Lo Duca’s World Series Preview: Do the Dodgers Have Value Against the Red Sox?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Alex Cora, Dave Roberts
World Series Betting Odds
- Dodgers series price: +135
- Red Sox series price: -155
The Dodgers and Red Sox will meet in the World Series for the first time in their storied histories. The Red Sox have home-field advantage and are -155 favorites with the Dodgers coming back as +135 underdogs. Game 1 is set for Tuesday at 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX.
Boston put together a historic regular season. The Red Sox led the majors with 108 wins and had a +229 run differential. Los Angeles finished with a 91-71 record (not including a win over Colorado in the NL West tiebreaker) and a +194 run differential, which ranked third in MLB.
The Red Sox have dropped just two games this postseason. They beat the Yankees, 3-1, in the AL Division Series and ran through the defending champion Astros, 4-1, in the AL Championship Series. Alex Cora’s charges have won four games in a row and have scored 57 runs and allowed 35 in nine postseason games.
The Dodgers’ ride to the finale has been a little less straightforward. Los Angeles disposed of Atlanta in four games in the NLDS but needed seven games to get by Milwaukee in the NLCS. Overall, the Dodgers are 7-4 with 43 runs scored and 32 allowed in 11 games.
Both of these teams can score runs. The Red Sox led the majors in OBP (.339), OPS (.792) and xwOBA (.339) this season and were third in wRC+ (110). The Dodgers led the league in wRC+ (111) and ranked third in OBP (.333), OPS (.774) and xwOBA (.330).
The numbers from the regular season suggest that the Dodgers have an edge in pitching. Los Angeles’ starting rotation led the MLB with a 3.36 xFIP while Boston’s starters finished ninth with a 3.83 xFIP. The Dodgers’ bullpen also posted better numbers than Boston’s. LA’s relievers had a 3.77 xFIP while Boston’s logged a 4.05 xFIP.
The Red Sox certainly were baseball’s best team over the regular season, and to this point they’ve been the best team in the postseason, too.
But does that justify their price in the market?
At the current prices, the Red Sox have an implied probability (not counting the vigorish) of 60.8% while the Dodgers sit at 42.6%. One of the reasons I think the Dodgers have a better chance to win this series than the odds suggest is that their terrific rotation features three left-handers and their long reliever, Alex Wood, is also a lefty. Plus, rookie righty Walker Buehler was outstanding during the regular season.
We’ve talked ad nauseam this postseason about Boston’s lineup being a little less terrorizing against left-handed pitchers, and here we go again.
While the Sox have posted an impressive .357 xwOBA this postseason, they sat at .315 in the regular season.
Additionally, I think the Red Sox have caught plenty of breaks so far this postseason. I credit Cora and his hitters for having a great two-out approach, but the way they’ve been producing with two outs and runners in scoring position is absurd. This postseason Boston boasts a .394 batting average and 1.273 OPS with runners in scoring position with two outs.
It also needs to be mentioned that the Red Sox have benefited big time from unlikely sources. Jackie Bradley Jr. was a monster against the Astros, and Steve Pearce has been a game-wrecker. Sure, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are doing their thing, but the bottom-of-the-lineup production for Boston is pretty hard to believe.
Boston has been playing superb baseball, but at some point, the Sox have to come back down to earth — or at least close to it.
The Dodgers took a while to get going this season and have had their backs against the wall a couple of times this season. They also made it to Game 7 of the World Series last year — and I know a lot of people scoff at the notion that that means something — but it’s definitely better to have been here before than to not have.
In the end, I think the Dodgers’ pitching wins them this series. They have a stronger rotation with the added benefit of having three strong southpaws, a better bullpen and a lineup that can — at the very least — hang with Boston’s.
The Red Sox may have a slightly better chance of winning this thing, but I think the value is with the Dodgers.
Bet: Dodgers to Win World Series +135