The near-unanimous opinion is that Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has been baseball's best starting pitcher in the past decade. That may be true in the regular season, but the postseason has been another matter.
Kershaw is getting the ball in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night when his Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 8:08 p.m. ET, the two teams with the best records in baseball this year. And the elephant in the room is this;
Which Kershaw will we get?
His resume is exceptional, and the only thing lacking is a World Series ring. He's certainly the center of attention Tuesday night because he hasn't been very good in his last two starts, and got shelled in Game 4 of the NLCS, losing 10-2 to the Altanta Braves to put them in a 3-1 hole.
Thankfully the Dodgers won three straight to take the series, and now they hope to strike first in the Series, their third in four years. They lost to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018.
"I think every year is different. Obviously, postseason you have that experience to draw on, so just trying to learn from that as best you can," Kershaw said Monday. "But at the same time, every year is different, every team is different. The Rays are a different team than the Astros and the Red Sox. So I'm going to prepare like I always do and be as ready as I can be and excited about another opportunity to get it done."
Kershaw is 175-76 in the regular season since making his debut with the Dodgers in 2008. But in the postseason, he's just 11-12 with a 4.73 ERA. Something's got to give as the Dodgers chase their first World Series title since 1988.
That's 10 years before the Rays were even born. An American League expansion team in 1998, they are appearing in their second World Series. They lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008.
They'll start Tyler Glasnow in Game 1, and he just might be the best pitcher to keep this Los Angeles lineup in check. He's the lesser know guy in the trio of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, but he might have the best stuff.
"It's unbelievable. I grew up watching him pitch," Glasnow said of the matchup with Kershaw.
He also gets to start of full rest. The bullpen, probably the best in baseball, is on full rest too since the Rays had Sunday and Monday off. Pitching, as always should be at a premium in this series.
The Dodgers have won the World Series six times, and have 24 National League pennants, According to DraftKings, they are minus-210 to win the series, meaning you need to bet $210 to win $100. They Rays are a plus-165 underdog, meaning if you bet $100, you win $165.
In Game 1, the Dodgers are minus-180, and the Rays are plus-150.
The Rays did some shuffling on their 28-man roster, and former Indiana pitcher Aaron Slegers was the odd man out. He'll miss the World Series because the Rays didn't feel he'd get the call much against their left-handed hitting lineup. Plus, the two days off this series gives the bullpen arms extra time to rest. Lefty Ryan Sherriff was added to the roster instead.
That's a tough break for Slegers, though. He was great in the ALCS, pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
World Series Schedule
All games at Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, Texas. (TV: FOX)
- Game 1, Tuesday (Oct. 20), 8:08 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay has sound starting pitching that goes three deep, but right-hander Tyler Glasnow might have the best stuff of all of them. Glasnow was 5-1 with a 4.08 ERA in the regular season, and came back on short rest to pitch in Game 5 when Tampa Bay beat the New York Yankees in a deciding game. In the playoffs, he's given up 10 runs in 19 innings, but this is his first time pitching on full rest in two weeks. The Dodgers turns to ace Clayton Kershaw, who's been baseball's most dominant pitcher in the regular season in the past decade but has has well-documented troubles in the postseason. He's been battling back issues and has only made three starts thus far in the playoffs. He was great against the Brewers, but so-so at best against the Padres and Dodgers.
- Game 2, Wednesday (Oct. 21), 8:08 p.m. ET: Blake Snell, who's been the Game 1 starter in the first three series, will be on full four days' rest for this one. This will be an interesting call for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. No announcement has been made on a Game 2 starter yet, partly because its seems like he doesn't want to go with Walker Buehler on three days' rest.
- Off day on Thursday (Oct. 22).
- Game 3, Friday (Oct. 23) 8:08 p.m. ET: Postseason hero Charlie Morton would be lined up to start this game on five days' rest for Tampa Bay. For now, it's a complete guess who Roberts goes with here, but the lean would be to Buehler or Julio Urias, who pitched three innings on Sunday and would be going on full rest.
- Game 4, Saturday (Oct. 24) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Game 5, Sunday (Oct. 25) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Off day on Monday (Oct. 26)
- Game 6: Tuesday (Oct. 27) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Game 7: Wednesday (Oct. 28), 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.