The Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, two of baseball’s most storied franchises, will begin the 2018 World Series on Tuesday night at Fenway Park in Boston (8 p.m., FOX). The Red Sox, owners of the MLB’s best regular season record, earned the right to host four out of seven games, if necessary. Taking that home field advantage into account, oddsmakers have pinned Boston as -145 favorites to win the World Series. The Dodgers, in an unusual spot as the underdog, are available at +125.
Boston’s bats have a commanding advantage over L.A.’s coming into the World Series. As a team, the Red Sox batted .253 with an OPS of .745, compared to the Dodgers’ average of .218 and OPS of .691.
The Red Sox have been getting production at the plate from some unexpected sources, as Rafael Devers (.350) and Brock Holt (.333) have delivered when called upon. J.D. Martinez has carried his terrific regular season form into the playoffs, as he’s batted .313 with two homers and nine RBIs. Martinez is the co-leader in RBIs, tied with ALCS MVP Jackie Bradley Jr., who was mired in a slump before busting out for two home runs (including a grand slam) and nine RBIs in that series alone.
Smart, situational hitting has been the name of the game for Los Angeles so far. Chris Taylor (.360) and Yasiel Puig (.333) are the only Dodgers that can really boast “hot bats” at the moment. Justin Turner is averaging .279 with just one home run, but it was a clutch shot that put his team up for good in Game 2 of the NLCS. Manny Machado has three home runs, the team leader in that department, but is batting just .250. Max Muncy is batting below .200 but has an OBP of .372, as he’s drawn a team-high 10 walks.
The Dodgers have a significant bullpen advantage, which is more important than ever in 2018. Dave Roberts has used his relievers wisely, as they’ve tossed just 5.1 more innings than Boston’s despite playing two additional games. Kenley Jansen (three saves), Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson and Dylan Floro have combined for 19.6 innings of shutout baseball, bringing L.A.’s bullpen ERA down to 1.30. By comparison, the Red Sox bullpen ERA is 3.62. And closer Craig Kimbrel has seemingly walked the tightrope in every save situation this postseason.
Discerning an edge in starting pitching is just about impossible, unless Chris Sale’s mysterious stomach illness suddenly inhibits him from being effective. Sale going toe-to-toe with Clayton Kershaw is must-see TV. Each team has a surprise starter that’s risen to the occasion in the form of Rich Hill for L.A. and Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, while each club has two starters that haven’t really pulled their weight (Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler for the Dodgers, David Price and Rick Porcello for the Red Sox).
Prediction: Dodgers win, 4-2
The play: Dodgers +125