The Boston Red Sox won 108 games during the regular season, but insiders throughout Major League Baseball thought they could be vulnerable against the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series and the Houston Astros in the league's championship series.
The theory was that the Yankees had the power in their batting order and dominance in their bullpen to overtake them in a best-of-five series, while many thought the Astros were simply a better team from top to bottom and would have the edge in a seven-game series.
While Boston showed some vulnerability when playing at home in both series—they were just 1-1 after two games at Fenway Park against the Bombers and the Astros—they have dominated on the road.
The Red Sox set the tone for their road success with a 16-1 victory at Yankee Stadium in Game 3 of the ALDS and clinched the series the next night. The Sox went into Minute Maid Park and swept three games against the defending World Series champions.
As a result of those triumphs, the Red Sox are favored to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. Los Angeles earned its way into the World Series for a second consecutive year after beating the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers clinched the pennant with a win in front of the Brewers' loud and supportive fans in Milwaukee. The veteran Los Angeles team is not going to be intimidated because they will have to play on the road.
World Series Schedule
Tuesday, October 23 (Game 1): Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox, 8:09 p.m. ET
Wednesday, October 24 (Game 2): Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox, 8:09 p.m. ET
Friday, October 26 (Game 3): Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers, 8:09 p.m. ET
Saturday, October 27 (Game 4): Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers, 8:09 p.m. ET
Sunday, October 28 (Game 5, if necessary): Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers, 8:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, October 30 (Game 6, if necessary): Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox, 8:09 p.m. ET
Wednesday, October 31 (Game 7, if necessary): Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox, 8:09 p.m. ET
All World Series games will be televised by Fox.
The Red Sox are -136 favorites to win the 2018 World Series, while the Dodgers are +112 underdogs, per OddsShark. Boston backers have to risk $136 to win $100, while Los Angeles supporters will up $100 to win $112.
The Dodgers have demonstrated their toughness and resiliency in each of the last two years. They dethroned the then-defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the 2017 NLCS before extending the Astros to seven games in last year's Fall Classic.
The Brewers appeared to have momentum in this year's NLCS after tying the series with a win in Game 6 at home, but the Dodgers brushed that aside and beat the home team in Game 7.
The Dodgers will hit the long ball. They have seven players who hit 21 home runs or more, led by Max Muncy, who bashed 35 home runs.
They also have a solid starting pitching rotation led by Clayton Kershaw, who may be the best pitcher of his generation. Closer Kenley Jansen also appears to be near the top of his game and will be difficult to beat if the Dodgers have the lead in the last inning.
The Red Sox were the most prolific offense in baseball during the regular season, and they have continued to dominate games with their strength up and down the lineup.
Headliners Mookie Betts (32 home runs, 30 stolen bases) and J.D. Martinez (43 home runs, 130 runs batted in) are both capable of carrying the team, and Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi can deliver big hits if Betts and Martinez suffer any slow down.
It doesn't stop there, as Brock Holt, Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. have all demonstrated their propensity for delivering big postseason hits.
Bradley was so good at it that he ended up winning the ALCS MVP because he drove in nine runs with a bases-loaded double, a grand slam and a two-run homer.
The Red Sox have a strong pitching staff, and Chris Sale will get the start in Game 1. He was slowed in the second half of the season with shoulder issues, but he was in excellent form in Game 1 against the Yankees. While he struggled in the ALCS opener against Houston, he should be much stronger against Los Angeles.
Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and David Price have all been effective starting, and the maligned Boston bullpen has been strong—with one exception.
Craig Kimbrel, Boston's top reliever during the regular season, has struggled in the postseason. While he has five saves in five opportunities, he has a 7.11 earned-run average, a 1.89 WHIP and opponents are hitting .261 against him.
He was much better in the clinching Game 5 against the Astros when he retired three of four batters in the ninth inning, but Kimbrel has not been lockdown.
That may be the only Red Sox weakness. If the Dodgers can't keep it close through seven or eight innings, it may not matter.
We have great respect for Kershaw and what he has been able to accomplish throughout his career. When he has been at his best, he has shown that he deserves to be included with the all-time greats.
That has rarely been the case in the postseason, but he has done better in the last two years. Kershaw is the likely starter in Game 1, and he could slow down the Red Sox lineup. If Sale has problems with the Dodgers, the Dodgers could win Game 1.
However, the Red Sox are too consistent to lose any other game. From this corner, it looks like Boston wins the World Series in five games.