Here we go.
After 60 regular-season games followed by some wild playoff action including a double-dose of Championship Series Game 7s, we arrive at the 2020 World Series.
Not only did these two teams fight to get here, but they deserve every bit of getting this far as both teams boasted the best regular-season records from their respective leagues. In a truncated season that could have been disastrous for the favorites and advantageous to the seeming non-contenders, it’s fitting and comfortable knowing that the two teams in the 2020 Fall Classic have every single right to be here.
With that in mind, let’s get into it and seem who can take Game 1 of the World Series as it’s the Rays vs. Dodgers from Globe Life Field in Arlington!
Rays vs. Dodgers Betting Odds
- Rays (+150)
- Dodgers (-163)
- Rays +1.5 (-147)
- Dodgers -1.5 (+127)
- Over 7.5 (-104)
- Under 7.5 (-116)
Rays vs. Dodgers World Series Game 1 Breakdown
The Rays will send right-hander Tyler Glasnow to the bump to kick off the World Series as Glasnow is coming off some substandard work this postseason.
In his lone start and appearance in the ALCS against the Astros, Glasnow was touched up for four runs in his six innings of work while allowing eight hits and a pair of walks. Most concerning is the home run issues that continue to rear their head as Glasnow allowed two homers in that Game 4 outing in which the Rays dropped 4-3 with a chance to sweep.
Glasnow allowed another four runs across 7.1 innings against the Yankees in the ALDS, and while that’s not so bad against the unforgiving Yankees offense, he still allowed two more home runs in that time and walked five. He’s allowed two home runs in two of his three starts in these playoffs.
All told, over his last three starts spanning 13.1 innings, Glasnow has posted a 5.50 ERA and 2.75 HR/9 along with a 4.81 BB/9 rate.
Glasnow’s regular-season work included a 4.08 ERA, but also a 3.66 FIP and a 2.75 xFIP that ranked among the best in baseball. Among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, Glasnow’s 14.28 K/9 was the best mark in the big leagues.
Another factor to keep an eye on here is the nine stolen bases he allowed in his 57.1 innings this season, a number that extrapolates to a whopping 28 if he threw a normal starter’s workload of 180 innings. The Dodgers certainly have some speed in their lineup, and while he’s yet to allow a steal in 19.1 postseason frames, it’s nonetheless something to keep an eye on.
The Dodgers will go with future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw for tonight’s Game 1 start in hopes he too can bounce back from a couple of tough outings.
In his lone start against the Braves in the NLCS, Kershaw surrendered four runs in five innings while allowing seven hits – including a homer – in that time. In his NLDS start with the Padres, Kershaw looked strong towards the end of his six-inning outing before Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer launched back-to-back solo home runs off of him while he completed six innings while allowing three runs and six hits – including those two homers – in that start.
Add it up and Kershaw owns a 5.73 ERA and 2.45 HR/9 across his last two outings. Now, many will points to his postseason ERA of 4.31 and say he doesn’t show up when it matters most. I would argue he doesn’t show up on the road when it matters most come playoff time.
Kershaw hurled eight shutout innings with 13 strikeouts over the Brewers to punch the Dodgers’ ticket to the NLDS, but that outing came at Dodger Stadium. In two starts in Arlington, he owns that 5.73 ERA. In 2018, he did something similar by hurling eight shutout against the Braves at home in the NLDS, but was shelled in a start at Milwaukee in the NLCS and again in Game 1 of the World Series in Boston. He just doesn’t seem to pitch well on the road in the playoffs.
He enjoyed an excellent regular season in which he pitched to a 2.16 ERA with a 7.75 K/BB ratio that ranked second in the National League among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched, but we simply don’t know what to expect from postseason Kershaw, especially on the road.
Runs can sometimes come at a premium in the postseason, and that seemed to be the case for the Rays ever since exploding for 15 runs across Games 2 and 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees.
In the nine games since, the Rays have scored just 26 runs, good for 2.89 runs per game. They haven’t scored more than four runs in a game over their last four and have done so just one time over their last nine.
For what it’s worth in this scenario, they did fare notably better against left-handed pitchers in the regular season.
They were largely a middle-of-the-pack offense against righties, but ranked sixth with a .343 wOBA in the regular season versus left-handed pitching while their .217 ISO off them checked in at fourth.
The Dodgers will likely be focussed on keeping breakout star and ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena in check after he posted a 1.212 OPS so far in these playoffs and homered four times in the Rays’ seven-game triumph over the Astros.
Lefty-masher Mike Brosseau and his OPS north of 1.100 off lefties this season will be a threat against Kershaw as well while Manuel Margot has all the sudden turned into a threat at the plate in these playoffs as well.
While the Rays have certainly had their strikeout woes versus lefties with a league-worst 28.5% K-rate against them in the regular season, they also posted a second-ranked 11.7% walk rate, so Kershaw will need to keep his low-walk ways going in order to limit damage in this one.
Of course we know the Dodgers can rake. In fact, only the Braves handled right-handed pitching better than the Dodgers this season as L.A. checked in at second with a .355 wOBA versus righties this season.
That said, I think the matchup with Glasnow works very well for the Dodgers in this one.
As noted, Glasnow has endured home run issues this season and especially in these playoffs. Therefore it’s not a great sign for him that the Dodgers’ .240 ISO versus righties this season led all of baseball. Their 91 home runs against righties this season was also the best mark in baseball, as was their 118 home runs overall.
Glasnow’s biggest asset is his strikeout ability with that enormous regular-season 14.28 K/9. However, the Dodgers could very well mitigate that factor by way of their second-ranked 20.2% K-rate versus righties this season.
Finally, Glasnow owns a 4.81 BB/9 over his last two starts, and the Dodgers’ 9.4% walk rate ranked in the top-half of the league.
No disrespect to Glasnow who is certainly one of the better and nastier pitchers in baseball, but it appears to me this Dodgers lineup matches up quite well against him, as they do with many other pitchers around baseball.
Of course, we can expect to see plenty of the Rays’ bullpen in this series but I believe we’ll see a big chunk of them tonight.
The Dodgers’ low-strikeout rates, solid walk rates and ability to get on base and play long ball doesn’t exactly bode well for a deep outing from Glasnow. He did go six innings against another low-strikeout offense against the Astros his last time out, but it’s going to be tough to matchup that mark in this one.
The Rays’ bullpen was once again one of the better groups in baseball this season with mostly top-five numbers across the board, and they’ve been similarly dominant in these playoffs.
They had some issues while allowing the Astros to nearly storm back from a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS, but it’s still a stable of hard-throwing arms in that bullpen, as manager Kevin Cash would put it.
The Rays have relied on the likes of Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks in high-leverage situations in these playoffs while Shane McClanahan and Josh Fleming have seemingly been the go-to lefties although Aaron Loup was used quite a bit in the ALCS with Houston.
It will once again be fascinating to see this bullpen matchup with an elite offense as it was in the ALDS with the Yankees and down the stretch with Houston, but Cash’s men have long been up to the challenge this season and beyond.
It’s a matchup of two elite bullpens in this one as the Dodgers quite simply had one of the very best groups in baseball this season.
Like the Rays, the Dodgers posted numbers that ranked among the league’s best across the board thanks to a bullpen that sports so much depth it’s embarrassing.
The Dodgers had nine relievers in the regular season work to an ERA of 3.66 or better and the fact that closer Kenley Jansen’s ERA was the second-worst in that group tells us that these guys were dominant. Jake McGee, Victor Gonzalez and Adam Kolarek were elite from the left side and let’s not forget Julio Urias’ three perfect NLCS Game 7 innings to seal the Dodgers’ ticket to the World Series.
From the right, Jansen is joined by emphatic flame-throwing youngster Brusdar Graterol who seems to throw 100 with ease. Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen will see plenty of work while Pedro Baez is set up for some middle-relief duties.
Like with Tampa, you’re simply going to see the Dodgers trot out dominant arm after dominant arm, although results can certainly vary this time of the year.
Rays vs. Dodgers World Series Game 1 Pick
You really have to bare down when handicapping postseason games as there’s always a case to be made for a variety of directions.
You’re constantly dealing with premium pitching, offenses and for the most part, dominant bullpens as well.
That said, I’m comfortable with the over 7.5 in this one, and I’m basing that pick on the starting pitching and opposing offense.
I don’t like Glasnow in this matchup. The Dodgers handle most all righties to begin with, but Glasnow’s home run issues do not line up well with the most powerful offense versus righties baseball has to offer. His high-strikeout ways could also be wiped out by the fact that the Dodgers just don’t strikeout that much. Something has to give in that department to be sure.
I also just don’t trust Kershaw on the road. Had the Dodgers gotten their home-field advantage at Dodger Stadium, to me that’s a different story. However, history tells us, plan and simple, that he largely does not perform well on the road this time of the year. It’s not impossible that he fares well tonight, but more often than not he’s delivered poor results in these scenarios, and the Rays can smash left-handed pitching as per their regular-season results.
It will be tough to get to these bullpens, but certainly not out of the question. The Dodgers were the second-best overall offense in baseball and the Rays came in at 13th. Both hit for power and we’ve seen a fair bit of the long ball in these playoffs.
At the end of the day, I’ll actually look for the over to hit sooner than later as I expect these offenses to jump on these starters early this evening.