By Christian S. Kohl
October will be here soon enough, and as summer transitions to the Fall, so to does the attention of fans from regular season play to the Fall Classic. With the Red Sox and Dodgers both finishing the season atop their division with 90+ wins, which of these two has the best chance to finish the season as champions?
The Red Sox are a team of balance, with few if any players as standouts in the major stat categories. The ageless David Ortiz leads the squad with 29 homers, 8th best overall in the league. They feature no top 5 performers in batting average, RBI, or wins either. The Dodgers, likewise, have nobody bashing homers left and right, with Adrian Gonzalez leading the way with just 21. His 98 RBI, however, is enough to currently leave him in the top 5 in the NL.
But this is the playoffs. The playoffs mean elevated stakes and small room for error. Far more often than not, each series will boil down to pitching, and more specifically starting pitching depth. In a long series, the Dodgers feature more of that dominant depth in their rotation that can carry a team all the way to a Series title.
For LA, everything begins and ends with Kershaw. His 230 Innings and league leading 1.88 ERA will constitute the beginning, middle and end of the attack for the Dodgers in each series. The Red Sox feature no such dominant #1, which is beyond imperative in the postseason. Both Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Rou sit in the top 10 in ERA this year while each throwing over 170 innings. Boston, again, features no such depth from their starting rotation. John Lackey features a team-leading 3.52 ERA as well as a losing record. John lackey has also seen his share of ups and downs, managing to throw 200 innings this season but not without registering a 1.27 WHIP. Guys like Lackey are bulldogs, however, and have the postseason experience that can often be vital to turning in badly needed dominant efforts.
As far as the closing spot, both teams have impressive weapons. Kenley Jansen sports a modest 1.9 ERA along with 109 K’s in just 79 innings pitched. After a tumultuous beginning to the season waffling between four different closer options, the Sox finally found a reliable anchor in Koji Uehara. Uehara registered 99 K’s across 72 innings pitched, offering Boston the stability they were looking for late in ballgames.
While many may think neither of these teams will eventually win the title, of the two, Los Angeles has a modestly better chance of pulling it off. The road for neither team will be easy, but the top to bottom strength of Los Angeles, coupled with its rotational depth puts them in a better position to win. It’s taken many months for both these teams to reach this point, as well as the handful of other teams fortunate enough to extend their seasons. Whatever happens will be nothing short of thrilling, but the Dodgers edge the Sox this week for best chance to go all the way.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.