For the first time since 2013, the two best teams in each league will play in the World Series and according to Vegas, it’s David vs. Goliath.
The mighty Los Angeles Dodgers, with pockets deeper than the ocean, talent filling every position on the roster and hungry to avenge the playoff failures of the last 30 years are heavily favored to capture the franchise’s first championship since 1988. On the other side from the American League comes the small market Tampa Bay Rays, whom have made up their squad with the 28th lowest payroll in baseball looking for the first ever franchise championship.
The Dodgers, through home grown talent with a couple big money acquisitions have reached the World Series for the third time in the last 4 years, looking to finally finish the job. The Rays by contrast have built their team up through other team’s cast offs and money managing that has brought the team back to the World Series for the first time since 2008. So how do these two nearly opposite teams stack up in this year’s edition of the Fall Classic? Although oddsmakers have LA as the overwhelming favorite to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy, this series is a lot closer than others think.
You know the Dodgers lineup is lethal when the defending NL MVP Cody Bellinger is hitting sixth. And he’s not the only MVP in the lineup. Mookie Betts headlines a stacked lineup filled to the top with talent with a rock steady Justin Turner, NLCS MVP Corey Seager and the big power in both Max Muncy and Joc Pederson. An emerging bat of Will Smith, consistent contact hitter in Chris Taylor and a resurgent AJ Pollock fill out the NL’s best starting nine.
The Rays lineup isn’t as intimidating, but it has done the job. Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe haven’t been impressive in the playoffs but the emergence of rookie phenom Randy Arozarena mashing a rookie record seven postseason homers has provided the Rays their runs. Manuel Margot has finally found his swing with a team leading 11 RBI’s and the sound bats of Ji-Man Choi, Mike Brosseau and Joey Wendle have been the Rays reliance on offense. Clearly, the Dodgers have the edge at the plate but the Rays defense and pitching might just be able to fill that gap.
The Rays defense has been on display all season and has only played an even bigger role in the playoffs. In 14 playoff games, the Tampa Bay has made just four errors and have defensive standouts in the outfield with the developing glove of Margot and defensive wizard Kevin Kiermaier as well as the exciting Willy Adames at short. But on a lot of nights, the pitching is good enough that the defense isn’t even a deciding factor. The Rays big three of starters consists of the blazing fastball and devastating breaking ball of Tyler Glasnow. Behind him is former Cy Young Blake Snell and 2017 World Series champion, veteran Charlie Morton. The Rays bullpen is stacked with unheralded names plucked from other teams such as 2020 breakouts John Curtiss, Aaron Loup, Ryan Thompson and Peter Fairbanks as well as returners from last year’s playoff run in fireballing Diego Castillo, swiss-army knife Ryan Yarbrough and lockdown closer Nick Anderson.
But the problem is the Dodgers nearly match Tampa’s pitching prowess. A dominating duo of starters in Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. They are backed up by an extremely deep bullpen featuring veterans Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen, young and electric Brusdar Graterol, a shutdown Julio Urias, a consistent Pedro Baez and everyone’s hero Joe Kelly. Bellinger and Betts have been outstanding with the glove this postseason and their highlight reel plays in the outfield nearly match that of Tampa’s.
Overall, this is going to be a very interesting series with Tampa having a slight edge on the mound and in the field but L.A being the better team with the sticks. I expect the Rays to come out fast in the series and take Game 1 behind a lights out performance from Glasnow and timely hitting from Arozarena and Margot off a notoriously bad playoff Kershaw.
But the Dodgers will get right back in the series as the bats of Betts and Turner lead to a win in game 2 off of Blake Snell and is followed by a dominating performance by Walker Buehler in Game 3. The Rays will even up the series in a Game 4 bullpen game as they outlast LA’s bats in a high scoring affair. Unfortunately for Tampa, Game 4 could be their last win of the season. In game 5, Clayton Kershaw finally erases his playoff image and shuts down the lefty heavy Rays bats in a double digit strikeout performance to put the Dodgers one win away from a championship.
After a morale draining loss, the Rays get their hits on Dustin May or Walker Buehler on short rest but the Dodgers bats overwhelm Snell again as the bullpen slams the door and the Dodgers win their fist championship since 1988.
Game by Game:
- Game 1: TB over LA 4-1
- Game 2: LA over TB 6-4
- Game 3: LA over TB 7-0
- Game 4: TB over LA 9-6
- Game 5: LA over TB 5-1
- Game 6: LA over TB 8-5
Final Prediction: Dodgers over Rays 4-2
World Series MVP: Mookie Betts