Dodgers vs rays
Photo Credit: MLB

New MLB World Series Preview: Dodgers vs. Rays – 2020 World Series

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Los Angeles Dodgers (9-3)  |  Tampa Bay Rays (9-5)

 

The 116th World Series is set to start with Game 1 on Tuesday, Oct. 20th at Globe Life Field in Arlington. A potential Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28. 

 

 

Dodgers vs Rays
Photo Credit Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Rays were the American League’s No. 1 seed, and they were able to survive the first three rounds of the MLB playoffs. The Dodgers were the National League’s top seed, and they too are in the World Series after an epic comeback in the NLCS. Major League Baseball’s two best teams in 2020, the top seed in each league, facing off in The Fall Classic, is just the way MLB intended them to do.

The Dodgers and Rays are built very differently in terms of the payscale, being at opposite ends. The Dodgers’ payroll is $107 million and pays Mookie Betts more than the entire Rays’ payroll ($28 million). But both teams have great farm systems and have pulled off trades that have benefited them on their journey to where they are today.

Let’s preview each position and see who has the advantage in this series.

 

Tail of the tape:

 

Catchers

 

Dodgers vs Rays
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

The catchers in this series are the easiest to break down, and the Dodgers have a huge advantage. Will Smith is a star in the making and is, by far, the best of both teams. Austin Barnes will catch Clayton Kershaw when he pitches, and Smith will DH. “The Fresh Prince of Chavez Ravine” has an excellent eye at the plate and makes solid contact. He has come up clutch for LA and has the power to change a game. Barnes is better defensively than Smith, who is above average there but isn’t the hitter that Smith is.

The Rays also use a duo behind the plate. Mike Zunino and Michael Perez did not have good hitting seasons, and the Rays catchers as a whole were one of the weakest groups in all of baseball. Zunino strikes out a lot, but he’s still dangerous enough that he’s homered four times so far in the 2020 postseason, including one in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

First Basemen

The Dodgers’ Max Muncy didn’t have a great regular season, but his bat came alive in the NLCS, smacking two homers, walking nine times, and adding four extra-base hits. The Dodgers also have the luxury of putting Cody Bellinger at first base if they need to.

The Rays will platoon of lefty Ji-Man Choi and righty Yandy Díaz. Díaz has played the position more this postseason than he did in the regular season, but Choi has hit better in the postseason; Díaz has not hit at all.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

Second Basemen

Chris Taylor had a decent regular season, but he isn’t a standout. His at-bats are frustrating since he swings for the fences all the time and strikes out a ton. When Taylor moves to left field, you will see Enrique Hernández here. KiKi is an excellent defensive player and has a knack for coming up big in clutch situations. But overall, second base is the Dodgers’ weakest position on the team.

Brandon Lowe had a great regular season, but he hasn’t been as fortunate this postseason (.115/.193/.173), although he did have a game-tying home run in Game 6 of the ALCSMichael Brosseau may get some time here, which gives the Rays a nice lefty/righty platoon option.

Advantage: Even

 

Third Basemen

 

Dodgers vs Rays
Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Rays will use a combination of Joey Wendle, Brosseau, and Díaz. The trio hit well in the regular season (.296/.379/.448 combined), and each of the three had standout defensive moments as well.

But the Dodgers have their captain, Justin Turner, who has been everything and more to Los Angeles. While he has taken a bit of a step back defensively, Turner continues to rake.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

Short Stops

The Rays’ Willy Adames was absolutely everywhere in the ALCS field, but he hasn’t hit. The Rays don’t usually expect him to be an offensive threat as long as he plays excellent defense, but they will need his offense against the Dodgers.

NLCS MVP Corey Seager just pounded five homers in that series to go along with 11 RBI’s. He hit the cover off the ball in the regular season and has been an elite defensive player all season.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

Outfielders

Dodgers vs Rays
Photo Credit: Keith Law

From left to right, the Rays will have Randy Arozarena (7 postseason home runs), Kevin Kiermaier (multiple time Gold Glove winner), and Manuel Margot in their outfield. Arozarena and Margot are bigger offensive threats than Kiermaier, but the center fielder is arguably the best defensive player in the game at the position. Austin Meadows will see some time in the outfield as well.

For the Dodgers, left field will again be a platoon position by Joc Pederson, AJ Pollock, and Chris Taylor. But Bellinger patrols centerfield, and arguably the best player in baseball, Mookie Betts is in right. Bellinger and Betts are MVP’s and elite defensive players, as you saw in the NLCS. They can cover as much ground as any outfield in baseball history and can take over a series with their bats or gloves.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

DH’s

The Rays will use Arozarena against lefties and Meadows against right-hand pitching. The Dodgers will go with Pederson, Smith, or Edwin Rios.

Advantage: Dodgers

 

Pitching breakdown:

 

Starters

 

Dodgers vs Rays
Photo Credit: Eric Gay/AP

Blake Snell won the AL Cy Young Award two years ago, and now he’s the third-best pitcher the Rays have due to injury and inconsistency over the last two years. It is also due to how good Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton have been. The Rays also have Ryan Yarbrough, ready to go if need be.

We all know Clayton Kershaw’s postseason history here, so I won’t get into his lack of success. Walker Buehler is actually the better pitcher right now, but he won’t pitch until Game 3 and Game 7. The Dodgers also have flame-throwing Dustin MayTony Gonsolin, and the pitcher who has been the Dodgers best this postseason in Julio Urias.

Advantage: Rays

 

Bullpen

The Rays had the third-best regular-season bullpen ERA, and the Dodgers were second best, but this is the postseason, so we can throw those out the window. What the Rays do have are relievers who have an endless assortment of looks and arm angles for the Dodgers to figure out, and they also allow Tampa to adjust to any situation or matchup.

On the other hand, the Dodgers have been inconsistent in the postseason and, until the NLCS’s final three games, seemed lost. Is Kenley Jansen back? If so, that changes things, but we are not sure until Dave Roberts puts him in a high-pressure situation.

Advantage: Rays

 

All the games can be seen on Fox. Here is the schedule for the 2020 World Series.

 

 

Tuesday, Oct. 20 – Game 1 – TB vs. LAD, 5 p.m., FOX

Wednesday, Oct. 21 – Game 2, TB vs. LAD, 5 p.m., FOX

Friday, Oct. 23 – Game 3, LAD vs. TB, 5 p.m., FOX

Saturday, Oct. 24 – Game 4, LAD vs. TB, 5 p.m., FOX

Sunday, Oct. 25* – Game 5, LAD vs. TB, 5 p.m., FOX

Tuesday, Oct. 27* – Game 6, TB vs. LAD, 5 p.m., FOX

Wednesday, Oct. 28* – Game 7, TB vs. LAD, 5 p.m., FOX

*If necessary

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Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: JoeArrigo

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