MLB

The 2017 MLB fall classic gave us one of the greatest World Series regarding a whole collection of games. Save for Game 7; the other six combined may trump any other six-game collection on the same stage. There were two games with back-and-forth extra-inning drama. There were slugfests, low-scoring games that were very compelling because runs were at a premium due to great pitching and defense.

There were MLB stars galore. It had everything and will be as memorable as they get. Now we get to relive that this weekend, as the Astros go to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers. This series has a chance to spark fireworks and be the best series of the year in the MLB. And it’s not hyperbole because both teams are two of the most talented.

The Astros started off the season strong and have powered themselves to a top-5 MLB offense, while the  Dodgers have the 6th best offense. Both teams are top-2 in team ERA and have the two best starting pitching staffs in the MLB.

However, the Dodgers started off extremely slow but started to the resemble the team from last year beginning after a loss on May 16 that dropped them to 16-26. The Dodgers have had a history of starting every season off slow during their 5-year NL West dominance. And because of this, it’s best to judge the boys in blue from the turnaround.

Since May 17, the Dodgers pitching own a 3.19 team ERA, .651 OPs against, and .282 wOBA against, which all are first in the MLB. They also have 645 strikeouts, which is second behind the Astros. Speaking of which, Houston has a 3.51 ERA (fourth), .664 OPS (third), and .291 wOBA against (third).

And offensively since then, the Dodgers have scored 355 runs, which is tied with the Boston Red Sox for the most in the MLB, and are one behind the Yankees for the most HR with 115 long balls. And this is without Manny Machado and Brian Dozier for over 80% of this stretch. Houston has scored the sixth-most runs and hit the fourth-most home runs.

So while the Astros have the better record overall, the Dodgers have been the better once they started finding a groove and getting their players back. Since the turn, the Houston is 41-24, and Los Angeles is 45-23. So the Dodgers have been better since they started playing like the Dodgers, but it’s close.

Both teams are powerhouses that are the co-favorites to win the World Series. This weekend may be a preview to the 2018 World Series. Dodgers fans would be happy because it would allow for the chance of revenge on the team that celebrated winning the title in front of them. And Astros fans wouldn’t mind because it may give us another exciting world series.

These next three games will feature elite hitters and offenses, and excellent starting pitching. The one place the Astros have the leg-up is the bullpen, where the Dodgers have been shaky yet did not adequately address the problem at the MLB Trade Deadline.

There will stars all over the field, even with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager missing. You still have Manny Machado, Justin Turner, George Springer, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Kenley Jansen, and Alex Bregman.

Cody Bellinger is struggling but had a big game last night, and we know he can be elite when firing on all cylinders. Yasmani Grandal is one of the three best catchers in the game and arguably the hottest hitter in the MLB. And Brian Dozier turns into one of the game’s best hitters in the second halves of seasons and has had two excellent games with the Dodgers since coming over to Los Angeles.

There’s firepower on both sides. The main difference between both pitching staffs is the Astros do it by power pitching, whereas the Dodgers rely more on finesse, soft contact, and ground balls. But, the boys in blue still are top-3 in strikeout percentage.

Friday’s series opener will feature Alex Wood facing off against the Astros’ ace Justin Verlander, then Kenta Maeda vs. Lance McCullers on Saturday, and, what we hope figures to be the rubber match on Sunday, Walker Buehler vs. Gerrit Cole.

This series will not have any ramifications on the World Series, but winning this weekend series could give either team momentum in a big way. The Astros have lost six of their last eight games and can use a momentum turner. Going into LA and taking two of three will help the reigning champs snap out of this mini-slump.

And before scoring 27 runs in their last two games, while winning both, the Dodgers had lost three straight and scored just 27 runs in their previous eight outings. If the Dodgers hold down the fort, then it could help them start another run, which they need to help them distance themselves from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. And they need to be able to hit off the good pitching they will be facing this weekend to give their lineup depth legitimacy.

So get your popcorn ready because there’s going to be intensity and drama over the next three games; there will no doubt have a playoff atmosphere. But if it doesn’t live up to the expectations, then, well, that’s baseball.

Featured Image via Flickr/Ken Lund