There’s no doubt the 2018 World Series was one to remember.
While last year’s Fall Classic anticlimactically concluded with the Boston Red Sox emerging victorious over the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, it still represented the first time the two storied franchises had met on baseball’s biggest stage in more than 100 years.
Both clubs may meet in late-October once again. But before that potentially occurs, the Red Sox and Dodgers will collide at the onset of the season’s second half.
Los Angeles has been on top of the National League for the duration of the campaign, holding baseball’s largest division lead at 13.5 games in the NL West. Their offense has been great all year but it’s arguably been the pitching that has led the way. The Dodgers’ 3.37 ERA as a team is first in the league. In particular, the starting staff has been outstanding, collectively registering a 3.06 ERA.
Meanwhile, things have not been as smooth for the defending champs. Boston came out of the gate with a relatively weak start, one that resulted in them having more losses than wins entering May.
The Red Sox have since righted the ship, going into the All-Star break a season-high eight games over .500, but they still sit nine games back in the AL East and two games out of the final Wild Card spot.
Let’s evaluate each contest on tap and try to figure out how this World Series rematch will pan out.
Kenta Maeda vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (Friday): If you’re looking for the Majors’ best pitcher in terms of over bets, that would be Rodriguez, who has seen the over go a ridiculous 15-3 in his starts. Strangely, the left-hander hasn’t even pitched badly to warrant such a reputation in 2019. Though he sports an unspectacular 4.65 ERA, Rodriguez is also 9-4 while recording more than a strikeout per inning.
Maeda has been a pleasant surprise in his return to the Dodgers’ pitching rotation in a regular role. He’ll also be looking to pick up where he left off, having allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts. This one will be a challenge, though, as Maeda’s ERA on the road this year (5.52) is more than twice as high as it is at home (2.26). That’s been a trend for the Japanese import since first arriving in the big leagues. OVER
Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Chris Sale (Saturday): Based on track records, you’d think it was Sale who started in the All-Star Game with Ryu left out completely but instead, the outcomes were reversed. It was a well-deserved honor for the Dodger southpaw after producing baseball’s lowest ERA (1.73) in the first half, not to mention the lowest WHIP (0.91) among all NL starters.
Sale was remarkably an All-Star in each of the last seven years but a poor April was apparently too much to overcome in this year’s effort. Since then, though, the perennial AL Cy Young Award candidate has been much more like himself, so look for him to continue that as soon as his season resumes. UNDER
Clayton Kershaw vs. David Price (Sunday): On this week’s ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast, a rematch of the deciding Game 5 from last year’s World Series looks like it will wrap up this interleague showdown.
Of course, it was Price who was triumphant on that night, capping off what was an incredible Fall Classic for the 12-year vet that saw him yield only three runs to the Dodgers in 13.2 innings. This year it’s been more of the same, as evident in his 3.24 ERA, but most impressive of all in a campaign that is seeing a record-amount of long balls is that Price is tied for the fewest home runs allowed among qualified AL starters with only seven.
Kershaw, who made the All-Star squad for the eighth-time in his future Hall-of-Fame-bound career, will be looking to avenge a disappointing showing in that aforementioned World Series matchup. In his two outings against Boston last October, he surrendered nine runs across 11 innings. Given his superb consistency this season, with 12 quality starts in 15 assignments, look for that Kershaw to emerge. UNDER
Last week: 3-0
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