By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
So you didn’t stay up late watching West Coast baseball all season long and you’re a little unfamiliar with the Dodgers ahead of the Fall Classic?
Don’t worry, we have you covered here at 98.5 The Sports Hub. Here are five things to know about the National League champs ahead of the World Series.
Clayton Kershaw is the ultimate trick-or-treat postseason pitcher:
A lot has been made about Kershaw’s October shortcomings over the years. He is arguably the best pitcher of his generation (2.39 career ERA, three Cy Young awards), but his playoff career has been underwhelming (4.09 ERA in 28 appearances).
That said, Kershaw has had his fair share of postseason gems, and holds the record for the most October starts allowing three hits or fewer with one run or fewer. He’s had eight of those starts, but he’s also had eight starts where he’s allowed 4 runs or more.
He’s not invincible, but he’s no slouch, either.
24-year-old rookie Walker Buehler has arguably been the Dodgers best pitcher since he was called up from the minor leagues in late-April.
He pitched well in a number of the club’s biggest games down the stretch, allowing just two earned runs in his final three starts of the 162-game schedule, and was the winning pitcher in the Dodgers tie-breaking win over the Rockies.
Buehler tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 7 of the NLCS and appears ready for baseball’s biggest stage. He’ll go in Game 3 in Los Angeles and would be lined up to pitch Game 7 at Fenway Park.
The Dodgers clearly trust him when the lights get bright.
Justin Turner makes the Dodgers tick:
When Justin Turner was activated from the disabled list on May 15, the defending National League champions were eight games under .500. They finished 21 games over .500 and his return has been viewed as the turning point in the Dodgers season.
The third baseman batted .312 with a .924 OPS in 2018 and has a well-deserved reputation as an October performer with a knack for crucial hits.
Turner is the last player Red Sox fans want to see at the plate in a big moment.
Will the left-handed hitters be a problem late?
The Dodgers finished second in baseball in home runs this year (235), and they have plenty of power from the left side of the plate in the form of Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, and Max Muncy.
The Red Sox don’t have a reliable left-handed reliever out of the bullpen, meaning Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier, who have been excellent this October, will have to face their fair share of left-handed hitters in big moments. The Astros were a heavily right-handed lineup, but the Dodgers are a more balanced club and can do more damage from the left side.
How Alex Cora manages these matchups remains to be seen. Look for David Price to be called upon one time in Dodger Stadium out of the bullpen to get an out against a lefty if needed.
Teams can run on the Dodgers:
Nobody will confuse Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes with Pudge Rodriguez. The Dodgers backstops threw out runners at 28 and 22 percent clips, respectively. That’s a far cry from Houston’s Martin Maldonado, who threw out 48 percent of runners this year.
The Red Sox weren’t able to run much in the ALCS because of Maldonado’s strong arm. That should change in the World Series.