Monday, October 23, 2017

A quality World Series pairing

It's been a long time since the World Series paired a pair of 100-win teams -- 1970, I believe, in which the Baltimore Orioles (108 wins) beat the Cincinnati Reds (102) in five games as Brooks Robinson created the highlight reel that informs today's memories of his career.

Divisions and wild cards have created a multi-tiered postseason that -- my frequent complaint/observation repeats here -- devalues the regular season. It is more difficult for a truly great team to make it to the World Series today.

So praise to the Dodgers and Astros, each of whom were sufficiently dominant in the regular season to hit the century mark in wins and survived two post season series.

Who wins? I assume the Dodgers are favored, not that that matters much. I'm rooting for the Astros, to the extent that I can find a rooting interest here. Certainly I'll be cheering for the baseball.

Here are three things that may decide this series:

Lefty-righty. The Dodgers starters are heavily left-handed. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Alex Wood have been named to start Games 1, 2 and 4 respectively. Only Yu Darvish (Game 3) is right-handed.

The best hitters in the Houston lineup -- Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez -- are right-handed. The platoon differential favors Houston when they hit.

In relief we (mis)trust: The L.A. bullpen has been more reliable this month than Houston's. It certainly didn't escape notice that the Astros largely bypassed its season-long relief corps in Games 6 and 7 against the Yankees and took five innings from repurposed starters instead in a pair of elimination games. If A.J. Hinch can't get better work from the likes of Luke Gregorson and Chris Devenski in this series, it's going to be difficult to beat the Dodgers.

Seager's back: Corey Seager, the Dodger shortstop, is their best player. He also sat out the NLCS against the Cubs with a back problem, and his absence was hardly noticed. 

As of Sunday, Seager was expected to be on the World Series roster. If he's his usual self, that improves the Dodger lineup. If he's not up to speed, it may hamper them.

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