ASTROS vs. DODGERS
The 2017 World Series
205 regular season wins. Two teams that are undefeated at home in the postseason. Scary pitching. Scary offense. Everything a World Series should be.
Each of these teams will be the toughest test the other has had so far. Despite facing – and beating – the #4 and #5 pitching staffs in MLB this postseason, the Astros must now take down the #2 Dodgers staff (complete with a fucking lights-out bullpen) if they want a ring. On the other hand, the Dodgers have not faced an offense nearly as complete as the Astros; Arizona and Chicago were similar in some aspects but hardly as potent.
Plus, the Astros have had to get off the mat after being pushed to the brink in very demoralizing fashion. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have sleepwalked through the postseason, trailing in only eleven full postseason innings out of their eight games (seven innings of which came in their only loss, Game 4 of the NLCS).
And we’re all just living in it, I guess.
Team ERA: Houston 4.12 (11th), LA 3.38 (2nd)
Starter ERA: Houston 4.03 (6th), LA 3.39 (1st)
Bullpen ERA: Houston 4.27 (17th), LA 3.38 (4th)
Quality starts: Houston 67 (18th), LA 68 (T-16th)
K/9: Houston 9.91 (2nd), LA 9.65 (4th)
BAA: Houston .240 (6th), LA .228 (T-1st)
OPS against: Houston .720 (9th), LA .671 (1st)
Postseason team ERAs: Houston 3.79, LA 2.28
I was surprised to find that a pitching staff that has mowed down so many over the last few weeks gave up the second-most homers (14) in the postseason, behind only the Cubs. Although this plays into one of the Astros’ main offensive strengths, especially given that the Dodgers allowed three more bombs than the Astros in three fewer games, it cannot be avoided that this Dodgers staff is loaded. Five of the seven relievers on the LA roster remain unscathed in the run column. Darvish and Hill are both averaging better than 11 K/9, Kershaw is doing Kershaw things, and only Kershaw is averaging over 80 pitches per start.
Although not quite as successful on paper, the Astros have found a formidable postseason rotation in Keuchel, Verlander, and McCullers (and, when dealing like he did in Game 7, Morton). With guys like McHugh, Giles, and hell, even Gregerson rested and ready, Houston can hold up well in the late innings. However, if postseason-to-date gas cans like Devenski and Musgrove find their way to the mound, may we live in interesting times.
Runs scored: Houston 896 (1st), LA 770 (12th)
Home runs: Houston 238 (2nd), LA 221 (11th)
Extra-base hits: Houston 604 (1st), LA 553 (6th)
Batting average: Houston .282 (1st), LA .249 (22nd)\
OBP: Houston .346 (1st), LA .334 (T-6th)
Strikeouts: Houston 1,087 (1st), LA 1,380 (18th)
Stolen bases: Houston 98 in 140 tries (70%; 23rd), LA 77 in 105 tries (73.33%; 12th)
GIDP: Houston 139 (T-24th), LA 119 (T-10th)
Postseason slash line: Houston ..247/.324/.407, LA .273/.378/.494
As a whole, the Dodgers have out-Astro’d the Astros in the offensive department this postseason. The ALCS did a number on Houston’s offensive numbers, both collectively as well as with a few individuals. They picked a bad time to hit a slump, but they also picked a good time to start digging out of it, and the late-ALCS ABs by the likes of Gattis and McCann, who were previously ice cold for the series, can only be encouraging. The Astros need to get better production from a lot of different guys, though, starting with Springer and whichever of Reddick or Bregman is filling the #2 slot on any given night.
The Dodgers benefited from an outstanding year by Justin Turner who set a career high in OPS (.945) and WAR (6.1) and a career low in strikeouts (56) for a full season. Six LA hitters, including Turner, bashed over 20 home runs this year, with Cody Bellinger leading the way with 39. However, they also had six hitters with 100+ strikeouts; the Astros only had two, and one of them (Beltran) is not likely to get many ABs in the series, at least in LA.
In the postseason the Dodgers have averaged six runs per game while allowing just over two runs per game. The Astros clock in at four and just under four, respectively.
We’ve seen the Astros defense play up to its potential and make some huge plays this postseason, whether it’s this one or that one or the other one or oh by the way this one. These are the kinds of things that don’t look sexy in the box score but have a very tangible effect on games.
Not having watched the Dodgers much, I can’t comment much on their defense. I can say that they committed 88 errors in the regular season for a 12th-best .985 fielding percentage, and the defensive metrics loooooooove the Dodgers, to a tune of a cumulative 62.1 defensive runs above average vs. -46.9 for the Astros.
Los Angeles – Corey Seager worked out on Sunday and Monday and will be on the World Series roster after missing the NLCS. At the time of this writing the Dodgers had not yet announced a corresponding roster move.
Houston – At the time of this writing, Jake Marisnick’s status for the Fall Classic is uncertain.
No matter how you slice it, this series is an excellent matchup with a number of potential outcomes. The Dodgers have gone through the postseason the way a pit bull might chomp on a chihuahua, shake it a couple of times, and toss it aside like a rag doll. The AL side of the bracket is littered with highly-touted pitchers – Sale, Pomeranz, Kimbrel, Robertson, Green, Chapman – that the Astros got huge hits off of to keep on moving. Unstoppable force, immovable object, etc.
Should be an exciting (read: stressful) series. May we all be graced by Lasorda’s inverted ass, symbolically or otherwise.
WORLD SERIES GAME 1
Tuesday, October 2014, 7:09pm CDT – Dodger Stadium
Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 2.60) vs. Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.63)
Keuchel’s ALCS Game 5 is the only blemish on his stellar postseason, and he still struck out eight Yankees in that shitfest of a game. He has never faced the Dodgers in his career.
Kershaw turned in another fantastic 2017 season, leading the NL in wins (18) and ERA (2.31), leading MLB in fewest walks allowed (30) among qualifying pitchers, and placing second only to Max Scherzer in WHIP. He closed the first half of his season with a sick 2.18 ERA, then notched it down to 2.04 before a lower back strain sidelined him for the entire month of August. He was slightly more hittable in September, with his ERA for that month a whopping 3.48.
Oddly, Kershaw has given up six home runs this postseason, four of which were to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, and five of which were of the solo variety. He has had the luxury of not pitching in many high leverage situations this postseason. The Dodger bats staked him early, crooked leads in the NLDS and in Game 5 of the NLCS. Only in Game 1 of the NLCS did he ever pitch when behind, and that lasted for an entire inning before the Dodgers tied it and pulled away.
Kershaw racked up a number of starts against the Astros while they were in the National League, and his only recent work against them is a 2015 start in which he went eight innings and allowed only one run while striking out ten. The Astros won that game. Bitch.
Select pitcher/batter matchups:
Forsythe vs. Keuchel: 20 AB, .350/.350/.450
Gutierrez vs. Keuchel: 15 AB, .067/.067/.067
Altuve vs. Kershaw: 15 AB, .400/.400/.667
Gattis vs. Kershaw: 7 AB, .286/.286/.429
Beltran vs. Kershaw: 22 AB, .227/.280/.318
Maybin vs. Kershaw: 30 AB, .133/.212/.133