WORLD SERIES PREVIEW

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. 

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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