If the first two days are any indication, it’s going to be quite a playoff series.
Four of baseball’s most legendary franchises have played in wildcard games, with the Red Sox beating the Yankees and then the Dodgers knocking out the Cardinals on Chris Taylor’s hometown in the ninth inning. Now Los Angeles faces San Francisco in the final chapter of another famous rivalry – and the most anticipated game of the Division Series round.
It is also a good time to look a little into the future. With four teams remaining in each league, there are 16 possible matches left for the World Series. Here’s a quick rundown of each. The clashes are listed in descending order of probability, using odds numbers from Fangraphs.com early Thursday morning.
DODGERS-RED SOX (12.2%)
Boston won a 2018 World Series rematch – except now Mookie Betts is playing for Los Angeles. Alex Verdugo went to the Red Sox in this trade, and they also have former Dodgers Nathan Eovaldi and Kiké Hernández playing important roles.
No need to dig deep on this game. When Houston’s sign-stealing plan was revealed, Dodgers fans were among the most aggrieved as they lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series. Former Dodgers star Dusty Baker now manages Houston.
DODGERS-BLANC SOX (11.1%)
There might be more familiarity and hostility in a Dodgers-Astros or Dodgers-Red Sox game, but there’s a lot to recommend Dodgers-White Sox. On the one hand, it would give Chicago manager Tony La Russa a World Series rematch with Los Angeles after being on the wrong side of Kirk Gibson’s famous home run in 1988 when the Dodgers beat Oakland. It could also be the best starting pitching game of the remaining possibilities.
The odds for the Fangraphs aren’t in favor of the 100-win Rays, but they’ll get the Dodgers’ attention if the teams meet in the World Series for a second straight year. The last time the two pennants were repeated was in 1977 and 1978, when the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series twice.
BREWERS-RED SOX (6.4%)
Milwaukee and Boston used to share a division in the AL East, but the teams don’t have a lot of memorable history with each other. The Brewers finished two games behind division champion Red Sox in 1988, but even that wasn’t much of a head-to-head race. The top four AL East teams finished within two games of each other that year.
Zack Greinke taking on his former team in Milwaukee would be an interesting subplot here. Plus, Brewers president David Stearns previously served as the Astros’ assistant general manager.
BRASSEURS-BLANC SOX (5.8%)
It would be a breeze to travel between two stadiums about 100 miles apart. Avisaíl García, a former White Sox outfielder, has hit 29 home runs this year for Milwaukee. Batting receiver Yasmani Grandal spent a year with the Brewers before joining the White Sox after the 2019 season.
BRAVES-RED SOX (5.8%)
The Braves take on the city they once called home, and they’re hoping it turns out better for Atlanta than their clash with the Boston area in the 2017 Super Bowl. Be prepared for “28-3” signs at Fenway Park .
In 2017, Charlie Morton won Game 7 of the World Series for the Astros. He’s gone 14-6 for Atlanta this season.
BRAVES-BLANC SOX (5.2%)
Craig Kimbrel vs. Braves – Although Kimbrel has struggled so much for Chicago, it’s hard to say how important he will be in the playoffs.
GIANTS-RED SOX (5.0%)
Boston has the most World Series titles this century with four, and San Francisco is second with three. These teams have generally stayed away from each other over the past two decades. The Giants haven’t made the playoffs in the four years the Red Sox have won it all, and the Red Sox have failed in the three seasons the Giants have won the title.
This story is simple: Baker faces San Francisco, the team with which he began his managerial career in 1993. Baker took the Giants to the World Series in 2002 – still his only pennant as a big league skipper – but they lost to the Angels in seven games that year.
GIANTS-WHITE SOX (4.6%)
The Giants were the New York Giants in 1917, when the White Sox beat them in the World Series behind Red Faber’s three wins. Chicago hasn’t won it all again for 88 years.
These are the only two playoff teams this year that have never won the World Series. Tampa Bay traded shortstop Willy Adames to the Brewers in May. Star rookie Wander Franco excelled there for the Rays, but Adames hit 20 home runs in 99 games after joining Milwaukee.
The World Series goes to SEC country. Those two teams were one game away from meeting in last year’s Fall Classic, but Atlanta lost to the Dodgers in a seven-game NL championship streak.
Yes, that’s right: Fangraphs figures say this showdown between the two seeds is actually the least likely. Evan Longoria is one of the best players in young Tampa Bay history, but after 10 seasons there he was traded to the Giants. He’s been with San Francisco for four seasons and still has good power when in good health.
Follow Noah Trister on www.twitter.com/noahtrister
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