The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers begin the fall classic tonight. As Friars on Base staff, we take a look at what we’re watching for in the series.
Two of the most talented clubs in recent memory are set to battle it out for a world championship. The Dodgers, winners of 104 games, host the first two games in what is expected to be the warmest beginning to a World Series in history.
The Astros won three fewer games and come in as an underdog according to most, but
Here’s our breakdown of what we’re watching for in the series as Padres fans.
Lost in the excitement of a thrilling seven game victory in the American League Championship Series was just how deep Houston had to dig in order to complete the comeback and pull it out. Playing two more games than the Dodgers can make a major difference, especially with a taxed bullpen which was already said to be inferior to that of Los Angeles. The good news? The Astros’ resiliency was on display in the ALCS, holding it together and coming back from a 3-2 deficit after taking the first two games.
The bottom line is, the Dodgers are 7-1 this postseason, and have outscored their opponents 48-19. Against a powerful Cubs lineup, they surrendered just eight runs over five games. The pitching staff and lineup of Los Angeles have been unbelievably dominant, making it very tough for anyone to justify picking against them.
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One intriguing aspect of this fall classic for Friar fans is the fact that the managers of both pennant winners this year, Dave Roberts for the Dodgers and A.J. Hinch for the Astros, once wore Padre uniforms. Several other Dodgers have ties to San Diego, including catcher Yasmani Grandal, infielder Logan Forsythe, and reliever Brandon Morrow. So as much as Padres fans may instinctively want to pull for Houston, they’ll need to root against some former friendly faces in order to do so.
Keys to the series
As is the case in any postseason series, pitching depth is critical. The Dodgers have an edge in this category given their deeper and more well rested bullpen. But the series will also be decided by which Houston lineup shows up. This young team is powerful, but have gone silent at times. The first two games in Los Angeles will set the tone for the entire series. Look for the Astros to score early in these games to see if the lineup is a worthy competitor for the outstanding Dodger rotation.
As stated, it isn’t easy to justify a pick against the Dodgers. But when the Astros are playing them, it becomes feasible. Many are predicting a six or seven game series with a Dodger win, pointing to the depth of the pitching staff, and how the Dodgers are more well rested. What is often neglected though is how battle tested Houston is, winning the final two games against the Yankees to get to this point. The Dodgers really haven’t faced any adversity yet, making us wonder how they’ll react against an almost equally dominant Astros club. Houston hasn’t yet lost at home, and they have always come through in the biggest moments of games. If they take one of the first two, they have a major advantage. They will, and then take two of three at home before finishing it off in dramatic fashion in enemy territory. Astros in six.