World Series 2020: Bold Predictions for Rays vs. Dodgers Showdown

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 19, 2020

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias throws against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning in Game 7 of a baseball National League Championship Series Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers have two incredible arms in Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler leading their pitching staff, but neither may be as dominant as their potential World Series X-factor.

Julio Urias is one of the most experienced postseason pitchers on the Dodgers roster at just 24, and he could be one of the reasons why the National League side ends its World Series drought that dates back to 1988.

Urias finished off the National League Championship Series in a relief role Sunday and could be used as a starter or reliever against the Tampa Bay Rays. 

Tampa Bay may not score in bunches, but it proved in the American League Championship Series that it is suited to win close games. 

If most Fall Classic games result in pitching duels, the Rays may need one or two clutch hits to earn victories. Randy Arozarena is the obvious candidate to break games open, but Manuel Margot may be the better rally starter from his position in the order. 


Bold Predictions for World Series

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Julio Urias Is L.A.'s Most Dominant Pitcher

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Urias possesses a 0.56 ERA and 16 strikeouts in his four playoff outings this season. 

The left-hander's latest masterpiece came in the final three innings of NLCS Game 7, when he retired all nine Atlanta batters he faced. Over four postseasons, Urias has a 2.84 ERA and struck out six more batters than hits conceded. 

The 24-year-old may not be in the game as long as Kershaw or Buehler, but he could be as dominant as those two starters. 

Urias is a candidate to either come out of the bullpen, or he could start Games 2 or 4 if Buehler starts on full rest in Game 3. 

The Mexican thrived in both roles over three rounds. He struck out five batters and conceded one earned run in a NLCS Game 3 start and has not allowed an earned run from the bullpen. 

Urias may be more effective out of the bullpen in lefty vs. lefty matchups. If the Dodgers start Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin, Urias could follow them by shutting down the likes of Brandon Lowe and Austin Meadows. 

Meadows' batting average is 21 points worse against southpaws in his career, and most of Lowe's splits against lefties are worse than versus right-handed hurlers. His dip in batting average is 25 points. 

If Urias takes away two of Tampa Bay's bats in the top half of the order, the AL champion could have difficulties producing a ton of runs.


Manuel Margot Continues to Step Up for Rays

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Margot provided the Rays with some much-needed support for Arozarena by going 6-for-23 with three home runs and six RBI in the ALCS. 

The run support was needed since parts of the Tampa Bay order struggled to find consistency at the plate against Houston. Meadows and Lowe combined to go 6-for-48 with one home run and one RBI. Willy Adames, Yandy Diaz and Kevin Kiermaier only produced two hits each over seven games. 

It could be up to the AL champion's top hitters to achieve success inside Globe Life Field. 

Margot could be vital to the Rays' success if he packs some power or reaches base from the bottom half of the order. 

That could allow the Rays to flip over the lineup and give Arozarena opportunities to drive in multiple runs with his red-hot bat. The ALCS MVP had nine hits versus the Astros, four of which were home runs. 

Tampa may get support from one or two other batters, but for now, it has to rely on its top performers from the ALCS in an attempt to kick off the Fall Classic on the right note.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.