- The Red Sox ousted the defending champion Astros in five game
- The Dodgers trailed the Brewers twice in the series, rallied, and are back in the World Series
- Game 1 gets underway Tuesday night at 8:09 p.m. at Fenway Park
After 162 games, it all comes down to this: The Dodgers and the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.
The Red Sox enter as the favorites, and rightfully so. A blistering, high-ceiling offense led them to an MLB-best 108 wins. That offense also drove in an MLB-high 876 runs, giving them the second-best run differential at +229.
The Dodgers did it differently. They allowed a league-low 610 runs against. Their starting staff, that features plenty high quality veterans, also features the best pitcher in the game.
And he’ll get the ball to kick off the series.
Dodgers vs Red Sox World Series Game 1 Odds
|DODGERS +1.5 (-160)||DODGERS +130||O 7.5 (EVEN)|
|RED SOX -1.5 (+140)||RED SOX -150||U 7.5 (-120)|
Kershaw, Sale to Duke it Out in Game 1 of World Series
It’s everything you could want to kick off the World Series. Ace vs ace. Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale.
While Kershaw’s 2018 wasn’t really up to his standards, keep in mind that those standards are absurdly high.
Clayton Kershaw just finished off an amazing feat.
Threw the first pitch of his team’s season as a starter and the last pitch of the game that sent them to the World Series as a reliever.
So who else has done that since division play began?
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 21, 2018
Kershaw finished the season with a 2.73 ERA. That was his worst mark since 2010. His WHIP was effected too and his K/9 dropped a bit, but he’s still one of the best.
Chris Sale meanwhile, was on another level. Even with a sluggish September, he finished 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA , 0.86 WHIP, and 237 strikeouts in 27 starts. He was nearly flawless.
When it comes to the playoffs though, both pitchers leave something to be desired.
Chris Sale vs Clayton Kershaw Statistical Comparison
*All stats are career playoff totals
Sale has not gone deep during Boston’s playoff run.
In the ALDS against the Yankees he lasted 5.1, striking out eight, but giving up two runs in the process. It got even shorter when he faced the Astros. He walked four in four innings, giving up two runs in his lone ALCS appearance.
Kershaw, meanwhile, has been better. While he tossed a clunker against the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS, he rebounded nicely in Game 5. He also turned in a pristine effort in the NLCS against the Braves.
He has the experience of last year’s World Series, where he was dominant in Game 1. It was a mixed bag after that, but he knows the stage.
Red Sox, Dodgers Offenses Followed Different Paths to World Series
After Mookie Betts’ monster regular season, you’d think the Sox would stumble with his playoff struggles.
Red Sox vs Dodgers Statistical Comparison
|+229||Reg. Run Differential||+194|
|+21||Postseason Run Differential||+11|
|.268||Reg. Season AVG||.250|
|208||Reg. Season HR||235|
|9||Post Season HR||13|
|.792||Reg. Season OPS||.774|
|3.72||Reg. Season Bullpen ERA||3.72|
|3.62||Postseason Bullpen ERA||1.30|
Despite Betts’ .346 regular season average has fallen to .205 in the postseason, but others have picked up the slack.
Rafael Devers is hitting .350. JD Martinez is hitting .313. And despite his .185 batting average, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slugging dramatic home runs.
The Sox have the second-highest team average in the playoffs, and have scored the most runs.
LA has played two more games than Boston, and has 13 fewer runs.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 21, 2018
The Dodgers have made it to the World Series on speed and patience. They’ve drawn the most walks (50) and stolen the most bases (13) in the playoffs.
It’s helped them overcome an MLB-worst 117 strikeouts.
The key in the series, and Game 1, will be Manny Machado. LA is 2-1 in the playoffs when he homers, and are 2-1 when he gets multiple hits.
He and Cody Bellinger will play crucial roles offensively.
Battle of Bullpens Could Decide World Series
While you might expect a significant difference in the workload between the two bullpens, it’s not really that drastic.
Despite two more games and a 13-inning NLCS marathon, the Dodgers have only needed 41.2 innings from their bullpen. The Red Sox have needed theirs for 37.1 innings.
Craig Kimbrel’s 7.11 ERA doesn’t help things much either.
And that may be the most troubling thing. Kimbrel’s only scoreless inning this postseason was Game 5 against Houston. He’s walked six and given up six hits in 6.1 innings pitched.
At the back of the Dodgers bullpen? Kenley Jansen. Six appearances. Two hits. Ten strikeouts. No runs allowed.
Clayton Kershaw was at Fenway Park by himself on Sunday night to prepare for the World Series.
Hard work and success never takes a day off.
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) October 22, 2018
Dodgers Poised to Take Game 1 of 2018 World Series
Some will try to make the rest versus rust argument. The Dodgers wrapped up the NLCS on Saturday night. The Red Sox haven’t played since Thursday.
That isn’t what will decide things though.
In a matchup of embattled playoff aces, Clayton Kershaw will get the better of Chris Sale. While he may never be seen as a great playoff pitcher, he’s been on the stage. He knows what he’s up against. And the Dodgers are on a mission after last year’s disappointment.
World Series Game 1 Score Prediction: Dodgers 6, Red Sox 3
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