Believe it or not, it’s time for the Fall Classic. It’s really amazing that Major League Baseball has made it this far, considering how bleak things looked during the first few weeks of the shortened season. But here we are. Tampa Bay Rays vs the Los Angeles Dodgers. Upstart vs the Anointed.
Their regular season W-L records are close enough. The Dodgers had the best record in baseball, followed by the Rays.
There isn’t much head-to-head history between the two teams. Seventeen games isn’t exactly a thesis shattering sample size.
There is, however, a pretty significant disparity when it comes to post-season experience. If you believe that teams have a certain institutional memory — Yankees’ Mystique and Aura”; the Red Sox and Cubbies’ now defunct curses — then this matters.
On one hand, the Rays have played 9 post-season series, amassing a record of 9W-4L. Their sole World Series appearance came in 2008 when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
On the other hand, the Dodgers have played in 51 post-season series with a 20W-31L record (39.2). In the World Series, they have a 6W-14L (.300) record. (NOTE: This doesn’t include this season’s playoffs.) The last time LA won the WS was in 1988 during the “California Classic.” They rode Orel Hersheiser’s arm all the way to a 4-1 series win over the Bash Brothers Oakland A’s.
Dodgers hitters have performed much better than their opponents’. They had the second highest OPS on grass (.820) during the regular season. The Rays placed 13th out of 30 teams with an OPS of .765.
In terms of pitching, Los Angeles’ pitching has also performed better, especially on grass. In fact, they lead the majors in ERA and WHIP, 3.04 and 1.04 respectively. Overall, the Dodgers hold the edge here as well – at least on paper.
Pitching wins championships, or so the saying goes. The Rays are likely to use Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, and Charlie Morton with a possible opener thrown in the mix or Glasnow on short rest if a dire situation calls for it. The Rays have been known to think outside of the box, especially when it comes to pitching. Expect more of the same.
The Dodgers’ starting pitching will be led by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. Look for rookie Tony Gonsolin and Game 7 super-reliever Julio Urias to play significant parts, though their exact roles remain to be seen. Manager Dave Roberts has moved anyone not named Kershaw or Buehler around during the post-season.
Los Angeles Dodgers Mookie Betts
The Big Question
Dodgers – Which Kershaw will show up?
Unfortunately, history isn’t on the Dodgers ace’s side here. His numbers disappoint in just about every category when comparing regular season performances to post-season. Needless to say, the Dodgers will need him to be as close to regular-season-Kershaw as possible.
Blake Snell has struggled to get past the 5th inning lately. It hasn’t been disastrous because the Rays have the best bullpen in the game at the moment. They’ve been the true stars of the Rays’ pitching, steadying the ship after starters were pulled early. Problem is, they’re human and sooner or later will begin to show little wear and tear. A quality outing by Snell would help alleviate the pressure on the pen, increasing the team’s competitiveness in the process. That said, his regular season vs post-season numbers aren’t exactly glorious.
The Line: Rays +140, Dodgers -165.
These moneyline odds and an expert consensus picks for the remainder of the World Series, can be found in this MLB betting section. In addition to that you can find ROI betting against, best teams to best against which are key stats to know come game day.
Talk to us after Game 1.