During a regular season in Major League Baseball (MLB), each team plays a total of 162 games. Due to the high amount of games required in a season, rest days are not commonly in the schedule. The Boston Red Sox won the American League Championship Series (ALCS) four games to one and advanced to the World Series. The ALCS concluded on October 18th, giving the Red Sox four days of rest before the World Series. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series, and they won four games to three. The series concluded on October 20th, giving the Dodgers only 2 days of rest before the World Series against the Red Sox. The extra rest days the Red Sox received could be valuable for the starting pitchers because it allows them to be at full strength for each game. The pitchers for the Dodgers, however, do not have the same luxury. Their rotation for the series will not be what they are used to, and they will not have their top pitchers available for the start of the series. This allows the Red Sox to gain an advantage before the series starts.
Home Field Advantage (Or Lack Thereof)
Out of the four major sports leagues in the United States, the MLB is the only association to use the 2-3-2 rule. The rule implies that the team with the better record in the series plays the first two games and the last two games on their home field. The team with the worst record plays the three games in the middle on their home field. This rule is still in place to minimize the travel time and expenses each organization needs. The problem with this rule, however, is that it gives an advantage to the team with the worst record, which is opposite of the intended effect. Allowing a team to have three consecutive games on their home field gives them a better chance to gain momentum in the series. In this year’s case, the Dodgers will have three consecutive games at home, which could work to their advantage.
Clayton Kershaw has been the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top pitcher for the past 11 seasons. During his career, he has played to a 2.39 earned run average (ERA) and a 1.005 walk plus hit average (WHIP). This has earned him one MVP and three Cy Young Awards. The Dodgers rely on him heavily during the postseason, but he does not produce the same results as he does in the regular season. Kershaw’s postseason averages include a 4.28 ERA and a 1.097 WHIP. The stats Kershaw produces in the postseason causes uncertainty within the Dodgers’ coaching staff, and it forces them to make a tough decision over playing time. The Dodgers do not have as strong of a pitching staff as the Red Sox, which means Kershaw needs to increase his level of postseason production for them to have a chance of winning the World Series.
Boston Red Sox’s Bats
In the MLB, offense is more prominent than defense, and many teams use the strategy “score more than the other team.” During the regular season, the Red Sox had the most runs batted in and batting average in the entire league. This allowed them to win the most games in the MLB, and eight more than the next team. They also have J.D. Martinez, who hit the second most home runs in the league. If the Red Sox are not able to keep up their regular season production, the Dodgers will punish them with their hitting, and that could be the deciding factor in the series.
ESPN, ESPN Internet Venture.
“Clayton Kershaw Stats.” Baseball-Reference.com.
ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures.
“Baseball Standings.” MLB.com, http://www.mlb.com/standings.