The World Series begins tonight in Boston as the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers will play for a big, shiny trophy. The Red Sox won 108 games during the regular season. They have gone 7-2 in the playoffs thus far, losing just one game in each of the series to the Yankees and Astros. The Dodgers had a tougher go of things in the playoffs after winning 92 games in the regular season. They beat the Braves 3-1 in their opening round series, but had to go to game 7 against the Brewers to continue playing.
On paper, the Boston Red Sox are just a better team. Their offense was better in 2018. And their pitching was better in 2018. But in both cases, the difference was small. And some of that offensive difference gets erased when they have to play on the road in the World Series and lose the designated hitter, while the Dodgers get the benefit of using one in Boston.
Looking at the offenses, the Red Sox have the studs. Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are clearly the two best hitters in the World Series. It’s not particularly close. But, the Dodgers lineup top-to-bottom, is strong and has no weaknesses. The Red Sox have several quality hitters behind Betts and Martinez, but the depth isn’t the same as what the Dodgers are bringing to the table.
Game one may feature the best World Series starting pitching match up in the history of the game. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound with the best ERA+ in the history of baseball among pitchers with at least 1400 innings. He’s matched up against Chris Sale, who finds himself at #9 on that same list. During 2018, Sale was the better of the two pitchers. Advantage Red Sox.
But beyond that specific match up, the Dodgers probably hold the edge among the starters, though it’s probably not a big one. The question is, will the starting pitching matter all that much? We’ve seen all postseason that at the first sign of struggles, managers are going to their bullpen. And when that didn’t happen, it bit the team. That may put a lot of emphasis on the bullpens for each team. Much like the starting pitching, it’s close, but I believe the slight edge might actually go to the Dodgers here.
These two teams are matched up, on paper, pretty evenly. But I am going to go with the home field advantage and star power at the top and take the Boston Red Sox. They have the best pitcher in Chris Sale. They’ve got the two best hitters with Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. And they have the home field advantage. In a close match up on paper, those things make the difference in my book. Anything can happen in a best-of-seven series, so you never know. But for me, the Red Sox should be favored here, even if it’s close.