As expected, the 2017 MLB postseason has been anything but ordinary. Although many baseball experts correctly picked the World Series matchup, only a small percent were able to predict how the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to clinch their respective World Series berths. Things began to get funky when the Cleveland Indians choked in the postseason for the second year in a row, this time in the Divisional Series against the New York Yankees. Then, New York squared off against Houston in another very odd series where the road team didn’t win a single game for the only the fifth time in baseball history. The Astros were able to prevail in a thrilling Game 7, ultimately reaching the World Series for the first time since 2005.
Meanwhile in the NL, not a single team had a chance at defeating the red-hot Dodgers as they only lost one game in both series combined. Los Angeles obliterated the Arizona Diamondbacks and then took care of the defending champion Cubs in the NLCS, allowing them to coast into the World Series with ease. We know that whatever the outcome of the World Series is, it will be historic. The Astros have never won a World Series before, while the Dodgers, one of baseball’s most most popular and storied franchises, have not made a World Series appearance since 1988. Both teams are over due for a World Series title signifying that this will be a hard-fought, intense championship battle.
At the beginning of the MLB Postseason I made a prediction that had the Dodgers out of the playoffs after the NLDS. The Los Angeles Dodgers had an ugly month of September, going 12-17 including an 11-game losing streak. With the Diamondbacks heating up and Los Angeles playing like shells of themselves, it would not have been surprising at all to see Arizona pull the upset. But then again, we are talking about the 104 win Dodgers. It only took Los Angeles one win to turn things around and the rest was history. The inexperienced Diamondbacks got embarrassed, then the Dodgers silenced the Chicago Cubs bats and beat up their bullpen in the process. Now, they are standing four games away from hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy over their heads and are not planning for the Astros to get in the way of that achievement.
The main concern for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS was the health of their star shortstop, Corey Seager, who was not included on their 25-man roster due to a back injury. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he is “very confident” that he will make a return for Game 1 of the World Series. With a batting average of .295 and a great glove at the shortstop position, Seager will be a key x-factor for the Dodgers in this series. Other players that you will need to keep an eye on are Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez. Turner batted .389 in the LCS with a clutch, game-winning home run in Game 2 against the Cubs. Hernandez, meanwhile, hit .444 with three home runs, all of which came in the same game.
Pitching has been the Los Angeles Dodgers’ strongest weapon this postseason. Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, and Rich Hill have not lost a game this postseason, while the Dodgers’ bullpen has been so dominant that you can nearly guarantee LA will win if they have the lead when Roberts goes to his pen. For example, the Dodgers bullpen didn’t allow a single run against the Cubs in the NLCS, an extremely tough task to accomplish considering the Cubs’ lineup. One other important thing to note is that Rich Hill and Yu Darvish spent a lot of time in the AL West and have faced off against some of these Astros batters multiple times. Experience is one of the best things a player can have in the Word Series and Hill and Darvish will have plenty of it.
As you can tell, the Dodgers are meant to be here, but so are the Astros. Houston has the talent to counter attack the Dodgers’ superstar-studded lineup. But will it be enough?
Following the unfortunate tragedy of Hurricane Harvey the Houston community has rallied around their baseball team, and the Astros have done everything they can to fight for their city. The Astros had a much different path to the World Series than that of the Dodgers. After winning the ALDS against The Boston Red Sox in four games, Houston went perfect at home, but couldn’t manage to win a game on the road in New York resulting in a 1-4 road record in the postseason. Without home field advantage, the Astros will need to at least win one game in Los Angeles and be perfect at home in order to win the World Series. Although they may be the underdogs coming into the championship, there is no doubt that they have the talent to beat the Dodgers.
If you haven’t already heard, the Houston Astros have a 5’6’’, 165-pound second basemen who is blazing fast, has a fantastic glove in the in field, can hit long home runs, and oh yeah, will likely be this year’s unanimous MVP. He, of course, is none other than Jose Altuve. In the regular season, Altuve had a .346 batting average and has continued his dominance, hitting .400 in the postseason. As long as Altuve keeps clicking, the Astros will continue to keep every game close and will win a few while they are at it. Houston’s secret weapon in the playoffs thus far has been Yuli Gurriel, who stayed under the radar for the majority of the season and has now made a considerable impact in the Astros’ lineup. If Houston’s lineup has a rough night at the plate, they will lean towards their strong pitching staff to back them up.
The Astros late addition of Justin Verlander was one of the smartest moves the franchise has made in the team’s 55 year history. Verlander has been simply dominant in the playoffs. He is now (4-0) thus far in the postseason with a 1.46 ERA. Houston’s bullpen has been good as well, but is mediocre when compared to the Dodgers pen. In order to increase their chances of victory, their starting pitchers need to get them through the majority of the game and leave the final few innings to the bullpen. The Astros will be defeated if they take their starting pitcher out early in a game already facing a deficit.
My biggest concern regarding the Houston Astros is their inexperience. Some of these players have not been in the majors for more than five years, and the vast majority of them have no prior World Series experience. This could be an achilles heel for Houston as they look to take down a team that seems to make the playoffs every year.
Out of the entire MLB, these are the two teams that deserved to make the World Series the most. Both teams possess an array of talent, making it tough to predict the winner of the World Series. I am expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the first two games of the World Series at home, then will win game four of the World Series in Houston taking a 3-1 advantage. The Astros will take Game 5, but won’t be able to keep themselves alive when they travel back to Chavez Ravine, where the Dodgers will win the World Series for the first time since 1988 in front of their home crowd at Dodgers Stadium.
World Series Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers