World Series 2017: What you need to know as the Houston Astros & L.A. Dodgers square up

Seeing the rivalry renewed between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees in the World Series for a record 12th time would have been special, but this fall we’ve been gifted in another way.

The Houston Astros are set to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the finale Major League Baseball (MLB) season. Both teams have hit the century mark of wins this year.

Only seven times before have teams with 100 wins in a season met in the World Series. This year will mark the first time since the 1970 World Series when the Cincinnati Reds met the Baltimore Orioles.

This is also the first time that a team is participating in the World Series from both the National League and the American League. Houston was a part of the National League in 2005 when they faced the White Sox in the World Series and lost.

So, what can we expect in this World Series? The first point of conversation is offense.

The Dodgers come into this series having scored 48 runs in 8 games. The Astros have scored 44 runs in 11 games.

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It’s clear both these teams can score runs. For the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig is at the helm of all the overall batting averages on the team, averaging .414 at the plate in 29 appearances. Next in line for the Dodgers is third baseman Justin Turner, who is averaging .387 at the plate in 31 appearances.

Dodgers are welcoming back All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who was sidelined with a back- strain injury during the National League Championship Series (NLCS). He hit 52 home runs in the regular season.

On the other side of the diamond, the Astros are comfortable in their offensive talents.

Possible MVP candidate Jose Altuve is averaging .400 at the plate in 40 at bats. Next in line is Yuli Gurriel averaging .366 in 41 at bats.

The shortstop for the Astros, Carlos Correa, is another player to look out for offensively.

Fans can expect some high scoring games in this series. Both teams have shown their offensive prowess over the course of the playoffs.

Crafting an excellent pitching performance will be difficult for the starters. But, with pitchers like Klayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Dallas Kuechel and Justin Verlander taking the mound, offense can expect considerable difficulty .

Dallas Kuechel enters the World Series with a 1.78 era in five post-season appearances. He is making his first ever World Series start.

Over the course of the post-season, the American League Championship Series MVP Justin Verlander also stole the show with a 1.46 era and 24 strikeouts. He has yet to lose a playoff game. It’s safe to say he’s the best of all the pitchers between both teams.

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Klayton Kershaw also has a deceiving 3.46 era, and played an exceptional game against the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLCS. His deadly curveball is one of the best in the MLB, freezing batters at the plate.

Yu Darvish will also make his first World Series appearance. In two starts this post-season, he has struck out 14 batters and allowed just two earned runs. And let’s not also forget veteran Rich Hill, who has been an incredible asset to the Dodgers starting rotation.

Statistically speaking, aside from great batting and pitching, there are two differences that will make or break this series – and it falls in favour of the Dodgers.

The first is the bullpen. This postseason, the Dodgers bullpen recorded 23 innings without conceding a run, breaking the previous record of 22 2/3 innings. Former Blue Jay Brandon Morrow, Kenley Jansen and Josh Fields are among others who have stepped in for their starting pitchers. Closing pitcher Jansen, has yet to allow an earned run in eight innings pitched. As a club, the Dodgers have averaged an era of 2.28, allowing only 18 earned runs in 71 innings pitched, striking out 81 batters.

The Astros numbers are not close. They have allowed, on average 3.79 era in 95 innings pitched, striking out 103 batters, along with 40 earned runs as a team. If the Astros bullpen does not come to compete, Houston will definitely have a problem. 

The second statistic favouring the Dodgers is fielding percentage, turning a ball that is in play into an out. According to CBS sports, the Dodgers are the best in the MLB turning 2.82 percent more plays into outs. This is a staggering statistic if you’re looking at it through the eyes of the Astros. Their team sits at 0.13; good enough for 14th overall in the MLB. But is it good enough to win the World Series?

In this battle – yes – the Dodgers are poised to win. But that doesn’t mean the Astros can’t turn it around. Who lifts the trophy after seven games remains to be seen.

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