Dodgers @ Red Sox October 23, 2018: World Series Game 1, Kershaw vs. Sale

(Via)

It all seems so surreal. The Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second straight year. The 2018 World Series will be an epic battle between two of the best teams in baseball in what should be an incredible and historic series.

This World Series has everything you want in a Fall Classic minus the rainy weather. The backdrop is two historic and old ballparks, Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium. The careers of the two managers are intertwined in the history of both teams. The Dodgers seek redemption from their loss last year, and the Red Sox are vying for their fourth World Series win since 2004.

Dodgers
Red Sox
5:09 PM
Boston
2B
Dozier
RF
Betts
3B
Turner
LF
Benintendi
1B Freese
1B
Pearce
SS
Machado
DH
Martinez
LF
Taylor
SS
Bogaerts
DH
Kemp
3B
Devers
CF
Hernandez 2B Kinsler
RF
Puig
C
Leon
C
Barnes
CF
Bradley Jr.
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Sale (L)

The Red Sox had the best record in baseball this year (108-54, 7-2 in postseason) and bring their powerful offense that led the majors in average (.268), OBP (.339), SLG (.453) and OPS (.792) to the series. The Dodgers (92-71, 7-4 in postseason) have excelled in pitching this postseason and hold an edge in that category. The LA bullpen has been exceptional with a 1.30 ERA this postseason.

Two of the most dominating left-handed starting pitchers in baseball will face off in Game 1, a marquee matchup between Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw. It’ll be more of a traditional affair with starting pitchers who pitch more than one batter before getting yanked for a reliever.

Sale was excellent this year and went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 1.98 FIP. This postseason he’s 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA and 2.48 FIP. Kershaw went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 3.19 FIP during the regular season. This postseason he’s 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA and 2.95 FIP.

Sale was recently hospitalized with a stomach illness which he blamed on an infected belly button ring.

I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

It’s not the first time Sale hasn’t been able to pitch due to a weird reason. He once bizarrely cut up a throwback White Sox jersey he didn’t like in 2016.

Sale is looking for redemption of his own in the postseason after a disastrous seven-run start in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS vs. Houston and a second loss in Game 4. This postseason he hasn’t lasted more than 5 1/3 innings, and Boston lost 7-2 to Houston in his last start in Game 1 of the ALCS (4 IP, 1 H, 2R), nine days ago.

Even though Sale dealt with left shoulder inflammation which limited his innings in the second half, he has been one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball the last few years. His 13.50 K/9 led all major-league starters with at least 100 IP. Sale was especially dominant against left-handed batters (13.67 K/9, .170 average), and didn’t allow a home run to a lefty all season.

The last time Sale faced the Dodgers was back on June 15, 2012 when he was with the White Sox. He allowed five runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings at Dodger Stadium in the 7-6 Dodgers win.

Sale might have some odd humor, but that slider is filthy.

Brian Dozier and Manny Machado have the most experience against Sale having come from AL teams. So it makes sense that Dozier is at second base and leading off in Roberts’ first lineup of the series. Dozier is 12-for-47 (.255) with three home runs against Sale, and Machado is 6-for-19 (.316) with two doubles and a homer against the eccentric southpaw. The Boston crowd will surely let Manny know what they think, but he’s actually hit well at Fenway in his career. Manny’s 57-for-205 (.278) with 15 doubles and 8 homers at the historic ballpark.

Roberts switched up the lineup a bit with Dozier leading off and David Freese starting at first base, batting third. Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, and Yasiel Puig will patrol the unique outfield at Fenway that includes the Green Monster in left and the short porch in right. Matt Kemp is the designated hitter, and it’s a perfect opportunity for the long-tenured Dodger to finally create a big moment at the World Series. Austin Barnes gets the start behind the plate with the southpaw Sale on the mound.

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Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA, 3.19 FIP, draws his third career World Series start and first career start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He’s coming off a ninth-inning 15-pitch pennant-clinching relief appearance in Game 7 of the NLCS last Saturday. Although he struggled in Game 1 (3 IP, 6 H, 5 R), the supreme southpaw bounced back in Game 5 to pitch seven innings, only allowing one run on three hits (98 pitches).

We all know that when Kershaw’s slider is sharp and he’s throwing his curveball effectively, he’s the best pitcher on the planet. With his opt-out looming, Kershaw’s Dodgers legacy could hinge on his performance in what could be his final start in Dodger Blue. I hate to even write that, but facts are facts.

In inter-league play Kershaw has a career record of 17-4 with a 2.14 ERA, 9.8 K/9, and 0.929 WHIP in 240 IP. He’ll have to pitch very carefully to J.D. Martinez. He’s 5-for-11 (.455) against Kershaw with a double and two home runs.

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The World Series rosters were officially announced today, and there was only one change with the addition of Scott Alexander in the bullpen instead of Caleb Ferguson.

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I remember 1988, but it feels so long ago. I’ve never seen the Dodgers win the World Series as an adult. Now I’ve had two children of my own since the last time I watched the Dodgers win the Fall Classic as a kid. I worshipped Mike Scioscia, and I spent my summers collecting baseball cards and taking score on my living room floor in front of our old console television when the games were televised.  There were no wild cards, complete games were the norm, and the Reds, Astros, and Braves were still in the NL West. The game may have evolved since then, but my obsession with it has only become stronger.

The Dodgers may be the underdogs this series, but so was the ’88 team. Just sayin’.

Win the damn thing this time.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.