Karpin: Why The Astros Will Beat The Dodgers

The Dodgers have been installed as the favorites in the 2017 World Series but don’t overlook the Astros.

There’s some history between these two teams from their days as National League competitors. In 1981, the Dodgers came from a 2-0 series deficit to beat Houston in five games in the NL West Divisional Playoff. In 1980, the Astros lost three straight to the Dodgers in Los Angeles to end the regular season and force a one game playoff for the NL West. That game (which counted as a regular season game) was also at Dodger Stadium but Houston won it 7-1 to win the division.

Coming into the post season, the Astros were never really tested. They came out of the gate flying and never looked back as they coasted to the AL West title. Their “day of reckoning” came in the final two games of the ALCS and they came out of it with flying colors as they rallied to beat the Yankees and win the series in seven games. That will serve Houston very well heading into the World Series.

The Dodgers were playing at a record setting pace until they hit a wall in late August when they lost 16 of 17 games. LA was fortunate that their worst streak of the season ended with about three weeks left in the regular season so they were able to regroup and win 12 of their last 17 games.

You don’t need those ridiculous position-by-position breakdowns to know that both are very good teams and both deserve to be in the “Fall Classic,” so what will decide this best-of-seven series.

Houston will need to duplicate what they did in the ALCS to beat the Yankees and that’s ride their starting pitching. The bullpen is suspect so Mgr A.J. Hinch knew he had to lean on his starters. In the four wins at home, the Astros’ bullpen pitched a total of four innings. In game seven, Hinch used two starters to get 27 outs.

The Dodgers’ offense compares favorably to the Yankees so that may help Houston with their preparation.

Like the Yankees, the Dodgers rely on the long ball. The home runs, walks, and strikeout totals of both teams are comparatively the same. The difference between the Astros and those two teams is that their offense results more from the good ol’ basic formula for scoring runs, getting a hit.

The Astros had 234 more hits than the Dodgers and scored 126 more runs. Part of that gap is offset by the fact that Houston now plays in the American League with the DH, but it’s still a significant number and will give the Dodgers a portent of what to expect out of the best line up that they’ve seen this season.

Houston’s top ranked offense came alive in games six and seven of the ALCS. The Astros can hit home runs but they do more than rely on the long ball. They don’t strikeout (league leaders in that category) and they work a pitcher as well as anyone, despite the fact they don’t get a whole lot of walks. (509, 10th in the league)

I expect the Astros pitchers to attack the Dodgers’ hitters with the same game plan that they used against the Yankees. Lots of off speed stuff, get them to chase, limit the walks and keep the ball in the ballpark. While they were losing 16 of 17 games, the Dodgers’ offense was nowhere to be found, so they’ve shown that can happen. All easier said than done of course. Los Angeles will need to get into the ‘Stros bullpen.

Look for the Dodgers to challenge the Astros’ catching duo of Brian McCann and Evan Gattis who are ranked the worst in the major leagues with a 12% success rate of throwing out runners.

This World Series is the opportunity that Clayton Kershaw has craved since he debuted in 2008 while closer Kenley Jansen gives the Dodgers a huge edge in the bullpen.

Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander provide a 1-2 punch that helps them match up with Kershaw who will likely match up against the Astros southpaw in game five as well as the opening game tonight. The Astros have had good career numbers against Yu Darvish so Dodgers Mgr. Dave Roberts is going with another left hander in Rich Hill in game two.

You can take it to the house that the Astros will not look like a “deer in headlights” in the games in Los Angeles. What happened in New York was an aberration. Houston was tied with Cleveland (neither team won a post season game in the Bronx) for the best road record in baseball during the regular season and I expect them to win one or even two games in California. Losing the DH won’t be such a detriment for Houston. The Dodgers were no slouches on the road either.

Both teams are solid defensively, both have a good bench and both feel like it’s their time.

It bodes well for a great World Series.

Astros in 7
MVP: Yuli Gurriel

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