Wed, 02 Dec 2020

Dodgers early favorites over Rays in Fall Classic

Field Level Media
19 Oct 2020, 17:19 GMT+10

With Los Angeles' 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, the matchup is finally set for the 2020 World Series, with the Dodgers taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in the best-of-seven series, beginning Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.

The games will be played at a neutral site, in front of about 11,000 fans at Globe Life Field, with Los Angeles, thanks to its better regular-season record, as the home team for Games 1 and 2, and then 6 and 7 if it goes that far.

Los Angeles is opening as the betting favorite, with FanDuel listing the Dodgers as -210 and the Rays 165. DraftKings also favors the Dodgers (-200) over the Rays (160).

The Dodgers (43-17) and Rays (40-20) have been on a crash course to meet in the Fall Classic after finishing as the only two teams to reach 40 victories during the regular season, topping the National and American leagues, respectively.

"From the moment that we were able to put a season together, once they figured out the COVID thing, everybody was expecting us to get to the World Series," said Enrique Hernandez, who belted a game-tying pinch-hit homer for the Dodgers in the sixth inning Sunday. "We were expecting us to get to the World Series."

Still, it's just the fourth time since the postseason expanded to eight teams in 1995 that the teams with the best record in each league meet in the World Series.

But it took seven games in the Championship Series for each to earn a coveted spot in the Series. The Dodgers came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Braves in the NLCS while the Rays held off the surging Houston Astros, culminating with Saturday's 4-2 Game 7 win to take the ALCS.

This will be Los Angeles' third World Series appearance in four years and its 12th since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. But the Dodgers haven't won since 1988 after coming up short in seven games to the Astros in 2017 and five games to the Boston Red Sox in 2018.

The Rays, on the other hand, are in the Fall Classic for just the second time in their history after losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games in 2008. They are one of six franchises (Colorado, Milwaukee, Texas, San Diego and Seattle) still seeking their first World Series title.

The matchup pits the dominant pitching staff of the Rays, led by the ace trio of Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton, against the quick-strike explosive bats of the Dodgers, who led MLB with 118 homers during the regular season and added 18 more during the postseason.

Sixteen of those playoff homers came in the NLCS against the Braves, equaling the 2008 Rays for the most in a single series in MLB playoff history.

Still, the Rays, who batted just .238 during the season and ranked 14th in the majors with 80 homers, come into the Series with more playoff long-balls after belting 25 in 14 games.

The power surge came in large part thanks to the emergence of rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena, who was tabbed as the ALCS MVP after hitting seven home runs during the playoffs and four in the championship series, including a two-run blast in Game 7 against Houston.

"Every night we have a different hero," said Rays outfielder Austin Meadows. "Except for Randy Arozarena. He's a hero every night."

While the Rays may not have too many recognizable faces, the Dodgers are loaded with star power up and down their offensive lineup, headlined by Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, who won NLCS MVP honors after hitting .310 with five homers and 11 RBIs in the seven-game series. The pitching staff is led by veterans Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.

"We are going to be tough to beat, for sure," said Betts.

--Field Level Media

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