The boys in blue are back in the World Series for the third time in four years, with hopes of winning a title for the first time since 1988. They’ll have to go through the Tampa Bay Rays to do it.
Between Los Angeles and Tampa Bay, these two cities have already won a major league championship this fall. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals just over a week ago, and the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup Final at the end of September.
So, the question becomes, which city will reign supreme? Will it be LA with their star-studded Dodgers team that has been looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport for the last three decades? Or will it be Tampa who hosts a Rays team that changed the game with their “opener” strategy and have used timely-hitting and their strong pitching depth to get to this point? Let’s dive in deeper.
Keys for each team:
Dodgers: The strength of this team is their offense from top-to-bottom. They have so much firepower, and it’s quite possibly the best lineup the historic franchise has ever constructed. Therefore, the key to this series for the Dodgers lies within their pitching staff.
The issue they could run into is that they only trust two starters to go deep in ball games, those being Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Each has pitched well up to this point in the postseason, but if the Dodgers are going to win this series they are going to need the bullpen to continue to pitch well in crucial games.
LA has used the Rays’ “opener” strategy pretty well this postseason, having flame-throwing right-hander Dustin May open a few times. The Dodgers bullpen has quietly been dominating this fall, but we all know the struggles they have had in the past, particularly in the 2017 and 2018 World Series. If the Dodgers win this year, Dave Roberts will have to successfully figure out the correct way to use his bullpen.
Rays: The Rays have reached the Fall Classic in large part because of their starting pitching, and their even better bullpen. Defense has also helped a ton and the emergence of rookie phenom Randy Arozarena has carried the Rays offense. It’s no secret that the offense has struggled as a whole, though, hitting .209 throughout the playoffs.
Nevertheless, the long-ball bailed them out as they have hit 25 home runs in 14 postseason games. Even still, their key in this series will be run support. The Rays are a team that has power bats all throughout their lineup, but with that power comes a ton of swing-and-misses.
Manager Kevin Cash has been able to get this far by using the “revolving door” with his lineups. If the Rays win their first-ever World Series, Arozarena has to continue to be the bulk of the offense or other bats have to step up.
Prediction: This has to be the year for the Dodgers, right?
This team is the most talented in baseball, and it’s not particularly close. They have two former MVPs in Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, but it’s more than that. The Dodgers have the most potent offense in the game with a lineup that doesn’t have a weakness from any spot in the lineup. The only question is will the bullpen be able to hold up.
Fortunately for them, they will have an extra day off after Games 2 and 5. This can help the Rays a lot too, considering they should have the better pitching in this series. But, it’s just too hard to see the Rays offense acquiring more momentum at this point. And I’ll be surprised if Arozarena can continue to carry this team.
The Dodgers will finally get it done. Los Angeles wins in six games.