The 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros starts Tuesday night in Los Angeles, starting off a best-of-seven series between the two teams that have proved themselves to be the best in baseball since the season began way back in April.
A combined 205 regular-season wins, six All-Stars each, the top run-scoring team (Houston) and the squad with the league's second-best team ERA (Los Angeles), there's simply no shortage of star power and few weaknesses in this World Series.
The Dodgers—a powerhouse for several years now thanks to a near-limitless reserve of cash and excellent player development—are in the World Series for the first time since 1988, looking to add a seventh title to their storied franchise history.
The Astros, just four years removed from a string of 100-loss seasons, are looking to capture their first-ever World Series crown. The last time Houston reached the World Series was back in 2005, when they were in the National League (the team switched to the American League in 2013).
Here's the complete schedule for the World Series so you don't miss a minute of action. All games will be televised on Fox. Live streaming is available at Fox Sports Go.
2017 World Series Schedule
Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 8:09 p.m. ET, Houston at Los Angeles
Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 8:09 p.m. ET, Houston at Los Angeles
Game 3: Friday, Oct. 26 at 8:09 p.m. ET, Los Angeles at Houston
Game 4: Saturday, Oct. 27 at 8:09 p.m. ET, Los Angeles at Houston
Game 5: Sunday, Oct. 28 at 8:16 p.m. ET, Los Angeles at Houston*
Game 6: Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 8:09 p.m. ET, Houston at Los Angeles*
Game 7: Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 8:10 p.m. ET, Houston at Los Angeles*
After stumbling to the finish line at the end of the regular season, the Dodgers were able to recalibrate and get back to world-beating form in the postseason. They dusted off the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks in three games and then soundly beat the defending-champion Chicago Cubs in five games.
The team has simply been all-around excellent. At the plate, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig have provided much of the offensive spark. Turner has three home runs and 12 RBI this postseason, including a walk-off blast in Game 2 of the NLCS. Taylor was named co-MVP of the National League Championship Series with Turner and has drawn seven walks in the playoffs to supplement his .281 average.
Puig, who has charmed much of the baseball-watching nation with his assortment of tongue wags, bat flips and even bat licks, has the highest batting average (.414) and on-base percentage (.514) of any player still in this postseason. Pretty good stuff from a guy who was demoted to Triple A last season.
The Dodgers will rely on the likes of Turner and Puig to continue their hot-hitting, while hoping Cody Bellinger can get in the mix more and Corey Seager is fully recovered from a back injury that kept him out of the NLCS.
The Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox in the divisional round before surviving seven games with the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. After hitting well against Boston, the bats went mostly quiet in the ALCS, though Houston was able to score 11 runs in the final two games to close out the series. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have been rock solid in the heart of the lineup, with 29 hits and 17 RBI between them this postseason.
They also make for a pretty slick double-play duo, per the Astros:
Houston Astros @astros
@TeamCJCorrea Smooooooth. #EarnHistory https://t.co/4iRqOSyMhg2017-10-21 00:21:23
The diminutive Altuve has been especially great at the plate, smashing five home runs and coming up big in clutch spots time after time. Houston manager A.J. Hinch knows Altuve is the heart and soul of his squad, per ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick:
"We talk about his size or his hit total or a lot of different parts of Altuve. The bottom line is, he's one of the best players in the whole game. He's on our team and he's one of our leaders, and he's grown up in front of these fans and his teammates. To get him on the national stage and lead this team to the World Series is some kind of special."
Altuve and Correa are going to need help to keep apace with the Dodgers. The likes of George Springer, Evan Gattis and Brian McCann will have to get their bats working again in a hurry.
The Dodgers will trot out Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 against Houston's Dallas Kuechel. For all his superhuman pitching performances during the regular season, Kershaw hasn't been much more than solid six-inning guy in this postseason, with a 3.63 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched.
Kershaw's late-inning struggles have been well-documented over the years, but there is hope yet he can turn in a vintage display on Tuesday. After all, he hasn't yet pitched in a World Series game.
Kuechel is 2-1 this postseason with a 2.60 ERA and a scorching 25 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched. Those numbers are devilishly good, but the Dodgers lineup figures to be his toughest test yet. They have proven to be extremely good at working deep counts and taking advantage of pitchers' mistakes. Keuchel isn't going to get a lot of easy outs on Tuesday.
Beyond that, the Dodgers turns to Rich Hill for Game 2 and Yu Darvish for Game 3, while the Astros will go with Justin Verlander in Game 2, per MLB.com. The 1-2 punch of Keuchel and Verlander has Houston in position to steal a game from Los Angeles, and with the likes of Lance McCullers filling out the rotation, they look to have a slight starting-pitching advantage in this series.
If the games are as tight as the two teams' resumes suggest they will be, the Dodgers do appear to have an advantage in the bullpen. Houston has seen shaky displays from its relievers, including closer Ken Giles, who has a 7.50 ERA. In Game 7 against the Yankees, the team went to McCullers for four innings of long relief, even though he had thrown six innings as a starter just four days prior.
The Dodgers have gotten consistently excellent work from Kenta Maeda and Brandon Morrow in middle relief, and closer Kenley Jansen could be the best weapon of any player remaining. In eight innings of work, Jansen has notched three saves, allowing just two hits and walking one while striking out 12.
Here he is turning the Cubs' bats to ash in Game 1 of the NLCS for a four-strikeout save:
There is an abundance of faith in the Curacaoan closer, per journalist Molly Knight and the Los Angeles Times' Andy McCullough:
Molly Knight @molly_knight
I would trust Kenley Jansen with my life, tbh.2017-10-18 04:39:08
Andy McCullough @McCulloughTimes
The ninth inning belongs to Kenley Jansen.2017-10-20 03:10:02
So, in a series between the two best teams in baseball, expect it to be decided by the margins. If Houston can scratch out a couple extra hits there, squeeze a few extra innings from its starters there, they can take this series.
If Los Angeles can keep the hot-hitting going, get a lead (any lead will do, it seems) and set the stage for Jansen, then the legendary franchise will get its seventh title.