Following another tough loss in game two of the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves heading to LA for the next three games with their proverbial backs against the walls against the Boston Red Sox.
While today’s game three (8:09 PM ET Friday) is not an elimination game per se, this is must-win for the Dodgers if they hope to stay in the series and ultimately avoid back-to-back years of second place finishes.
Always the Bridesmaid
When the MLB postseason began the metrics suggested that the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers were on a collision course for a World Series rematch from last season. Well, one out of two being correct isn’t bad. Unlike the NBA, which has had the same two teams duking it out for the titles over the better part of the last five years, MLB offered a different representative on the AL side of things this year.
In the ALCS, the Red Sox, who are starting to look unbeatable, bested the defending World Series champions 4-1, advancing to the World Series for the first time since 2013 and third time overall since 2007. Despite losing the series opener 7-2, Boston came back to win four in a row, a streak they have since expanded to six in a row including their two World Series wins against the Dodgers.
It has been a historic season for the Red Sox, one which has seen them check off just about every box thus far. In the ALDS, they got the chance to eliminate heated rival the New York Yankees from playoff contention. They won an MLB-best 108 games during the regular season. They’ve likely got the AL MVP (Mookie Betts) and Cy Young (Chris Sale) on their roster. There is no question that they were baseball’s hands down best team in 2018.
Not far behind them, well if you don’t count 16 games in the standings, are the Dodgers. Following up a disappointing end to their 2017 season, LA won 92 games and defeated both the NL East (Atlanta Braves) and NL Central (Milwaukee Brewers) divisional winners in the NLDS and NLCS respectively. This led the team back to the World Series in search of their first title since 1988. While the team entered the series with high expectations and many experts predicting a classic seven game encounter for the two teams, things have not gone LA’s way thus far.
The series isn’t quite over yet, though it does feel that way given how Boston is playing. In 2017, the Dodgers dropped the first two to the Astros as well, before coming back to even the series at three games apiece entering the decisive game seven. While LA did lose that one and ultimately the series, they were able to come back first from an 0-2 deficit and later a 3-2 one. That should give Dave Roberts’ squad some confidence going into this must-win game three against Boston.
Pitching Probables: (BOS) Rick Porcello vs (LAD) Walker Buehler
On paper, this one seems like the Red Sox have the clear advantage. Boston will be sending MLB veteran right-hander Rick Porcello to the mound in his 16th career postseason appearance (sixth start) where he will face the 24-year-old Walker Buehler, who is making just his fourth, all of the previous ones occurring this season.
But experience advantage aside, Buehler and Porcello aren’t that far removed statistically. In his career playoff appearances, Porcello has an ERA of 5.09 and a record of 1-4. This year, he has started two games and has pitched in four total, allowing an ERA of 4.22 and a WHIP of 1.22. Buehler meanwhile has made three playoff starts, allowing an ERA of 5.40 in 16.2 innings pitched. However, he is coming off a fantastic and playoff-saving outing as Buehler was the man on the mound for LA’s game seven victory against the Brewers where he gave up just one run in 4.2 innings pitched. Porcello’s most recent start saw him give up four earned and seven hits, including two home runs.
It is hard to know what to expect from these two pitchers in this one. On one hand, Porcello is a playoff veteran who has pitched in a World Series before. He has also pitched in Dodger Stadium before and has faced a good deal of LA’s lineup. Buehler has no such experience. The young righty in just his rookie season, has never pitched against the Red Sox and has logged innings against just one of their players in Ian Kinsler.
If we are to put the playoff sample sizes aside, which eliminate Porcello’s two starts and Buehler’s three, Buehler would come out on top as the better pitcher. During the regular season, Buehler had a crisp 2.62 ERA in 24 games, 23 of which he started. His record was 8-5 and he added 151 strikeouts and a 0.96 WHIP to his statline as well. Porcello on the other hand had a 4.28 ERA. He had a better record, going 17-7, which was the fourth most wins in MLB, and more strikeouts (190) but he also had a higher WHIP at 1.18.
It is a close comparison between the two. Buehler is coming off a great postseason start but this is the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Will the stage be too big for the 24-year-old or will he pick up where he left off the last time he was handed the ball in a do-or-die situation? Or will Porcello’s veteran experience win out as he gets the Red Sox one win away from what would be his own first World Series title?
Our Preview’s Boston Red Sox at LA Dodgers Game 3 Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
With two question marks on the mound, the focus of this game will probably be on both offenses, an area where Boston takes the cake.
The Red Sox led all teams in runs scored, hits, doubles, total bases, RBI, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. If you are keeping track, that’s every base level offensive stat except triples and home runs. That’s not to say the Dodgers were bad in those areas: they finished top-15 in every category including second in home runs. The long ball has certainly been the Dodgers’ saving grace this postseason as they are tied for second in most home runs with Houston, four more than Boston’s 10. Much like the regular season, Boston leads in pretty much everything else.
Offensively, it is going to be a battle as no one this postseason has really found a way to stop Boston’s lethal offense. Teams have halted them for a game or so but not a full series and the Dodgers have yet to do it at all. Perhaps some home cooking will change things but with a rookie pitcher on the mound, the Red Sox could smell blood in the water and pounce early and often.
So for this game three, our Boston Red Sox vs LA Dodgers predictions and betting picks are as follows:
- Currently, the Dodgers are actually favored at 1.5 runs on the spread, but the line has shifted ti make them firmly odds-on at that runline. Our pick is for Boston to continue steamrolling their way through this postseason and picking up the win here to go 3-0. Bet Red Sox +1.5 @ best odds of -154 with BetOnline. It is between -160 and -165 with the other major American sports betting companies.
- Look for the over 7.5 runs @ best odds of +105 with Intertops (the other oddsmakers are generally -105) given the propensity this team has for scoring.