It’s time for the 2018 World Series. After all the tiebreaker games, wild finishes, powerful home runs, incredible catches, clutch hits, and controversial calls through the MLB Postseason, the 2018 Fall Classic is here. After starting off with 10 teams in the playoffs, it’s down to two: The Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Boston Red Sox. The World Series is officially starting Tuesday, October 23 with TV coverage on FOX.
This is about as historic of a matchup in baseball as you can get. Both franchises date back decades, and they’ve faced off in the World Series before, all the way back in 1916 when Babe Ruth was still pitching for the Sox. Back then, the Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins, and the Red Sox won the title after taking the series 4-1.
The Dodgers are making back-to-back World Series appearances after losing to the Houston Astros in 2017, while the Red Sox are back after last appearing in 2013 when they won it all. The Dodgers haven’t won a championship in three decades, the last one coming in 1988 after the heroics of Kirk Gibson.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 World Series.
The World Series gets started with Game 1 at Fenway Park in Boston at 8 p.m. ET with television coverage from FOX. First pitch is scheduled for the game at 8:09 p.m. ET. The first two games of the series will be at Fenway Park, and will shift to Dodger Stadium for Game 3, Game 4, and Game 5. If necessary, Game 6 and Game 7 will be back at Fenway Park. See the full schedule at MLB.com.
Here’s the full schedule for the World Series:
Game 1 – Fenway Park, Oct. 23, 8:09 p.m. ET
Game 2 – Fenway Park, Oct. 24, 8:09 p.m. ET
Game 3 – Dodger Stadium, Oct. 26, 8:09 p.m. ET
Game 4 – Dodger Stadium, Oct. 27, 8:09 p.m. ET
Game 5 – Dodger Stadium, Oct. 26, 8:15 p.m. ET
Game 6 – Fenway Park, Oct. 24, 8:09 p.m. ET
Game 7 – Fenway Park, Oct. 24, 8:09 p.m. ET
How It Happened
Los Angeles Dodgers: This season the Dodgers started off slow, causing many in the baseball world to wonder if they could bounce back in a tough division to make the playoffs. As ESPN put it in May, “Are the Dodgers more likely to rebound or miss the playoffs? The team got off to a 16-20 start, and the team was even in third place in their own division at points in September. Clearly, the Dodgers completed that turnaround, making this run to the World Series even more impressive.
The Dodgers won the NL West by one game over the Colorado Rockies, who defeated the Chicago Cubs to make it into the NLDS after the Wild Card Game. The Dodgers finished the season with a 92-71 record and a plus-194 run differential, by far the best in the National League. The team faced off against the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series, winning 3-1 before advancing to play the Brewers. Los Angeles advanced to the World Series after a strong performance in Game 7 to take the series 4-3 over Milwaukee.
Boston Red Sox: As the team with the best record in baseball at 108-54, the Red Sox were one of the favorites to make it to the World Series out of the American League. The team had a dominating offense that scored the most runs in the MLB with 876 and the second-best run differential in the league at plus-229.
The Red Sox won the AL East by eight games over the Yankees, then played the Yankees in the AL Division Series. Boston then advanced to play the defending World Series champions in the Houston Astros, and beat them in five games, winning the series 4-1. Boston entered the season with a MLB-high $223 million payroll, so it’s not a major shocker they’re here at the end to represent the American League.
The Pitching Matchups
Chris Sale is starting Game 1 for the Red Sox after getting some extended rest due to an illness during the American League Championship Series. (He blamed it on a belly button ring—although he likely was joking—read here for more.) This will be Sale’s first time pitching in the World Series. It’s possible that Clayton Kershaw could go in Game 1 after helping the Dodgers close out Game 7 against the Brewers, but if he doesn’t, expect to see the All-Star in Game 2. It’s likely that Kershaw will start Game 1 for the Dodgers.
Here’s a look at the other starters for both teams, plus the potential matchups that could go down in the World Series:
Game 2: Rich Hill against David Price – Price finally notched his first postseason win in the ALCS against the Houston Astros, and he’ll try and keep that momentum going with a likely start in Game 2. Hill was solid for the Dodgers during the season with a 11-5 record and 3.66 ERA, and he’ll be facing his old team in the Red Sox in this series.
Game 3: Walker Buehler against Nathan Eovaldi – Even though Buehler is a rookie, he hasn’t pitched like one this season. Buehler started Game 7 for the Dodgers against the Brewers and only gave up one run, and he has a sub-2.00 ERA at home for the Dodgers this season. Eovaldi can get his fastball up into the high 90’s, and that always makes him a dangerous starter on the mound. Eovaldi pitched well against the Yankees in the Division Series, and he likely will get at least one start for the Red Sox in the World Series.
Game 4: Hyun-Jin Ryu against Rick Porcello – Ryu didn’t pitch well against the Brewers in Game 6 of the NLCS, but he will have a chance at redemption for the Dodgers in the middle of the series. Ryu likely would go up against Rick Porcello, who was hit around a bit by the Astros in the ALCS for the Red Sox.
The Top Hitters
Mookie Betts, Red Sox, Outfield – Betts put together an MVP-level season for the Red Sox, hitting for a .346 average with 32 home runs, 80 RBIs, 47 doubles, and 30 stolen bases. He’ll be the player the Dodgers worry about the most in this series.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Red Sox, Outfield – Even though Mookie Betts got all the attention this season for his MVP-level play, it was Bradley who starred in the ALCS against the Astros. Bradley had 9 RBIs in the series, including a grand slam off Houston closer Roberto Osuna in Game 3, and earned ALCS MVP for his play.
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers, Outfielder – Puig can run hot and cold when it comes to his hitting, and heading into the World Series he’s on a hot streak. Puig is hitting for a .321 average in the postseason and has been an energy-boosting presence for the Dodgers.
Manny Machado, Dodgers, Shortstop – The biggest acquisition of the trade deadline made his way to the Dodgers, and Machado has provided a spark for the team through the second half of the season and in the playoffs. Machado had a couple “dirty player” moments during the Milwaukee series, and now the spotlight will be even bigger as Machado plays in his first-ever World Series. Machado has three home runs in 11 postseason games as the World Series gets started.
J.D. Martinez, Red Sox, Outfield/Designated Hitter – Martinez has also had an MVP-level season for the Red Sox, and to keep him in the lineup, the team likely will use Martinez as an outfielder in the games at Dodger Stadium. Martinez had an insane season for the Red Sox, swatting 43 home runs while putting up 130 RBIs, 37 doubles, and 111 runs scored.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts previously played for the Red Sox, and he was in the middle of quite the memorable moment for fans. It was Roberts who scored the tying run for the Red Sox against the Yankees in the 2004 playoffs that helped get them to the World Series, which they won to break their decades long curse. Funny enough, Roberts isn’t the only manager in this series that played for the opposing team: Alex Cora previously played for the Dodgers (and also the Red Sox) during the beginning of his career.