The Rays are in the World Series for the second time in franchise history.
The Rays, the best team in the American League, punched their ticket to the fall classic beating the Toronto Blue Jays two games to nothing in the Wildcard round.
The Rays then disposed of the New York Yankees three games to two in the division round, then beat the Houston Astros four games to three in the American League Championship series.
The Rays will take on the best team in baseball in the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers finished the season with a 43-17 record.
The Dodgers earned their way into the World Series by beating the Milwaukee brewers two games to nothing in the wildcard round.
The Dodgers then swept the San Diego Padres three games to nothing in the division series, before taking out the Atlanta Braves in seven games in the National League Championship series.
The Braves had the Dodgers down three games to one before the Dodgers won three straight to end the Braves season.
Both teams come into the series with the best pitching in baseball. The Rays finished third in the regular season with a 3.56 ERA, while the Dodgers led MLB with a 3.02 ERA.
In the post-season, the Rays and the Dodgers both have a 3.36 ERA.
Offensively the Dodgers have hit much better than the Rays. The Dodgers are hitting .256 in the post-season, while the Rays come in at .209
This series is going to come down to who has the best pitching. You won’t see any team put up 15 runs as the Dodgers did in game three against the Braves, or the 10 runs that the Braves put on the Dodgers in game four of the series.
Both bullpens are solid. The Rays will use their bullpen guys at any point in the game. There is no designated closer, as the Rays had 12 pitchers earn saves during the regular season.
Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, and Brusdar Graterol have all closed for the Dodgers in the post-season.
The key for the Dodgers will be Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw will start game one for the Dodgers going against Tyler Glasnow off the Rays.
Kershaw has a 2-2 record this post-season with a 3.32 ERA. In his career, Kershaw has been less than stellar in the playoffs with a record of 11-11 and a 4.23 ERA.
At some point during the post-season, Kershaw implodes and has one of those games where it looks as if the hitter knows every pitch that is coming.
Kershaw has to pitch like the Clayton Kershaw in the regular season for the Dodgers to have a chance to win.
Nick Anderson is that pitcher for the Rays. Anderson was lights out in the regular season allowing five hits all season and posting a 0.56 ERA. In the playoffs, Anderson has allowed 11 hits in 11 innings and has a 4.63 ERA.
The Rays need Nick Anderson to pitch as he did in the regular season to give the Rays the best chance to win.
Offensively the Rays offense has been “offensive.”
The Rays are hitting .209, and their leading hitter and MVP from the regular season Brandon Lowe has been missing in action.
After hitting 14 home runs and driving in 37 runs in the regular season, Lowe has six hits in 52 at-bats with one homer and two runs batted in during the post-season.
Lowe has to get it going if the Rays are going to win the series.
Randy Arozarena and Manuel Margot have carried the Rays in the post-season. Arozarena is hitting .382 and leads MLB with seven post-season home runs.
Margot, although .256, has made his hits count hitting five homers and driving in 11 runs.
It would be a big boost for this offense if Hunter Renfroe and Austin Meadows would start hitting. Renfroe is hitting .200 but did hit a grand slam in game two of the series against Toronto.
Meadows is hitting .114 and has four hits in 35 at-bats.
The Dodgers offense is potent. Corey Seager leads this team with six home runs and 15 runs batted in during the post-season. Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Mookie Betts can also create problems for opposing teams.
Although not as potent as the Houston offense, this Dodgers offense can explode at any time and score runs quickly.
This series may come down to who manages the game the best. Every single move will be important and scrutinized.
Kevin Cash, outside of game six in the ALCS, when he pulled Snell early, has been masterful in the playoffs. He has made the right decisions at the right time. From pitching matchups to defensive replacements, Cash has been superb throughout the post-season.
Offense Advantage Dodgers
Pitching Advantage Rays
Manager Advantage Rays
This series will go to seven games. The Rays will go with Tyler Glasnow in game one, and Blake Snell in the second game.
Charlie Morton is line to start game three.
The Dodgers will go with Clayton Kershaw in game one, and Walker Buehler in game three. Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager said he is not sure who will start in game two.
Pitching will decide who wins the series. If the Rays pitch as they did against Houston, the Rays win the series.
Charlie Morton has been the most consistent pitcher for the Rays this post-season going 3-0 with 0.57 ERA.
The offense will hit better than they did against Houston. Look for Lowe, Renfroe, and Austin Meadows to start hitting and contributing offensively instead of just having Arozarena and Margot contribute.
When the lights have been turned off for the last time at Globe Life Park in Dallas, the Rays will be lifting their first World Series trophy in franchise history.
Rays win in seven.