Posted on October 25, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The 2017 World Series is officially underway, and as expected, Game 1 treated us to a great pitchers-duel between Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel. But in a battle of the beards, Justin Turner homered off Keuchel in the 6th inning to lift the Dodgers to a win and series lead. Early pressure in the series is now firmly on the Astros, who would prefer not to return home down 2-0, so they’ll be looking to bounce back quickly in Wednesday’s Game 2.
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Apparently, no one told Los Angeles that it’s late October. Game 1 temperatures rose into the triple digits, making it feel more like the dog days of August than the Fall Classic. Similar heat is expected for Game 2, which could have an impact on the game. With just nine total hits in Game 1, the heat seemed to benefit the pitchers more than the hitters. However, the heat could also force starters out of the game sooner, making teams more dependent on their bullpen. That could give an edge to the Dodgers, who have the better bullpen.
The Dodgers will follow up a great outing from Kershaw by sending another lefty to the mound in Game 2. Rich Hill has more than a week of rest since he started Game 2 of the NLCS, so he should be rested and ready to go Wednesday night. He only went five innings last time out, but they were five outstanding innings against the Cubs. Hill struck out eight and allowed just one run on three hits. At age 37, he may not be long for Game 2 considering the heat. However, the Dodgers will no doubt be satisfied if he can deliver another five strong innings.
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Meanwhile, the Astros will once again rest their hopes on Justin Verlander. In three postseason starts, he has been utterly brilliant, almost single-handedly beating the Yankees twice in the ALCS. In his last 16 innings, Verlander has allowed just one run. He’ll be on regular rest, but this will also be his 37th start of the year, so there’s always the possibility that he’ll run out of gas at some point, especially with the hot temperatures in Los Angeles. However, the Astros will gladly take their chances with what Verlander can give them.
Look for Alex Bregman to be Houston’s X-factor in Game 2. With Josh Reddick struggling during the ALCS, he was moved down in the order with Bregman moving up to the no. 2 spot. Against another left-handed starter, Bregman will be key in setting the table for Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. He homered off Kershaw in Game 1, so he’ll no doubt be confident heading into Game 2 against Hill. George Springer continues to struggle in the leadoff spot, so the Astros need Bregman to get on base and jumpstart the offense.
The Dodgers look like an absolute buzzsaw. But on the mound, Verlander has been even more dominant. Few of the Dodgers hitters have had any kind of success against him in the past, and so it’s easy to envision Verlander having another dominant outing. With Verlander on the mound, the Astros will only need to scratch out a few runs to secure a win and even up the series. Houston wins 3-1.