2017 World Series Preview

Our Jeff Lombardi Jr. digs in to this year’s World Series matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.


Jeff Lombardi Jr., Sports Editor

WAYNE, N.J.- Tuesday night will mark the start of the 113th edition of Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic, a best-of-seven series featuring the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58) and the American League champion Houston Astros (101-61).

This will be the first time since the 1970 World Series between the 108-win Baltimore Orioles and 102-win Cincinatti Reds that both teams eclipsed the 100-win mark during the regular season. An additional World Series first is that this will be the first time that home-field advantage is granted to the team with the best record, as from 1903-2002 home field advantage alternated between the two leagues, while from 2003-2016 the winning league from the All-Star game was granted home-field.

Both franchises have long awaited their chance at bringing home a title.  For the Dodgers, it has been 29 years since their last World Series championship, a 4-1 series win over the Oakland Athletics in 1988.  Since then, Los Angeles has made 11 postseason appearances, won nine NL West division titles and clinched two Wild Card berths, including a current stretch of seven division titles in 10 years.

The Astros have one of the longest World Series “droughts” in MLB, that is if you can have a drought without having won an illustrious World Series ring.

It has been 52 years and counting for Houston’s baseball club, and an additional three years if you include the franchise’s first three years of existence as the Houston Colt .45’s, from 1962-1964.  There have been some close calls along the way for the ‘Stros, most notably in 2005, when the franchise made its only prior World Series appearance as a member of the NL, getting swept by the Chicago White Sox, who were in the midst of their own 87-year title drought.

The Dodgers ran through the majority of the 2017 season on “cruise control,” which lead to being named the “Best. Team. Ever?” by Sports Illustrated as they sported a 91-38 record on August 28.  The Hollywood drive-by continued through the NL playoffs, as they dropped just one decision over the first two rounds en route to sweeping their divisional round opponent, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and taking out the defending champion Chicago Cubs in five games.

Many would call 2017 the season of destiny for the Dodgers. Third baseman, Justin Turner (#10) was pictured on the August 28 cover of Sports Illustrated while receiving a Gatorade bath from teammate, right fielder, Yasiel Puig (#66). SI titled the issue “Best. Team. Ever?” (Via Sports Illustrated)

Throughout their torrid postseason run, the Dodgers offense has been lead by the always electrifying Yasiel Puig (12/29, 3 XBH, 6 RBI, 6 R), in addition to NLCS co-MVP’s Justin Turner (12/31, 3 HR, 12 RBI) and Chris Taylor (9/32, 4 XBH, 8 R) while a historic performance in the NLCS Game 5 clincher by utility player Enrique Hernandez etched his name in the history books as he clubbed three home runs while driving in seven runs.  Los Angeles pitching has been nothing short of spectacular.  As a staff they are currently sporting a sparkling 2.28 ERA while holding opponents to a .169 batting average.

Houston’s success this season could be considered to be in the same ballpark as Los Angeles’, finishing just one game behind the Cleveland Indians for the best record in the AL.  The different narrative behind the Astros is that prior to their wild card berth in 2015, they had suffered through six consecutive losing seasons (2009-2014), including three consecutive 100-loss seasons from 2011-2013.  The “originators” of baseball’s modern day rebuilding process and  youth movement, the Astros turned these dismal records into top draft picks, such as superstars George Springer in 2011 (1st round, 11th pick), Carlos Correa in 2012 (1st round, 1st pick) and the man who recorded the final 12 outs in the decisive Game 7 of the ALCS, Lance McCullers Jr. (1st round supplemental, 42nd pick).

Nearing the end of their rebuilding process, Houston Astros centerfielder, George Springer was pictured on the June 30, 2014 cover of Sports Illustrated with the Astros referred to “Your 2017 World Series Champs.” (Via Sports Illustrated)

Houston rolled through the AL East division champion Boston Red Sox with ease, outscoring them 21-8 in their three victories.  The same could not be said about their ALCS opponent however, as the New York Yankees, who, after falling behind 0-2 in the series, won all three games in the Bronx, and actually sent the series back to Houston with a 3-2 series lead. Houston victories in both Game 6 and the winner-take-all Game 7 made this the first best-of-seven LCS in which the home team won every game.

The Astros prevailed due to two historic pitching performances by ALCS MVP Justin Verlander.  Verlander, whom they acquired just seconds before the August 31 deadline, twirled a masterful 16 innings of one-run ball, giving up 10 hits while striking out 21 and walking just two in Game 2 and Game 6 victories.  Houston’s offensive catalysts, MVP candidate Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, were neutralized in the three games at Yankee Stadium, going a combined 2-for-22 with six strikeouts, but shined brightest in the four games played in the lone star state, combining to go 15-for-30 with five extra-base hits, seven RBI and eight runs scored.

Game 1 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium will feature a pitching matchup of two former Cy Young Award winners. Los Angeles has given 3x winner Clayton Kershaw (18-4 2.31 ERA) the Game 1 nod, while Houston will counter with 2015 winner Dallas Keuchel (14-5 2.90 ERA).

 Game 2 will be a battle between crafty veteran Rich Hill (12-8 3.32 ERA) for the Dodgers and the old school “bulldog,” who also has a Cy Young Award and MVP honors under his belt in Justin Verlander (15-8 3.36 ERA).

 As the series shifts back to the “Juice Box,” Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Dodgers will send mid-season acquisition Yu Darvish (10-12 3.86 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will likely throw Lance McCullers Jr. (7-4 4.25 ERA) or Charlie Morton (14-7 3.62 ERA), who picked up the win in Game 7 of the ALCS.

The first pitch of  the 2017 World Series will be on Tuesday, October 24, at 8:09 p.m. EST.  The remainder of the FOX broadcast schedule is as follows:

Game 2- Wed, Oct 25, Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, 8:09 p.m. EST

Game 3- Fri, Oct 27, Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park, 8:09 p.m. EST

Game 4- Sat, Oct 28, Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park, 8:09 p.m. EST

Game 5 if necessary- Sun, Oct 29, Los Angeles Dodgers @ Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park, 8:16 p.m. EST

Game 6 if necessary- Tues, Oct 31, Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, 8:09 p.m. EST

Game 7 if necessary- Wed, Nov 1, Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, 8:10 p.m. EST

The official 2017 World Series logo. (Via sportslogos.net)