Point: Astros Win Their First World Series
By Joseph Fazio
The Houston Astros going against the Dodgers could see some close matchups late in the game. The Astros this postseason have had many comeback wins behind the bats of Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel. In later innings of games, the Astros have a .357 batting average. The Dodgers come back against the Astros with their bullpen, having an earned run average of 0.94 during the playoffs. Altuve and Gurriel seem to have a spark to their game once it goes past the seventh inning into crunch time. After the seventh inning, Altuve and Gurriel’s batting average jumps to a .385. Altuve is batting .500 in the ninth or latter innings.
The main thing the Dodgers will worry about is not letting their pitchers go to long into games. After 76 pitches, the Dodgers average 4.76 earned runs. If the Dodgers keep star pitcher Clayton Kershaw in past 76 pitches, his ERA jumps up to 6.75.
The best bet for the Astros will be whether Kershaw pitches two games. Kershaw’s ERA went from a 2.31 during the regular season to a 3.63 during the postseason. Altuve’s batting average against left handed pitchers is .500 compared to .357 against right handers. Those four-to-six at bats Altuve will have against Kershaw can become a key factor for the Astros to find runs.
Pitcher Dallas Keuchel will play a contributing factor when the Astros play their home games. With Keuchel pitching in Game 1, he will likely pitch at home for Game 4 as well. In two home games this postseason, Keuchel has a 0.71 ERA, allowing seven hits and striking out 17. The series will most likely go past four games, so Keuchel pitching at home in Game 4 is crucial for the Astros to win their first World Series.
Counterpoint: Dodgers will party like it’s 1988
By Stetson Payne
The Los Angeles Dodgers, despite a late-summer slump nearly-turned collapse, are in the World Series after ripping through series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs.
To win the fall classic, they’ll need to win four games against the Houston Astros, a team riding on a lot of magic and Justin Verlander pitching like a man on fire.
First, the Dodgers can wear down starters better than anyone in the league. Jake Arrieta managed a gem of a start in NLCS Game 4 to force Game 5, but had 111 pitches when he left before the stretch at Wrigley. The Dodgers don’t have to be excellent against starters, but if they’re making pitchers throw more than 5 pitches each at bat, sometimes more than 10, it’s easy to see how with a few walks or base hits a starter could be gassed by the fourth or fifth inning. It’s how the Dodgers test teams’ depth. If Verlander exits with 100 pitches and the lead in the fifth inning, the Astros will be hard-pressed to hold that lead through the end. Oh, and five Dodgers (Culberson, Pederson, Bellinger, Turner and Puig) are batting more than .400 with a full count in the postseason.
Second, the Dodgers don’t swing like the Yankees. Against the Astros, the Yankees struck out 70 times over seven games. Against the Cubs, the Dodgers struck out 41 times over five games. From a numbers perspective, this is pretty close, but who’s actually striking out? For the Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez Brett Gardner, Greg Bird, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hick, seven starters, had 61 strikeouts in the ALCS. Besides Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, no Dodgers’ starters had more than 3 strikeouts in the NLCS. The Astros will have to deal with baserunners more than at any other point in the postseason, and the Dodgers lineup Is batting .273 counting pitchers with runners in scoring position.
Third, there’s less pressure on the Dodgers’ starters than ever before. For the first time in a long time, Dodgers’ starting pitching has consistent run support and a lights-out bullpen. In the Dodgers lone postseason loss, Alex Wood gave up 3 runs early, normally an easy hole to climb out of. That is, unless Jake Arrieta is pitching with the season on the line. The Dodgers’ bullpen pitched a shutout, but with barely two innings left, the Dodgers didn’t have many chances to take Game 4 and every hit went straight into the shift. Don’t count on that kind of luck more than once.
My prediction: The Dodgers win 4-2. MVP: Justin Turner