- The Dodgers are back in the World Series for the second consecutive season. Here's how an opposing scout sizes them up as Game 1 approaches.
Appearing in their second consecutive World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most complete teams in Major League Baseball. But after missing out on their first title in 30 years in 2017, will they be able to finally return to glory? A rival scout broke down what the Dodgers do well and what they don't ahead of their World Series matchup against the Red Sox.
Just watching the Dodgers this year I was really impressed with their at-bats. It’s a very patient team, they walk a lot, they wait for good pitches to hit and they have great power. They’ve got switch hitters, they have lefthanded hitters, they have righthanded hitters. The Dodgers led the league in walks and were near the top in homers. It’s an odd and scary mix for a team to have so much patience and hit homers so well.
Manny Machado was a really great fit for this team. He’s had good at-bats and fits in the middle of their lineup. He’s not the most patient guy but he’s a really good hitter with great power. He’s one of the most talented players in the game. … Justin Turner has a huge influence in that team, I think I saw him have 30 straight at-bats and not one bad one. … The Dodgers learned from that series not to be so matchup oriented. Just keep Cody Bellinger in the lineup and don’t start him on the bench. The guys that are there, Machado, Bellinger, Turner and [Chris] Taylor, are going to be there. [Manager Dave] Roberts will do plenty of mixing and matching, but there won’t be as much as there was in Milwaukee because Boston has four clear starting pitchers. … I love their platoon between David Freese and Max Muncy. Freese gives you a great at-bat against lefties and stays in the middle of the field. Muncy works the count and makes the pitcher work to throw strikes. … Yasiel Puig is huge for this lineup. He brings energy, power and speed. When he first came in the league he was a free swinger and a hacker. Now, he has the most playoff games played in Dodger history and he’s learned from that. The team really thrives off of his energy. There’s no doubt he’s a player I want on my team, you just hope he doesn’t run into an out or overthrow the cutoff man. … The defense can be a bit shaky sometimes. Bellinger’s routes in centerfield aren’t the greatest but he’s athletic. Turner is solid. Machado can make some errors but they are athletic. ... The Dodgers don’t have a ton of experience playing in that Fenway outfield. Bellinger is one of the most athletic players in baseball, but his instincts have a ways to go. Being able to outrun the ball in that outfield is not enough.
The Starting Pitchers
I think the starting pitching matches up with the Red Sox. I was surprised Hyun-jin Ryu struggled a bit against Milwaukee because he’s so tough with his pitch mix. He's really crafty. … If Clayton Kershaw throws the way he threw in Game 5, Boston is going to be in trouble. He looks like he has his stuff back to where it was. Just look at the Game 5 tape. His stuff was late, it was crisp and Milwaukee couldn’t put good swings on his stuff … Walker Buehler and [the Rays’ Blake] Snell have the best pure stuff in the league. His stuff is just tremendous. He’ll be fine in this series … Rich Hill is kind of a five-and-dive guy. They want him to get through the lineup twice and then he’ll probably get a quick hook. He still can keep you off-balance with that big curveball of his. … Buehler and Ryu are gonna be fine, even if they struggled at points against Milwaukee. It’s gonna be all on Kershaw.
This is a team that could afford to send Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda to the bullpen to help bridge the gap to [closer] Kenley Jansen. Add in the way Ryan Madson has been throwing lately, and he can be the bridge to Jansen too. This is a good team, there’s not a lot of weaknesses. They have some good matchup guys like Dylan Floro and Caleb Ferguson. They can right-left you and Jansen will be available for two innings of work if the others struggle. … Pedro Baez is the Human Rain Delay out there but, man, he’s got swing-and-miss stuff. He’s been great. Madson is throwing 98 all of a sudden and he’s throwing great. He’s been a key guy and has World Series experience and he can get righties and lefties out. … Jansen struggled a bit earlier in the season, but the way he’s been closing lately, they’ll be fine with him in the ninth.
Management gives Dave Roberts the matchups he wants and he’s been consistent. The players don’t say they’re frustrated, which is impressive given their depth. Guys like Muncy and Bellinger want to be playing every day and Roberts does a good job managing that and keeping that in-house. … It seems like everything is kind of scripted with him. With Cora, there’s a little more gut there when making decisions. … They just don’t seem to ride the hot hand, it’s very scripted as was shown in the Milwaukee series, but they have a better team this year.
They’re just so impressive and there aren’t a lot of weaknesses outside of some minor issues on defense. If Kershaw pitches well, they are going to win. If he doesn't, they're going to lose. You hate to see so much pressure put on him again, but he really will be the difference. I like them in this series, but it’ll go seven games.