This will be the second time the Tampa Bay Rays have appeared in the Fall Classic. The last time they were here was in 2008. They lost in 5 games to the Philadelphia Phillies. An interesting fact about them is that 2008 was the first year they had changed their nickname from the Devil Rays to just the Rays. They have been a far more successful franchise since that nickname change. For the Los Angeles Dodgers this will be their third World Series appearance in the last four seasons. They lost to Houston and Boston in back-to-back appearances in 2017 and ’18 respectively. They are hoping to finally win another championship in their storied history which hasn’t happened since 1988.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
To understand how the Rays operate, you have to realize that they don’t deviate from their gameplan very often. The jest of it is get the lead and trust in the bullpen. It’s been hard to argue against that logic as it has gotten them to the World Series. They needed 5 games to eliminate the New York Yankees in the Division Series and almost blew a 3-0 series lead to the Houston Astros in the Championship Series. The bullpen will need to be at their best against a stacked Dodgers lineup. Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo have been the best arms all season, but showed signs of control issues late in the ALCS. John Curtiss and Pete Fairbanks stepped in at crucial parts of that series with Fairbanks getting the save in Game 7. Blake Snell walked as many batters (6) as he did strikeout (6) in his 2 starts against Houston. That can’t happen against LA. Tyler Glasnow will have to set the tone when he makes his start in Game 1. Charlie Morton was excellent with 11 strikeouts in 10-2/3 innings pitched and allowing only 7 hits in his 2 starts of the ALCS. The MVP of the ALCS was Randy Arozarena with a .321 AVG 4 HR 6 RBI stat line. Ji-Man Choi in the 5 games he played batted .385 and was a spark plug at times when they needed a big hit. Manuel Margot and Mike Zunino provided a needed boost with 5 HRs and 10 RBIs combined. If another bat comes alive i.e, Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe or Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays will be in good shape.
The Dodgers needed some big hits at big moments of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. They had to match their offense and were capable of doing that. Corey Seager was rightfully the NLCS MVP with a .310 AVG 5 HR 11 RBI stat line. He should be a threat going forward. Enrique Hernandez might not play regularly, but he hit two solo home runs including the game tying home run in Game 7 of the NLCS. Max Muncy has been the most patient hitter with 9 walks in the series, but also had 6 RBI. Cody Bellinger had the go-ahead home run in Game 7, but has struggled at the plate in the Postseason so far. His defense hasn’t been affected by that though. Mookie Betts had a rather quiet NLCS, but his defense did most of the talking in right field. There have been some peculiar decisions made by the Dodgers with their choice of starting pitchers at times, but one thing is for sure that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are to go-to guys. Kershaw will go in Game 1 with Buehler to follow. If Kershaw can avoid what happened in his last start of the NLCS, they’ll be in good shape. Buehler was outstanding in his 2 starts with 13 strikeouts and a 0.82 ERA. Kenley Jansen was perfect in his 3 games of the NLCS earning a save in Game 6. Julio Urias got 2 wins in both of his appearances and was the victor for Game 7. If LA can keep their starters out there for longer stretches it will maximize their bullpen’s strength for the later innings.
Rays in 7 games