The 117th World Series will be an epic battle between two very differently-built teams with only a couple things in common: they each were the best teams in their leagues during the 60-game season. Each team also had to overcome a marginal game seven battle in their league championship series.
The American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays will be making only their second World Series appearance, looking to win the team’s first commissioner’s trophy. Meanwhile, the history-laden Los Angeles Dodgers will be making yet another fall classic appearance, their third in the last four seasons. They will be fighting for their sixth World Series Title in franchise history. Do not let the discrepancies in World Series experience fool you. Looking at the two teams, the world of baseball should expect an entertaining chess match to conclude this historic season.
Each team brings a similar roster to the table in terms of age, with the Dodgers only slightly out aging the Rays. When it comes to overall experience and World Series exposure however, the Dodgers are ahead. The Rays are no strangers to being the less experienced playoff team. Both the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, whom the Rays knocked out in the previous rounds, were also teams with significantly more playoff experience.
Rays fifth year manager Kevin Cash consistently pushed the right buttons at the right time. He did this with the way he managed his impeccable set of starters and relievers, arguably the all-around best in the league. In return, the Rays made steller out after steller out in the field, when it looked like the team was in deep peril. While not especially known for any big names offensively, the team has been blessed this October with the best hitter in the baseball universe in outfielder Randy Arozarena, who is batting an impressive .382 with seven home runs. A supporting cast of smart and timely hitting from other hitters has been no problem for the Rays in their ability to outlast opponents filled with All Star playoff experience.
The Rays will have to overcome a similar star-studded kind of lineup in the Dodgers, another team with great pitching but also incredible power. All too familiar with coming oh-so-close in recent years, the Dodgers have been poised to win it all from the get-go.
They looked like the championship team everyone expected them to be all season as they finished with the best record in baseball. In the postseason, it has been a little more of a story of adversity, especially in the previous round against the Atlanta Braves. It seemed that the power hitting lineup could only take the team so far. They experienced several postseason pitching woes when the team fell behind twice in the National League Championship Series 2-games-0 and 3-games-1. Part of this had to do with the Braves being such a hot team to start the series. Part of this also had to do with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw being scratched from game two at the last minute due to back spasms, requiring the Dodgers to shake up their pitching cards. However, being on the brink of elimination in three consecutive games, the Dodgers did what true champions do in the playoffs, address their weakest areas while exploiting their strengths. The team’s biggest question mark, their bullpen, looked relatively unscathed by the late game nerves. They gave the Dodgers crucial late innings in games five, six, and seven. Their power hitting order came through with the longball when it mattered most, to overcome what had been a red hot young Braves team in the NLCS.
This year’s fall classic should truly be a classic. Both teams are so relentless that there are good reasons to bet on either team. What would be most surprising about this series is if one of the teams completely dominated. I would be shocked if this series did not go at least five games. Baseball fans should be in for a treat. I think the favored Dodgers and their experienced bats will outlast the sharp pitching of the Rays. They should not only get their strongest starting pitching performances yet this postseason, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will continue to use the bullpen effectively. Prediction: Dodgers in seven.
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