There’s nothing like a matchup between Cy Young award-winning southpaws to kick off the first World Series since 1970 to feature two 100-win teams. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, Clayton Kershaw (1.99) is the only starting pitcher with an ERA below 2.00, and Dallas Keuchel (3.15) has the third-best ERA in the American League during that time behind only Corey Kluber (2.83) and Chris Sale (2.99). In a postseason dominated by bullpens, this has a chance to be an old-school pitchers’ duel.
During the regular season, the Astros (.813) and the Dodgers (.789) each had the second-best OPS against left-handed pitching in their respective leagues, so even southpaws as great as Keuchel and Kershaw have their work cut out for them. Keuchel has never faced the Dodgers before and Kershaw’s lone start against the Astros since 2013 came in 2015, so there’s little in the way of matchup-based track records to go on.
PECOTA odds of winning: 65% Dodgers, 35% Astros
Projected Starting Lineups
|Astros vs. Kershaw (L)||Dodgers vs. Keuchel (L)|
|George Springer (R), CF||Chris Taylor (R), CF|
|Alex Bregman (R), 3B||Justin Turner (R), 3B|
|Jose Altuve (R), 2B||Cody Bellinger (L), 1B|
|Carlos Correa (R), SS||Yasiel Puig (R), RF|
|Yulieski Gurriel (R), 1B||Enrique Hernandez (R), LF|
|Brian McCann (L), C||Corey Seager (L), SS|
|Marwin Gonzalez (S), LF||Logan Forsythe (R), 2B|
|Josh Reddick (L), RF||Austin Barnes (R), C|
|Dallas Keuchel (L), SP||Clayton Kershaw (L), SP|
Corey Seager has been re-added to the Dodgers’ roster after sitting out the NLCS with a back injury. Charlie Culberson did a helluva job filling in for him, going 5-for-11 with three extra-base hits against the Cubs, but even at considerably less than full strength the Dodgers will take their chances on Seager’s ability to make an impact. Yasmani Grandal is due back from paternity leave in time for the game, but Austin Barnes has passed him on the catching depth chart anyway, especially versus left-handed pitching. Los Angeles’ bullpen is fully rested, which means the setup/closer combo of Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen could be asked to get nine (or more) outs.
Evan Gattis almost surely would have started at designated hitter versus Kershaw, but National League rules take that option away from manager A.J. Hinch. Gattis sometimes starts over Brian McCann at catcher against lefties, but Keuchel didn’t throw a single pitch to Gattis during the regular season. Expect to see Hinch deploy Gattis as a high-leverage pinch-hitter. Center fielder Jake Marisnick had hoped to return from thumb surgery in time for the World Series, but he’s been ruled out. Hinch will have to give his relievers another chance to earn his trust, because Lance McCullers and his curveball will be needed as a starter in Game 3 or 4.
Los Angeles is at home with the best pitcher in the world on the mound, so naturally PECOTA projects the Dodgers as heavy favorites at 65 percent to win Game 1. Las Vegas more or less agrees, with most gambling lines putting the Dodgers at -170 for a break-even win rate of 63 percent.
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