Sheneman: Dodgers and Red Sox set for heavyweight battle

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This year’s World Series features two of baseball’s most historic franchises. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox will battle it out to crown this year’s champion.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts takes on the team that he once played for and has one of the biggest stolen bases in baseball history, one so big it’s even been titled “The Steal of the Century.” On the other side, Red Sox skipper Alex Cora will manage against the team that drafted him in 1996.

After losing game seven of the Fall Classic last year, the Dodgers are trying to reverse that outcome and erase a 30-year championship drought, while the Red Sox are trying to win their fourth title since 2004. With the firepower of the Boston lineup and their ability to play virtually any offensive style, I like the Sox in seven.

What I love about Boston from an offensive standpoint is they do more than just mash homers. If they want to steal bases they will. If they want to hit and run and play small ball they can. They will make contact and move runners up when needed. Guys like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. will put pressure on the LA defense with their base running ability. Then hitters J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and others can flex their muscle and supply the power.

From a Dodgers standpoint, I love the depth of their lineup. Los Angeles can bring guys off the bench that would start for most teams. Having that luxury to start and bring different guys into the game and not really lose much quality of play, if any, is huge. The Dodgers are great at hitting the long ball and wearing pitchers down, as they finished second this season in home runs with 235. It will be interesting to see if their hitters can take advantage of the Green Monster. Defensively, they have a handful of players that can play multiple spots in the field. Players like Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger and Enrique “Kike” Hernandez can be put in a variety of positions. The versatility is a huge advantage for Dave Roberts’ team.

The Los Angeles bullpen seems to be in better shape than Boston’s. Dave Roberts has numerous pitchers that he’s leaned on to get to their closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen hasn’t been his dominant self this year, but he is getting back to form at the right time. If there’s one part of this team that the Dodgers can exploit, it’s the Red Sox bullpen. This has been one spot all year that teams have felt they could take advantage of. The path to getting to closer Craig Kimbrel hasn’t necessarily been the same each game. Cora has dipped into using some of his starters at times out of the pen. Kimbrel has also been a bit shaky this post-season. He’s given up five runs in 6 1/3 innings pitched. 

A big issue for me with LA is they can go cold at any point because of their hit-or-miss type of lineup, with “hit” being a home run. We saw it a lot in the Milwaukee series, as the three games they dropped only brought in seven total runs. 

My two biggest x-factors in this series are Boston starting pitcher Chris Sale and Los Angeles stud Cody Bellinger.

Sale has battled injuries this year and has needed to slowly work his way back to being the ace that he is, which he proved in the series against the Yankees. 

Bellinger has the ability to get hot and carry this Dodgers lineup. He’s had a rough postseason but found a way to get a couple of huge hits in the NLCS, which could serve as a sign of Bellinger getting in rhythm and being a huge problem for the Red Sox. This not only helps him, but the guys batting around him. 

Boston and Los Angeles have an opportunity to make this one of the most historic series’ the MLB will ever see.

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