heading into the World Series. Rich Hill has also been reliable when called upon. The wildcard of the group is Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will have to bounce back after struggling in Game 6 of the NLCS.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, should also be pleased with how their starters have performed during the playoffs. David Price shook off a rough start against the Yankees during the ALDS and gave Boston two clutch performances during the ALCS. Nathan Eovaldi has also been a revelation in his two playoff starts. The wildcard for the Red Sox is ace Chris Sale, who was bumped from Game 5 of the ALCS after a brief stint in the hospital. As long as he’s healthy, the Red Sox will be fine. But if Sale isn’t himself after the medical issue, Boston could have a hard time winning this series.
Bullpen – Advantage Dodgers
Boston’s bullpen has been much better than expected during the playoffs. The likes of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Joe Kelly have all been outstanding. However, closer Craig Kimbrel has had his problems. Technically, he’s five for five in save opportunities. But he’s given up five runs over 6.1 innings, which amounts to a 7.11 ERA. He has plenty of postseason experience, so it’s not that the moment is getting to him. However, something is a little off with him. If he doesn’t figure it out, he could get into trouble against a team with as much power as the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles bullpen has posted a 1.30 ERA in the postseason, blowing away Boston’s bullpen ERA of 3.62. The Dodgers also have more depth than the Red Sox. Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, and Caleb Ferguson have combined for 21 shutout innings in the playoffs. That doesn’t include Ryan Madson, who has allowed one run over 6.1 innings. The Dodgers also have starters Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, and Julio Urias in their bullpen. In short, they have a pitcher for virtually every occasion.
Prediction – Red Sox in 6
The Dodgers didn’t dominate the regular season the same way the Red Sox did, but they are a serious threat to win this series. However, it’s tough to bet against the Red Sox after they made quick work of the Astros during the ALCS. The Dodgers are also reminiscent of the Yankees team that Boston dismantled in the ALDS, as Los Angeles can be too reliant on the long ball at times. The Dodgers have the pitching to push this series to six or seven games, but they won’t outlast the Red Sox the way they did the Brewers in the NLCS. Boston wins in six games.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.