WORLD SERIES PREVIEW

Breaking down the Astros and Dodgers in the World Series

Breaking down the Astros and Dodgers in the World Series
Dallas Keuchel will start Game 1. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers will start the World Series on Tuesday night. There are numerous angles to look at in preparation for this series, including the fact that these teams are a lot alike.

First, let's take a look at the World Series schedule:

 Date LocationProbable Pitchers
Game 1          Tues., Oct 24             Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles                        Keuchel v. Kershaw                          
Game 2Wed., Oct 25Dodger Stadium, Los AngelesVerlander v. TBD
Game 3Fri., Oct 27Minute Maid Park, HoustonTBD
Game 4Sat., Oct 28Minute Maid Park, HoustonTBD
Game 5*Sun., Oct 29Minute Maid Park, HoustonTBD
Game 6*Tue., Oct 31Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles    TBD
Game 7*Wed., Nov 1

 

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

TBD

* - If Necessary
All Games Start at 7PM Central on FOX

Now, let's break down how these teams match up:

Playoff Performance: The Dodgers are 7-1 in the playoffs to this point after a sweep of the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and a 4-1 series win over the defending champion Cubs in the NLCS. The Astros are 7-4 after a 3-1 win in the ALDS over the Red Sox and a 4-3 win in the ALCS over the Yankees. A case can be made for either team in this regard; a team that's had easy wins to this point could get trapped while a team that's only been good enough to scathe by could become the next team in line to get dominated.

Starting Rotation: The Dodgers have arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball in Clayton Kershaw and picked up Yu Darvish from the Rangers in a trade this year to further boost their rotation. Past those two, the Dodgers have Rich Hill who has been decent in the playoffs and Alex Wood who had a terrific regular season. The Astros have Dallas Keuchel who despite his last start has looked to be back in Cy Young form, and Justin Verlander who has been near perfect in an Astros uniform. The Astros also have Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers who combined for a shutout win over the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS and may find themselves in the 3 and 4 spots in the World Series rotation.

Offense: After three bad games in New York, the Astros' offense was able to bounce back and show that they are still one of the best offenses in baseball. Jose Altuve leads the way, hitting .400 in the playoffs with five home runs and eight RBIs. Past Altuve, the Astros have the hot bats of Yuli Gurriel, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa who have combined for 18 RBIs in the postseason. The Dodgers offense, while maybe not as potent as the Astros, is still strong. The Dodgers have averaged six runs per game in the playoffs highlighted with their most recent game, an 11-1 rout of the Cubs in Chicago where Enrique Hernandez hit three homers. Justin Turner leads the Dodgers in postseason RBIs with twelve.

Bullpen: Kenley Jansen, the closer for the Dodgers, has been one of the best relievers in the league all year including the playoffs where he has appeared seven times and has thrown twelve strikeouts and given up just two hits. For the Astros, their bullpen has had their woes in the playoffs. Usual pillars like Chris Devenski and Joe Musgrove have combined to allow seven runs in five and two-thirds innings in the playoffs. Ken Giles has not looked as strong in the playoffs to this point as he did in the regular season where he was capable of coming in and getting three strikeouts in the ninth day after day.

With a matchup as good as this one, it means home field advantage is that much more important. The Astros will need to steal one of the first two in Los Angeles in hopes they can continue their dominance at home to get a dominating lead in the series and get their first championship. The Dodgers will likewise hope to get past Keuchel and Verlander with 1-2 wins and try to steal some games in Houston to put them in good shape too.

This will definitely be a fun series to watch. I see very little chance this ends up being a repeat of the 2005 World Series where the Astros were swept in four games because of these teams matching up so well. I could easily see this going seven games, and although I would consider the Dodgers the favorites, I would not be surprised at all to watch the Astros bring Houston a championship to cap off what has already been an amazing, memorable year.

Win or lose, this season has been historic. This team has put a city on their backs and they deserve to be in the national spotlight. Four more wins will make them legends. 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM

Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

Amazon | Apple | iHeart | Spotify

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome