World Series Preview

Joe Clark, Sports Editor

With the 104 win LA Dodgers and the 101 win Houston Astros facing off in the World Series, it will be the first time since 1970 and just third time total that two 100 win teams play each other in the Fall Classic. With the Dodgers taking Game 1 last night in a fantastic game, this looks like one of the best World Series’ we’ll ever see. Below, we take a look at the two teams, how they got here, players to watch in the series, and my prediction.

The Dodgers came into this season off the back of three straight years where they made the playoffs but saw their season end in either the NLDS or NLCS. This year, they played at an unbelievably high level all year behind the usual suspects in Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen, and Justin Turner, but also some new faces or guys who took major steps forward, like rookie sensation Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, and Alex Wood. En route to an MLB best 104 wins, the Dodgers made some big moves at the deadline, going out and acquiring Yu Darvish, Tony Cingrani, and Tony Watson. They also picked up Curtis Granderson before the August trade deadline. This is a team with depth at every single spot on their roster, which has been key for keeping players fresh for the postseason. They’re one of the most prolific team’s baseball has seen in years, and they’re a fun team to watch, too. Having the Dodgers in the World Series automatically makes it one to watch.

The Astros came into this year after a down season last year, where they missed the playoffs after making them and almost beating the eventual World Series champion in the Kansas City Royals in the process. The Astros are a team built on offense and do they ever have it and have it in spades. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Marwin Gonzalez form a devastating middle of the lineup, and that’s without even mentioning George Springer, Josh Reddick, or Yuli Gurriel. The problem for the Astros was pitching. While they mashed their way to wins, they weren’t getting the contributions from their staff they were looking for. So, they went out and got Justin Verlander. Verlander had become expendable with the Tigers all but destined for a rebuild, and the Astros gave up a pretty decent prospect haul with Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, and Jake Rogers all heading to Detroit for Verlander. Verlander had enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular season with the Tigers, but once arriving in Houston he turned it on, going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts in five starts with the Astros, and believe it or not, he’s been even better this postseason. The Astros also enjoyed solid seasons from former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock, and those three along with Charlie Morton make up a pretty solid playoff rotation. The weakness for Houston, though, is their bullpen. Outside of Ken Giles, Chris Devenski, and Will Harris (the former two have struggled a little this postseason), the ‘Stros don’t have a lot of depth to come in, leading to Houston needing to rely on their starters to pitch into the 6th or 7th inning every game. Still, Giles is a talented closer, Devenski was an All-Star this year, and Smith was one last year, so if those guys get back on track, the Astros have a formidable 7-8-9 punch, and Francisco Liriano could also be a weapon out of the bullpen. Houston is a talented team, and while they made not be as talented as the Dodgers, if the bats get hot and the staff can slow down the Dodger offense, look out for this team.

The Dodgers got here by sweeping the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and then beating the Cubs in five in an NLCS series that many thought would be closer. Meanwhile, the Astros beat the Red Sox in four games and the Yankees in an exhilarating seven-game series that was the best of the postseason so far. For the Dodgers, look out for Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, and Kenley Jansen to make a big impact on the series. For the Astros, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Marwin Gonzalez are all some of the best hitters in baseball, and also look for Yuli Gurriel to be an X-Factor for Houston.

Prediction: As much as I want this Houston team to win with everything the city of Houston has gone through with Hurricane Harvey, the Dodgers are just too talented. I have no doubt that the Astros will make this a series, and I hope I’m wrong with this prediction, but I think the Dodgers will win in 6.