For the third straight postseason series this October, the Dodgers are awaiting their opponent. They will either play the Yankees or Astros, with those two teams resuming the ALCS on Friday night in Houston.
New York leads the series 3-2, with Luis Severino on the mound in Game 6, facing Justin Verlander, who has won every game he has pitched since joining the Astros.
Whether the Dodgers play the Yankees or the Astros, the 2017 World Series figures to be a fantastic matchup. We will either see the renewal of the Fall Classic’s most prolific rivalry, or a battle of titans that baseball hasn’t seen in October in four decades.
The Dodgers and Yankees have met 11 times in the World Series, four more than any other matchup (Yankees-Giants have the second-most, with seven; Yankees-Cardinals have met five times). For most of their history, the Dodgers were the nail to the Yankees’ hammer, with New York winning eight of the 11 matchups, including the first five meetings. The Dodgers have beaten the Yankees three times in the World Series — their only Brooklyn title, in 1955, then again in 1963 and 1981 in Los Angeles, the latter their last World Series tussle.
The Dodgers and Astros used to play in the same division, and haven’t met in the World Series. They did play each other in the first Division Series, after the 1981 strike-shortened season that was split into halves. The Dodgers lost the first two games in the Astrodome, but won the final three games at Dodger Stadium to take the series.
Should the Dodgers (104-58) and Astros (101-61) meet in the World Series, it will be the first postseason series with two 100-win teams since the Yankees and Royals faced off in the 1977 ALCS.
The Dodgers had the fourth-best run differential in baseball in 2017, outscoring their opponents by 190 runs. The Yankees were second-best (+198) and the Astros were third (+196). New York already knocked off the top team in that regard, the 102-win Indians (+254).
The Astros and Yankees were the two best offenses in baseball during the regular season, even if Houston isn’t exactly showing that during the ALCS. Houston averaged 5.53 runs per game, slugged .478 as a team and scored a whopping 501 runs on the road (6.19 per game). The Yankees averaged 5.30 runs this season, and led the majors with 241 home runs.
During the ALCS, Houston is hitting just .147/.234/.213 through five games, and have scored nine total runs.
Rookies of the Year
Both Rookie of the Year awards should be unanimous this season, and a Dodgers-Yankees matchup would feature both winners. Aaron Judge is an MVP candidate in the American League after hitting .284/.422/.627 and set a rookie record with 52 home runs.
Cody Bellinger set the National League mark with 39 home runs by a rookie — only Judge and Mark McGwire (1987) hit more. Bellinger wasn’t even on the team until 20 games into the season. He hit .267/.352/.581, and so far in the postseason is hitting .278/.316/.500 with two home runs and two doubles in eight games.
Facing the Astros means having to deal with Dallas Keuchel and Verlander in Games 1 and 2, as strong a 1-2 combination as you will find. With at least two off days between the ALCS and World Series — which starts Tuesday — the American League pennant winner will be able to set their rotation how they prefer, unlike the Dodgers’ previous two rounds.
But facing Houston also means facing a bullpen that has been a sieve so far in these playoffs, with a 6.48 ERA and 12 walks in 28 innings.
The Yankees bullpen is ridiculously deep, even with Dellin Betances struggling to find the strike zone. The group of Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Betances, David Robertson. Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren combined for a 2.25 ERA with New York since the All-Star break with 249 strikeouts in 180⅓ innings.
In the postseason, the Yankees bullpen has a 2.05 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 18 walks in 44 innings.
The three teams still alive have yet to lose at home this October. The Dodgers, who had the best home record in baseball during the regular season at 57-24, are 4-0 at Dodger Stadium this October. The Yankees are 6-0, and were 51-30 during the season. The Astros are 4-0 in Houston, after going 48-33 at home during the season.
What team would you rather have the Dodgers face in the World Series?
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