This article was written before the Red Sox and Yankees played on Friday, August 18th)
As anyone who has followed baseball in 2017 knows, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been far and away the most dominant team in the majors. The NL-West looked like a tight, three-team race that included the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Dodgers. But one team has risen to the top. The young and talented team out in LA has taken off like nothing in recent memory, going 19-9 in May, 21-7 in June, 20-3 in July, and 11-3 so far in August. This includes a 24-5 record in the second half of the season.
Loading the bench with talent
Then you have the Boston Red Sox, the young and gritty team, expected to play like the Dodgers. Getting swept by the Indians in the 2016 ALDS was certainly disappointing, but Dave Dombrowski wanted to make sure that the Red Sox did not lack a superstar after David Ortiz retired. He pulled off a blockbuster over the winter, acquiring ace Chris Sale in exchange for four prospects including prized Cuban slugger Yoan Moncada. After the trade, even Yankees GM Brian Cashman referred to the Red Sox as the “Golden State Warriors.”
Up until the trade deadline, the Red Sox were an up and down team that couldn’t quite find their identity. That was until the night of July 25th, when the Red Sox picked up Eduardo Nunez, a utility infielder from the San Francisco Giants. To add to the youth movement, the Red Sox called up third-baseman Rafael Devers, who played in AAA for less than a week. Red Sox Nation questioned those two moves, but these two new guys have led the Red Sox to an 11-2 record since the trade deadline. A bold move on the same day the Yankees traded for stud pitcher Sonny Gray from the Athletics. The Sox jumped into first place and haven’t looked back since. Many people believe the possibility of a potential Red Sox Dodgers World Series.
It would look something like this:
Game 1: Chris Sale (14-4, 2.51 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (15-2, 2.04 ERA)
As far as pitching matchups in the postseason go, this is the best that you’re going to see. Two aces squaring off against two magnificent lineups. Even with Kershaw on the DL list right now, you know he will be ready to bring it in the big dance. And Chris Sale, is well, Chris Sale. Sale may have the upper hand, as the Dodgers hit at similar clip vs Righties and Lefties, (.258 vs Lefties),(.257 vs Righties). The difference comes with the homeruns, the Dodgers have 116 homeruns vs righties this season with only 57 vs lefties.
The Red Sox bullpen also has an advantage, as their main pieces are all right-handed. The back end of the bullpen for the Red Sox and Dodgers are similar, both teams have dominant closers. Kenley Jansen is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA so far in 2017 with 32 saves in 50 games. Craig Kimbrel has a 1.41 ERA with 94 K’s in 51 IP.
Poor post-season record
Clayton Kershaw has a shaky postseason track record, giving up a clutch home run to Matt Adams in game four of the 2014 ALDS, or getting shelled by the Cubs in game six of the 2016 ALCS. However, he is the best pitcher on the planet in many people’s eyes, and even though he hasn’t proven to be a Madison Bumgarner type postseason pitcher, he still has nasty stuff that could fool any hitter on any given night.
Sale (of the century)
Chris Sale is as dominant of a regular season pitcher that you are going to watch, but being on the lackluster White Sox for his entire career before coming to Boston, he has never tasted the postseason. Whether he will show up is not a question. He will show up, and he will bring his nasty slider and lively fastball with him. The question — can he handle the pressure and adrenaline of the playoffs, especially the World Series?
All things considered, the Red Sox will likely walk away narrowly with a game-one win, setting the tone for the rest of the World Series.
Buckle up and grab some popcorn. It’s going to be a great one.
Game 1 Prediction: Red Sox defeat Dodgers, 3-2
Then again, it’s the postseason, anything can happen…right?