2017 World Series Preview + Predictions
It is the best time of the year, the leaves are changing colors, the air is getting crisp, and the World Series begins tonight. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be facing the Houston Astros to find out who the best team in baseball really is. Both teams had incredible regular seasons, and it is the first time since 1970 that two teams that won over 100 games will face off in the World Series. The two have had unique paths to reach the World Series, and I think this will be a great series.
The Houston Astros had an incredible regular season. The team went 101-61, and was the best team in the American League until the Cleveland Indians went on a tear to end the season. They won a lot of games on the back of their incredible offense, the team would hit a combined .282, with an OBP of .346. The Astros led the MLB in most offensive categories, whereas the Dodgers were in the middle of the pack offensively. The Astros pitching staff was also pretty impressive. Outside of recently acquired Justin Verlander, the Astros were led by their ace Dallas Keuchel, who went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA, and the starting pitching combined to have a very solid year outside of Mike Fiers. The team acquired Justin Verlander, who has been absolutely incredible in Houston. He just won the ALCS MVP after throwing a CG in game two while striking out 13, and in game six, he threw seven innings while striking out eight, and he looked absolutely incredible doing it. I think that as long as Justin Verlander stays hot, he will help guide the Astros to the title. Since his trade, he is 9-0 with a 1.23 ERA in nine games. In the postseason, Jose Altuve has been the star of the offense, and if he can stay hot, and the rest of the offense can build on the momentum it gained in game six and seven of the ALCS, then the Dodgers pitching staff will have their work cut out for them.
The Los Angeles Dodgers also had an incredible regular season, and were on pace to have the best record of all time before a slide in late August and early September. The Dodgers rode their stellar pitching staff and timely hitting to a division title in a very competitive NL West. Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood were both incredible during the regular season, going a combined 34-7, and the rest of their pitching staff was much more mediocre. The team had a combined ERA of 3.38, which was better than the Astros combined ERA of 4.12. The Dodgers hitting was not as good as the Astros though, as they hit .249 with an OBP of .334, but they got hits when they needed it most. Justin Turner was incredible all season, and in the playoffs has come up with clutch hit after clutch hit. The problems I have with the Dodgers is that I still do not trust them in the playoffs, I still think Clayton Kershaw is unreliable when it comes to October, he still has a career playoff ERA of 4.40, and his ERA is worse in the NLCS than in the NLDS by nearly 60 points, which may be a coincidence, but I think that it means in the World Series he will do worse, and no, I’m not pointing all this out because I dislike the Dodgers as a Giants fan. I genuinely like Clayton Kershaw except when he's pitching against the Giants, and it sucks to see him struggle in the postseason, but traditionally as the games get more meaningful and deeper into October, he gets worse. It can be a combination of a lot of innings on his arm or just the pressure getting to him, but I think he will struggle against a very well rounded Astros lineup.
I think that the Astros will win the World Series in six games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think that the Astros will be able to win at least one game in Los Angeles, partially because their game two starter is Justin Verlander, but also because I do not think that Dodger stadium can get as raucous and rowdy as Yankee Stadium did, which clearly affected the way the Astros played. I think that the Astros have the advantage because they are hungrier, they have never won a World Series in franchise history, and have been rebuilding for years, whereas the Dodgers have had recent success (in terms of division titles). I think that the Astros offense is good enough to beat up on all the Dodgers starters, with the exception of Clayton Kershaw, but if he struggles then I think the Astros take the series easily. I think the that Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander both are good enough to shut down the Dodgers twice each, and if Lance McCullers pitches like he did in game seven of the ALCS, then he will be a factor as well. The Dodgers do have a significantly better bullpen than the Astros, but the Astros offense is good enough to put runs on the Dodgers’ starters early in games. Yu Darvish is being labeled as an X-Factor for the Dodgers in this series, because it looks like he is throwing wiffle balls right now with how good his stuff looks, but the problem is that he used to be an American League Starter and the Astros have seen him many times, and in the last three years he is 1-2 against the Astros and has allowed 10 runs in 28 innings. The Astros are just more well rounded than the Dodgers and have the hotter starting pitcher, which will lead them to their first World Series Championship.
I think the Houston Astros will win the 2017 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.