Let’s get this party started!
We’re opening up the Fall Classic, and it’s a terrific matchup between the two teams which spent the bulk of the season as the best in their respective leagues. It’s going to be a terrific World Series.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (HOU) versus LHP Clayton Kershaw (LAD) — 8:09 p.m. ET, FOX
One can argue on behalf of Justin Verlander, but this is the best of what each side has to offer. The icing on the cake comes from the fact that Verlander pitched Game 6 of the ALCS. So pushing him back to Game 2 gets him on four days worth of rest. That’s one day shorter than Kershaw, who started the clincher against the Cubs—an 11-1 blowout at Wrigley Field.
Keuchel was brilliant in his first two postseason starts but a little spotty last time out, allowing four earned runs in 4.2 innings at Yankee Stadium as part of the three-game stretch in the Bronx that let the Bombers back into the series. Still, he’s the best of what the Astros have to offer. And that’s not a slight in the least. He’s a tough matchup for anyone, especially due to his penchant for grounders. But he’s especially tough on left-handed hitters, who hit just .145/.190/.245 against him this season. Before righties feel too comfortable though, they hit just .236/.307/.359—or about the equivalent of a banjo-hitting shortstop. This is bad news for Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger.
While the rest of the Dodgers offense has plenty of balance to make things work, those are two of the main cogs in that lineup.
We don’t quite know what to do with the “Kershaw in the playoffs” narrative. He’s typically good for a 2.00ish ERA during the season and has posted a mark in excess of 4.00 in Octobers, but this year he’s been…..fine. His postseason ERA this year is 3.63. And through three starts, he’s gone 17.1 innings with 16 strikeouts, five walks, a 0.98 WHIP and a BAA of .194.
Hopefully it won’t rule the day too much if the Astros score some runs against him. This is a historically good offense—the best since the 1931 Yankees by wRC+—and they didn’t have much trouble with lefties or righties this season. Kershaw is terrific, of course. But if he allows three earned runs over six innings, that’s not exactly a choke job like the knuckle-draggers might insist.
This is going to be a spirited series, and this is a great way to open it.