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Puig destined to shine on World Series stage

MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

BOSTON -- All eyes were on Yasiel Puig last Saturday at Miller Park, and he loved every second of it. It was showtime in Milwaukee.

Puig flipped his bat, danced around first base, flexed his biceps on the basepaths and pretended to shoot a basket at home plate after his three-run homer in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The homer helped the Dodgers secure a 5-1 victory that sent them to the World Series, and it provided Puig another signature moment.

BOSTON -- All eyes were on Yasiel Puig last Saturday at Miller Park, and he loved every second of it. It was showtime in Milwaukee.

Puig flipped his bat, danced around first base, flexed his biceps on the basepaths and pretended to shoot a basket at home plate after his three-run homer in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The homer helped the Dodgers secure a 5-1 victory that sent them to the World Series, and it provided Puig another signature moment.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

:: World Series schedule and results ::

This wasn't the good Puig. It was the great Puig. The showman, the slugger and the baseball hero, all in one.

And while it's impossible to predict which Puig will show up in the World Series, what's certain is that the Dodgers' biggest personality is back on the biggest stage and you won't be able to take your eyes off him.

"There is certainly a lot of upside with Yasiel. There's a lot of energy," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "There's some recklessness, so my job, the coaches' job, is to continue to embrace it to some extent but also harness it. So, there is a balance, but certainly with Yasiel the net is certainly a positive."

It's been easy to track Puig's movements throughout the years.

The sky-high bat flips on home runs -- and sometimes on singles or doubles -- along with his tongue wagging are just as famous as his laser-like throws from the outfield. Puig being Puig means having the unique ability to exhilarate a fan base with a game-changing feat and then frustrate them with a baserunning gaffe or puzzling effort on defense all in the same game.

"Sometimes, I do my stuff like a kiss or crazy stuff and sometimes people don't like it, but that's the way I play," Puig said. "That's the way I feel good and play better. Every day and in every moment and every opportunity, I am growing up a little bit and playing baseball the way people want to. I just have to focus and do the best I can."

Video: NLCS Gm7: Puig notches 3 hits, cranks 3-run home run

Puig's postgame celebrations during the postseason have also been, shall we say, notable. A champagne-soaked Puig is always the center of the party. He dances and sprays everyone in sight, and after Game 7 of the NLCS, his targets included a few unsuspecting media members who ended up with 20-gallon trash cans of freezing ice water dumped on their heads.

It was a shirtless Puig who guaranteed the Dodgers would win the World Series after clinching the NL West title in Game 163, and now, he's four victories away from being right. The outfielder is hitting .333 with a .429 on-base-percentage in 11 games this postseason. He's also slugging .533 with a .962 OPS. Last year, Puig hit two home runs and drove in four runs in seven games during the World Series against the Astros, but he had more strikeouts (five) than hits (four) in 27 at-bats.

It was not the good Puig. He expects to be better this time around.

"I want to take [the World Series] as another game and try not to do too much," he said. "I think last year in the World Series, myself and couple of teammates tried too much, and that's why the results were not like we wanted. Now, I'll try to play against Boston -- in my first time at Fenway Park -- and just do the best I can. All I can do is play good defense and be the best I can."

Video: Puig and Bellinger join MLB Tonight after Game 7 win

The best of Puig can be rewarding. He was greeted by most of his teammates after his three-run home against the Brewers, a sign the unpredictable star is beloved in the clubhouse, warts and all.

"He's an awesome teammate," NLCS MVP Cody Bellinger said. "He cares about everyone. He's going to do some stuff on the field that makes people question what he does, but we understand where he's coming from and that's just how he plays the game. If he's playing like that, it means he's having fun and that's when he is playing the best. I got nothing bad to say about him, I really don't."

Puig and Bellinger have grown closer in the last few weeks, in part because of their daily competition to outdo each other at the plate. It was Bellinger's two-run home run in the second inning of Game 7 that gave the Dodgers a lead they would never relinquish. Puig's homer put it away a few innings later. The pair later celebrated the victory on social media, and even joked about which player had the better game.

The question remains: Which of the two had the best at-bats in Game 7?

"I would say Puig ended the game, basically, so I would say Puig," Bellinger said. "I just wouldn't say it to his face."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig

Betts prepping for 2B shift; Cora weighs options

Leon will catch Sale in Game 1; Wright could make WS roster
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Though Mookie Betts is generally considered to be the best right fielder in MLB, he continues to prepare for the possibility of being moved to second base when the World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3-5.

"Obviously, I'm going to do whatever I can if the opportunity presents itself to make sure I take care of everything," said Betts. "I think safety is the most important thing."

BOSTON -- Though Mookie Betts is generally considered to be the best right fielder in MLB, he continues to prepare for the possibility of being moved to second base when the World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3-5.

"Obviously, I'm going to do whatever I can if the opportunity presents itself to make sure I take care of everything," said Betts. "I think safety is the most important thing."

• World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX

Red Sox manager Alex Cora is still weighing the pros and cons with his analytics department of shifting Betts to a position he played regularly in the Minors. At Dodger Stadium, without the designated hitter, Cora has said he will start star slugger J.D. Martinez in the outfield for all three games.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

The unflappable Betts has worked out at second base during team workouts the last three days, in addition to his regular work in the outfield.

"I think I won't worry about that until the situation comes," Betts said. "Right now, I just have to take care of playing right field, catching the ball there and scoring some runs for the guys behind me. If that situation comes, it comes. If not, I'm not going to worry about it."

• Dress for the Fall Classic: Shop AL Champs gear

Another wrinkle for Cora to consider is that the Dodgers will start right-hander Walker Buehler in Game 3. It was believed Los Angeles would start lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw in the series' three games at Dodger Stadium, which would have given Cora the option of sitting the left-handed-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr., while keeping the right-handed-hitting Ian Kinsler at second base. In that scenario, Andrew Benintendi (LF), Betts (CF) and Martinez (RF) would comprise the starting outfield. Betts made 13 starts in center field during the regular season.

But with Buehler going in Game 3 in L.A., Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has essentially forced Cora's hand: If he wants Betts in the lineup, it makes the most sense to start him at second base and leave the left-handed-hitting Bradley in center field. 

Though Bradley is slashing just .177/.255/.290 with two homers and eight RBIs in 137 plate appearances against lefties this season, he has been in the lineup all three times Boston has faced a southpaw starter in this postseason.

• World Series Game 1: Lineups, bullpens, FAQs

Cora loves the athleticism that Betts, Benintendi and Bradley display on all sides of the ball, and he tries to keep them all in the lineup when possible.

"I read something before, that in the playoffs that when the three are together, our record is like unreal. We're playing .750 baseball," Cora said. "Obviously, they're not going to be together in L.A., at least to start the game. It's always good to have them."

Video: Cora on defensive alignment, Betts at second base

In the regular season and postseason combined, the Red Sox are 72-25 when Benintendi, Bradley and Betts started in the outfield together.

Betts did play six innings at second base after Kinsler was injured on Aug. 3 against the Yankees. Aside from that, the Red Sox have used him exclusively in the outfield the last four seasons.

Video: NYY@BOS: Betts takes over at 2B after Kinsler injury

If Cora does move him, it wouldn't be the most radical move a manager has ever made in this regard during a World Series.

A player getting a World Series start at a position he doesn't play is rare, but it's not unprecedented. The Indians were in a similar situation in 2016, when they wanted to get Carlos Santana's bat in the lineup against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Santana, who was the Indians' primary DH that year, got two World Series starts in left field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player since Jake Flowers in 1931 to start a World Series game at a position where he had never previously started. Flowers was primarily a middle infielder, but he started four games of the Fall Classic at third that year for the Cardinals.

Leon will stick with Sale
Christian Vazquez has emerged into Boston's primary catcher during the postseason, but the heavily slumping Sandy Leon has continued to start every game that ace Chris Sale has. That trend will continue in Game 1 of the World Series, Cora confirmed.

Including the postseason, Leon has caught 20 of Sale's 29 starts this season.

"I think just throwing to him, it's easy," said Sale. "He's very levelheaded. He studies hard. He works hard. Obviously, throwing out runners, he's good at that. And even just coming out for mound visits, there's never any panic. There's no sense of urgency. He's just coming out there either calming me down or going over a game plan.

"And for me, personally, I rely on my catcher for basically everything -- for scouting report, for pitch calling. And it's easier when you have guys like that back there that you can trust in and just kind of go out and follow their game plan, and we'll be good to go."

Video: 2018 WS Gm1: Cora on Chris Sale starting Game 1

The Red Sox are again expected to carry three catchers on the roster, including Blake Swihart, so Cora can be aggressive about pinch-hitting for Leon, who has two hits in his last 52 at-bats.

Roster decision still looms
The main roster decision for the Red Sox revolves around knuckleballer Steven Wright. The right-hander was on the initial American League Division Series roster but was taken off after one day due to his problematic right knee, which will require arthroscopic surgery during the offseason.

Wright had a strong showing in Sunday's workout, going through fielding drills and throwing to hitters. Rosters are due on Tuesday morning.

"He was OK. He's moving well," said Cora. "We're going to meet after the workout today to make the decision and to see where we're at roster-wise. And we'll announce it tomorrow."

• Wright making case to be on Sox's WS roster

If Wright makes the roster, one of Brandon Workman or Heath Hembree will likely be taken off the roster. Workman got rocked for four runs in one-third of an inning the last time he pitched, which was Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. Hembree hasn't given up a run the three times he's pitched in the postseason, though he also hasn't been used since Game 1 of the ALCS.

Bittersweet World Series for Pedroia
Though Dustin Pedroia, proud owner of two World Series rings, has been reduced to spectator status for this Fall Classic, he continues to be a positive force around his teammates.

Pedroia, who hasn't played since May due to complications from a right knee injury, is doing what he can do lend his experience. On Sunday, that included working with Betts on turning double plays.

"It's hard not playing, but that's it," Pedroia said. "Just watching how the guys go about everything, that part is actually fun.

"It's all right. Seeing how these guys play, I'm proud of every single one of them. I bring some energy."

Fashion police
Sale's sarcastic assertion that his stomach illness during the ALCS was caused by a belly-button ring continues to be a humorous topic around the Red Sox.

Brock Holt went so far as to say he would get a belly-button ring and a nipple ring if the Red Sox win the World Series. What does Sale think about setting fashion trends for the Red Sox?

"Hey, that's what I do," quipped Sale. "Fashionista, I guess."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, Sandy Leon, Chris Sale, Steven Wright

Machado unfazed by controversy, Fenway boos

MLB.com @RichardJustice

BOSTON -- Manny Machado was offered an opportunity to apologize. Or to, you know, set the record straight. On the eve of his first World Series, that would seem to be a nice little "kick the storyline down the road" way to go.

The Dodgers shortstop -- acquired from the Orioles at the All-Star break -- could have acknowledged what pretty much everyone in the game knows: At times, he has let his raging competitive fire get the best of him.

BOSTON -- Manny Machado was offered an opportunity to apologize. Or to, you know, set the record straight. On the eve of his first World Series, that would seem to be a nice little "kick the storyline down the road" way to go.

The Dodgers shortstop -- acquired from the Orioles at the All-Star break -- could have acknowledged what pretty much everyone in the game knows: At times, he has let his raging competitive fire get the best of him.

• World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

On the other hand, why bother? Is there anything that could change the narrative at this point? Besides, Machado seems to be holding up just fine as the designated villain of this postseason. What's a few boos compared to playing in a World Series?

:: World Series schedule and results ::

"It's unbelievable to be here," Machado said. "Everyone dreams about this. It's not easy getting here. Lot of obstacles. Lot of hard work. I'm truly blessed. It can't come any quicker."

That said, he also knows what's coming. When the Red Sox and Dodgers are announced before Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Fenway Park, Machado is going to get the loudest boos, and he's fine with that.

• Dress for Fall Classic: Get NL champs gear

That's a reaction to a hard slide into Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia in April 2017 and to a string of plays this postseason in which Machado -- and let's phrase this gently -- could have used better judgment, especially in his kicking of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Can fans in Boston boo any louder than Brewers fans did at Miller Park last week in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS?

"We're going to get booed no matter what," Machado said. "We're not in our territory. We're going to go out and try to compete as well as we can and leave it on the field and come out with a victory tomorrow."

Video: BOS@BAL: Pedroia exits game after collision at second

Back to that chance to apologize. When Machado was asked on Monday if he sometimes does things in the heat of the moment that he regrets, he was blunt.

"You know what?" he said. "When you're on the field, things stay on the field. You play hard for your ballclub. You're trying to win games. You're trying to get to the World Series. I got here. I'm trying to win the World Series. Whatever happened on the field, happened on the field. There's really nothing more to say."

• World Series Game 1: Lineups, bullpens, FAQs

So there.

"The game's changed," Machado said. "We're unfortunate that we have social media, Twitter, you know, Instagram and all that stuff. Just going to keep playing the game. Going to keep worrying about my team, keep worrying about winning a World Series."

Video: NLCS Gm7: Machado on win over Brewers, reaching WS

Some of the people who know him best swear by his character. One of those is Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce. He and Machado were teammates for three-plus seasons in Baltimore, and Pearce calls him "the best person I know in the game" while acknowledging he does occasionally cross lines.

"He plays hard," Pearce said, "and sometimes, emotions get the best of him. But I know what kind of guy he is off the field. He's a great guy."

Has anyone tried to fix Machado's ways?

"Players talked to him," Pearce said, "but that's just who he is. He's a great player. It's just who he is. He's not trying to hurt anybody."

Video: Looking at Machado's tenure with Dodgers since trade

In other words, to have Machado on your team, you have to accept every part of Manny. In the last five seasons -- all but three months with the Orioles -- Machado established himself as a dazzling talent. Not only did he average 34 doubles and 28 home runs, but he also played third base at such a high level that he became the first player who fans in Baltimore compared favorably to Brooks Robinson, which is the highest compliment an Orioles player can receive.

This season, Machado asked to move back to shortstop, his original position, and has proven himself all over again in recent weeks.

He has an .813 OPS in 11 postseason games for the Dodgers, and it was a full-count bunt single in Game 7 of the NLCS that opened the door for Cody Bellinger's two-run home run on the way to a 5-1 Dodgers victory and second straight World Series trip.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Bellinger belts 2-run homer, scores Machado

At 26 years old, Machado is expected to be one of the two most sought-after free agents this offseason, along with Bryce Harper. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp said anyone who thinks Machado is a dirty player should sit back and watch the offers pour in over the winter.

"Years ago, you slide like that into second base, it's a normal play," Kemp said. "Flipping guys, taking them into left field, that used to be normal. Go Google it. It's baseball. I'm not going to tell him how to play the game. He plays the game the way he wants to. He's a grown man. He loves to play the game. He's passionate about the game. He wants to win.

"That doesn't say anything about the character of the teammate. He's a great teammate. The guys love him in the clubhouse. Manny's gonna be Manny, and he's gonna play hard. In the offseason, it's really going to show how much of an impact player he is. Teams are going to be paying a lot of big bucks for that, and he deserves it."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado

Kershaw to make 1st Fenway start in Game 1

Ryu, Buehler to follow Dodgers' ace in playoff rotation
MLB.com @kengurnick

BOSTON -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Red Sox on Tuesday as he seeks his first championship. Manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 2 on Wednesday and Walker Buehler in Game 3 on Friday in Los Angeles.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

The importance of the ring to Kershaw: "It's pretty critical."

BOSTON -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Red Sox on Tuesday as he seeks his first championship. Manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 2 on Wednesday and Walker Buehler in Game 3 on Friday in Los Angeles.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

The importance of the ring to Kershaw: "It's pretty critical."

Video: Kershaw on pitching at Fenway for the 1st time

When Kershaw takes the Fenway Park mound, it'll be the first time the 30-year-old will pitch at the 106-year-old ballpark, and it'll also be the first time he faces the Red Sox, regular season or postseason.

Dress for Fall Classic: Get NL champs gear

"I don't really think about that stuff," Kershaw said. "I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park. But I came here, I don't know how long ago, 2000-something, and got to at least see it, got to be here, got to appreciate the stadium and things like that."

Kershaw works out at Fenway

Kershaw will toe the rubber opposite Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who had to deal with a stomach illness during the American League Championship Series.

Despite throwing the final 15 pitches in Saturday night's pennant clincher against Milwaukee, Kershaw said he should be good for Game 1.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Fun facts about only other Red Sox-Dodgers WS

The two franchises previously met in 1916 Fall Classic
MLB.com @dohyoungpark

The Dodgers have won the National League pennant 23 times. The Red Sox have been kings of the American League 14 times. But surprisingly, for all that success, the teams have only met once before in the World Series -- all the way back in 1916, when the Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins (named after manager Wilbert Robinson) in five games for the club's fourth championship.

The Dodgers have won the National League pennant 23 times. The Red Sox have been kings of the American League 14 times. But surprisingly, for all that success, the teams have only met once before in the World Series -- all the way back in 1916, when the Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins (named after manager Wilbert Robinson) in five games for the club's fourth championship.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX

Needless to say, baseball has changed a lot since then -- there are more than two teams playing west of the Mississippi now, for one -- and when the Dodgers and Red Sox clash in Game 1 of the 114th World Series on Tuesday, it won't be anything like their last meeting in the Fall Classic more than a century ago. Here's a look back at some fun facts from the last time these teams met in October, all those years ago.

1. The Red Sox didn't play their World Series home games at Fenway Park
It's tough now to imagine a Red Sox home game anywhere other than America's oldest ballpark, but a five-year-old Fenway Park in 1916 hadn't yet developed the hallowed place in baseball culture that it occupies today. Still one of the smallest ballparks in MLB today, Fenway Park only seated 35,000 until 1947. With that in mind, the Red Sox chose to play their home games for both the 1915 and 1916 World Series at nearby Braves Field, home of the NL's Boston Braves, which could hold more than 40,000 people.

2. The Robins were led by a young outfielder named Casey Stengel
Long before he was the Hall of Fame manager for seven World Series-winning Yankees teams, a young Stengel was the 26-year-old right fielder for the first-place 1916 Robins, second on the team with eight homers and third in hitting with a .279 average. He was 4-for-11 with two runs scored in the World Series, though he didn't start Games 2 and 4 because the Robins were to face a pair of tough left-handers: 18-game winner Dutch Leonard and the American League's ERA leader, a 21-year-old Babe Ruth.

Video: Stengel inducted into the Hall of Fame as manager

3. Ruth threw 13 scoreless innings in Game 2
In one of the greatest World Series games ever pitched, Ruth, a budding star, threw a 14-inning complete game as the Red Sox outlasted the Robins, 2-1. After allowing an inside-the-park homer to Brooklyn center fielder Hi Myers, Ruth threw 13 shutout innings to close out the contest, scattering five more hits and three walks while striking out four in the longest pitching performance of his career. The 13 scoreless frames started a then-record streak of 29 2/3 scoreless innings in the World Series for the Bambino, which stood for 43 years until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.

4. Game 2 was the longest World Series game (by innings) until 2005
Ruth wasn't the only pitcher with a titanic performance in that marathon Game 2; Brooklyn starter Sherry Smith also went the distance, pitching 13 1/3 innings until finally allowing a pinch-hit, walk-off single to Del Gainer in the 14th. (The first run off Smith was driven in by Ruth himself, on a third-inning RBI groundout.) When all was said and done, the 14-inning contest was the longest in World Series history by innings -- a record that has been tied twice, by Game 3 of the 2005 World Series and Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Being that it was 1916, the game was still over in a snappy two hours, 32 minutes.

Video: Hosmer, Blum hit World Series game-winners in 14th

5. Boston used a total of five pitchers in the series
This wasn't uncommon in the era -- in fact, Boston only used three pitchers in the 1915 World Series -- but it's worth noting for comparison's sake to today's bullpen-heavy games. Don't tell Craig Counsell, but the Red Sox squeezed 49 innings out of only five arms during the five-game series: Ruth, Leonard, Ernie Shore, Carl Mays and Rube Foster. Ruth, Leonard and Shore pitched complete games in Games 2, 4 and 5, while Shore also lasted 8 2/3 innings in Game 1 before he was relieved by Mays, the Game 3 starter, for a one-out save. Foster pitched three innings of relief in Game 3 after Mays was lifted for a pinch-hitter. In comparison, the 2018 Red Sox have used five or more pitchers in seven of their nine games this postseason.

6. It was the first World Series in which both teams recorded a save
Since starting pitchers went so deep into games in the early days of baseball, the save -- so prominent in the modern day -- wasn't yet a significant factor in most World Series games. In fact, prior to 1916, there had only been one save recorded in the World Series in total, when Doc White of the White Sox registered a three-inning save against the Cubs in Game 5 of the 1906 World Series. Mays' one-out save in Game 1 of the 1916 Fall Classic was followed by Brooklyn right-hander Jeff Pfeiffer, who closed out Game 3 with 2 2/3 perfect innings. The feat wasn't repeated until 1924.

7. Three homers were hit in the series, but only one left the yard
We have funky early 20th-century ballpark dimensions to thank for this one. Myers' inside-the-park homer in Game 2 off Ruth was a shot to right-center at Braves Field, where straightaway center field was 550 feet from home plate and the left-field and right-field foul poles were both situated at 402 feet, leaving a cavernous expanse in which balls could roll. When the series moved to Brooklyn, Boston third baseman Larry Gardner took advantage by clubbing a homer over the short 301-foot wall in right at Ebbets Field. A day later, Gardner took advantage of the marked asymmetry at Ebbets by knocking an inside-the-park homer to left-center, with left field at 419 feet and center at 450 feet away from home plate.

8. Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan retired after the series ...
... to become a banker. Carrigan was the player-manager of the Red Sox for four seasons from 1913-16, leading the team to a fourth-place finish in '13 before finishing second in '14 and winning a pair of World Series rings in 1915-16, becoming the only Red Sox manager to win multiple titles until Terry Francona won a pair in 2004 and '07. Despite that success, he chose to step away from baseball immediately following the 1916 World Series to go into banking in Maine. He tried to make a comeback in the late '20s, but his teams finished in last place in all three seasons.

9. The Red Sox and Dodgers wouldn't meet again until 2002
The 86-year drought between meetings makes more sense when you consider that the Red Sox only won four AL pennants between 1918 and 2004, and Interleague Play wasn't introduced until 1997. The Dodgers swept the Red Sox at Dodger Stadium when the clubs finally met again in 2002, and they've only faced off 12 more times since then. Since that 1916 World Series, the Dodgers are tied for the second-fewest games against the Red Sox in MLB, ahead of only the Reds. In fact, the Dodgers have only won once at Fenway Park since it opened in 1912.

10. The series began the longest gap between World Series meetings in MLB history
Given how infrequently the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in general, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, then, that the 102 years between matchups in the World Series between the franchises is the longest in Major League history. In second place, the A's and Giants went 76 years between Fall Classic showdowns, while the Phillies and Yankees round out the top three, having played 59 years apart.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers

Players choose their favorite playoff moments

MLB.com @castrovince

As the years pass, we forget so much of the postseason experience. We forget the debates over who should be the 25th man on a particular roster. We forget the name of the umpire who called that borderline pitch a ball in a big spot. We forget which form of snack food we consumed while stress-eating in the late innings. We forget the final scores and, heck, some of us even forget actual series outcomes.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

As the years pass, we forget so much of the postseason experience. We forget the debates over who should be the 25th man on a particular roster. We forget the name of the umpire who called that borderline pitch a ball in a big spot. We forget which form of snack food we consumed while stress-eating in the late innings. We forget the final scores and, heck, some of us even forget actual series outcomes.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX

What we're more likely to remember are single, signature moments -- huge hits, dramatic dingers, dazzling defensive gems that make us jump or fall out of our chair -- or vague-but-vivid tableaus from the overall experience.

That's the stuff that survives.

So just before the start of another enthralling October, we asked a bunch of active Major Leaguers -- 85 in all, from a wide variety of teams -- for their favorite postseason moment of their lifetime. We got a lot of different answers, from commonly cited moments like the Derek Jeter "Flip Play" for the Yankees against the A's in the 2001 ALDS ("Such a weird, instinctual play," Rockies shortstop Trevor Story said) to not-so-commonly-cited ones like Carlos Guillen's walk-off push bunt to advance the Mariners past the White Sox in the 2000 ALDS ("That one I remember, because I was there with my dad, top deck, right behind the foul pole, with our backs against the glass at Safeco," Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd said) to more general takes on title runs ("Every single night growing up, we were tuned into Channel 23, TBS, to watch the Braves, so it was sick seeing them win it [in '95]," Red Sox pitcher David Price said).

:: World Series schedule and results ::

We can't list every single answer here, so we picked out 10 that elicited either the most or the best responses.

2011 World Series, Game 6: The David Freese Game

No surprise that Freese's elimination-game glory has a special place in the hearts and minds of many current players, though it is a little jarring to note how long ago -- in baseball years, at least -- this night really was.

"I was in high school in Venezuela," said Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez, emphasizing that point.

Texas was up, 7-5, one strike away from its first World Series title with two aboard and Freese at the plate. But when Freese lifted a fly ball over the head of a leaping Nelson Cruz in right field to bring home both runners, it was a brand-new ballgame.

"I remember I had a big test the next day," Lopez continued. "I said I was going to go to bed early, but I was like, 'I'm going to watch the ninth inning.' Then it was a tie game, and I stayed up like two extra hours, because I couldn't stop watching that game. To me, that game was just, like, mind-blowing."

With sleep-deprived fans watching every second, Josh Hamilton's two-run homer in the 10th put the Rangers back ahead, but the Cardinals came roaring back again with Lance Berkman's two-out, two-strike, game-tying single in the bottom of the inning. And in the 11th, Freese permanently cemented his place in postseason lore with the leadoff, walk-off winner off Mark Lowe to set up Game 7.

Video: Freese's walk-off homer sends Series to Game 7

"He's pretty humble about it," said Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, who was a Minor Leaguer at the time but later became teammates with Freese. "But that type of moment can change your life. We were in St. Louis [recently], and they were interviewing people at the Ballpark Village across the street, asking, 'What's your favorite postseason moment?' Every person from age 20 to 80 said David Freese's home run. That's cool."

Nine players we surveyed picked Freese's heroics as their favorite postseason memory, so it "won" this poll.

Although, in the interest of full disclosure, one of those players was Freese himself.

"I'll tell you what," he said, "I enjoyed the triple more. People always talk about the homer, but that triple was sweet. Down to the last strike, last out, got it done. More importantly, the Game 7 finish to cap it off. Game 6 isn't as cool if we don't get it done."

2001 World Series, Game 7: The Luis Gonzalez Game-Winner

At a time when America needed a healthy diversion and distraction most, the World Series certainly delivered, with the D-backs and Yankees going the distance.

"There was a lot of stuff wrapped up in post-9/11 playoff baseball that year," said Nats reliever Sean Doolittle, one of three players to pick this moment. "So, I feel like the whole country was super invested in the playoffs and World Series, because the Yankees were in it and all of the storylines and everything. It was just such an emotional World Series, emotional playoffs."

And it all came down to the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, with the score knotted at 2, the bases loaded, one out and arguably the greatest closer in history -- Mariano Rivera -- on the mound. Luis Gonzalez swung at Rivera's 0-1 offering and hit the flare that found the outfield grass.

Video: Must C Classic: Gonzalez walks off, wins World Series

"Infield pulled in, Luis Gonzalez blooper base hit," Tigers catcher James McCann said. "I remember that one pretty vividly."

2004 ALCS: The Red Sox Comeback

Think about the gift this Sox team gave not just to Bostonians desperate to end an 86-year World Series title drought, but to a generation of ballplayers who now know nothing on the postseason stage is impossible. Because if a long-cursed club can come back from a 3-0 hole in a best-of-seven series against the juggernaut Yankees, why should anybody roll over?

That's why five players surveyed picked not just any one moment of this comeback (such as Johnny Damon's Game 7 grand slam), but the comeback itself.

"It was just so historic in that rivalry," Padres catcher Austin Hedges said. "I always loved the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, and that comeback, I've watched the [ESPN '30 for 30' documentary] on it like five times."

Video: ALCS Gm7: Damon extends the lead with a grand slam

Added Angels pitcher Justin Anderson: "If it's on TV, I'll always stop to watch it."

For Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, a Boston native, that series was personal both then and now.

"Red Sox winning, with our manager [Dave Roberts] stealing second base," Hill said.

2005 National League Championship Series, Game 5: The Albert Pujols Homer

Back in that prehistoric era in which the Astros were still in the NL Central, they played two epic NLCS rounds against the Cardinals in 2004 and '05. The Cards prevailed in a seven-game thriller in '04 that, with the Red Sox and Yankees doing their aforementioned thing over in the AL, didn't get the eyes it deserved. In '05, the Astros got their revenge, but not before Pujols hit a home run bigger than the great state of Texas.

It was 4-2 Astros in the top of the ninth, two on, two out, with Brad Lidge on the hill and Pujols at the plate. Lidge got ahead 0-1, and then "The Machine" flipped on. Pujols hit the ball -- or what was left of it -- to the train tracks at Minute Maid Park to give the Cards the go-ahead run in a 5-4 win.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Pujols jacks a mammoth three-run shot

"People that were there say you could hear a pin drop, that it was dead silence," Brewers first baseman Eric Thames said. "Lidge was the most dominant closer in the game at that time."

That the Astros went on to win Game 6 feels almost trivial here, because, for a couple of surveyed players, the memories of the homer have somehow exceeded the memories of the ultimate series result.

"The swing," Thames said. "Bam! Smell ya! I can imagine being a player on that [Astros] team, and it was like your heart was ripped out."

Taillon -- who, yes, was already quoted earlier in this piece, but couldn't limit himself to just one memory -- was watching on TV from his Houston-area home and can attest to that feeling.

"I was, like, a fan fan, bigtime Astros fan," he said. "That one hurt."

2002 World Series, Game 2: The Barry Bonds Homer

The Giants lost this game. The Giants lost this Series. The "Rally Monkey" and his cohorts on the Angels would have the last laugh.

But when the game's most feared slugger hits a ball an estimated 485 foot for a solo shot in the ninth inning off one of the game's best closers in Troy Percival, people remember.

Video: 2002 WS Gm2: Bonds hits a monster shot to right field

Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez remembered.

"It disappeared in the sky," he said of Bonds' blast.

Actually, it went through a tunnel halfway up the right-field bleachers at Angel Stadium, bouncing off a concession stand.

"That was so impressive," Gonzalez continued. "The Giants are down in the ninth inning, and the guy just silenced the entire stadium when he hit that homer. That's a homer that I'll always remember."

2006 NLCS, Game 7: The Endy Chavez Catch

Back in the days before catch probabilities, the eye test was all we had to evaluate the difficulty of an outfield defensive gem. But we're pretty sure, all these years later, that our eyes did not deceive us on the night of Oct. 19, 2006.

What we thought then is still true now: Chavez's catch, which robbed Scott Rolen of a two-run home run in a 1-1 tie in the sixth, was incredible.

Video: NLCS Gm 7: Chavez makes a spectacular catch

Even though the Mets went on to lose that game after Yadier Molina's uncatchable homer in the ninth, Mets fans will always appreciate Chavez's great glovework and his throw to double up Jim Edmonds at first. And nobody in Shea Stadium that night was more appreciative than the man on the mound, Oliver Perez.

"You ask anybody, and they say it's one of the best moments in baseball," a present-day Perez said. "The way he jumped to the ball, that was amazing, because he's a shorter guy [5-foot-11]. To get that ball and get the double play was amazing."

2013 NL Wild Card Game: The Pittsburgh Crowd

When the Pirates advanced to the postseason for the first time in 21 years, it was an occasion fit for a party. But the sold-out crowd at PNC Park was dressed for a funeral, with all-black attire as the go-to garb. Between that intimidating attire and the sheer sound of a crowd expunging two decades of sub-.500 finishes from their memory, it was an atmosphere, from the introductions onward, that those who were on hand won't soon forget.

"Andrew McCutchen kind of led that team to the playoffs," then-Pirates reliever Jared Hughes said. "That moment when they called his name and he tipped his hat to the crowd and they went nuts is what I remember most."

Johnny Cueto had the unfortunate assignment as the starter for the visiting Reds, who never had an answer for the Pirates or the crowd in a 6-2 loss.

Video: NL WC: Pirates fans cause Cueto to drop the ball

"The crowd was electric," then-Pirates catcher Russell Martin remembered. "They were chanting Cueto's name, and Cueto ended up fumbling the ball on the mound and kind of started laughing. The next pitch, I hit a home run to extend our lead, 2-0. … The energy and the sound of the crowd as I was rounding the bases? I'll never forget that. It felt like the ground was shaking beneath me."

2015 ALDS, Game 5: The Jose Bautista Bat Flip

The Blue Jays and Rangers had staged a scintillating series, and it was 2-2 in the top of the seventh of the Game 5 finale, when the Rangers took the lead in the weirdest way imaginable (or, really, unimaginable). Martin, at catcher, was throwing the ball back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez, and the ball hit Shin-Soo Choo's bat and rolled toward third. Rougned Odor hustled home from third, and, after an 18-minute review of the situation, the umpires ruled it was, indeed, a live ball and the run counted.

"Just to think about the way they scored the go-ahead run," said Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar. "I had never felt lower on a baseball field."

But in the bottom of the inning, Bautista hit the three-run home run that they'll be talking about in Toronto for an eternity, with a bat flip that would both cause future fracases and cement his legend up north.

Video: Must C Clutch: Bautista's blast puts Blue Jays ahead

"Then, I had never been higher," Pillar added.

Heck, even at least one member of the losing team still gets goosebumps over this one.

"You felt the crowd, and it was special," then-rookie Ranger Nomar Mazara said. "We lost, but I had a great time."

2010 NLDS, Game 1: The Roy Halladay No-Hitter

Sometimes the thing that's not supposed to happen happens. Lineups that advance to October are, by default, good, and they have ample time to prepare for an opposing pitcher or, at the least, adjust to what he's doing in-game. It was one thing when Don Larsen, of all people, was perfect in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. But given the increasingly sophisticated video and statistical scrutiny of the opposition in the modern day and the overall decline of the complete game itself, an October no-hitter in more modern times just felt pretty impossible.

Until Roy Halladay did it on Oct. 6, 2010.

Video: CIN@PHI Gm 1: Halladay's historic 27 up and 27 down

"I was watching that game, and that was, like, unbelievable," Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson said. "I was watching that one all the way, watching how he attacked each hitter. I think that was really special to watch."

Halladay's gem has taken on added gravity in the wake of his tragic death last winter.

"I just remember him being part of so many underperforming teams and never being able to shine in the spotlight," Mets reliever Jerry Blevins said. "Then he gets a chance in the postseason and really proves what type of pitcher he is and on what level he is."

2016 World Series, Game 7: The Rajai Davis Homer, and the Cubs' Curse-Breaking 10th

Take a World Series matchup that features both 108-year and 68-year championship droughts, add a Game 7 that goes to extra innings, sprinkle in a little recency bias and it's no surprise that what happened at Progressive Field on the night of Nov. 2, 2016, garnered eight votes in our survey, including a few votes even from players who had nothing to do with it.

"I was in San Diego, sitting outside, and it was like 75 degrees," Pirates pitcher Steven Brault said. "Sitting outside on my parents' patio with a group of my family and a few of my friends watching the game, then the game was just incredible."

No moment from that game was more incredible than Davis' game-tying, did-that-really-just-happen dinger off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the eighth. End result aside, that's still the moment that best defines the insanity of that evening.

Video: WS2016 Gm7: Davis ties game with clutch two-run homer

"That was a good pitch, 100 [mph] down and in, and he turned on it for a homer," White Sox pitcher Jace Fry said.

Added Twins catcher Chris Gimenez, who was with the Tribe then: "Everyone in the dugout blacked out. Nobody remembers it. I mean, we remember it, but next thing you know, we were on the field celebrating like we won the World Series."

In a true "fish in a barrel" situation, we asked Davis for his favorite postseason moment of all-time.

"That's my best one," he said with a smile. "I'm not being biased. It's just my favorite moment. If I told you how many times I've watched it, it wouldn't look good for me."

Knowing Davis' homer was bound to be the pick of every Indians player who was around in 2016, we thought we might get a little variety by posing our question to rookie pitcher Shane Bieber, who was still in the Minors back then.

Nope.

"Raj's home run," he said, beaming. "I was losing my mind that game. I was in San Jose at my buddy's house. I was just absolutely losing my mind between that homer and then the back and forth and the rain delay. The whole thing was crazy."

And of course, we surveyed a few Cubs, too. So… care to guess which moment 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist went with as his postseason pick?

Video: WS2016 Gm7: Zobrist grinds out hit for go-ahead run

"Getting that hit down the line [to score the go-ahead run in the 10th]," Zobrist said. "They play it at Wrigley on the video before we run out on the field, and, every time I see it, I still get chills from that moment. It still reminds me of rounding first and getting to second and not being able to contain yourself, feeling the elation. I always think of that when I see it."

That's why we watch. And that's why we remember.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Escobar, D-backs agree to three-year deal

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed third baseman Eduardo Escobar to a three-year contract on Monday.

A baseball source said the deal was worth $21 million.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed third baseman Eduardo Escobar to a three-year contract on Monday.

A baseball source said the deal was worth $21 million.

Escobar, 29, was acquired by the D-backs from the Twins prior to last July's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Filling in for the injured Jake Lamb at third, Escobar hit .268/.327/.444 in 54 games.

Lamb, who underwent surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, is expected to be healthy when Spring Training opens, but Escobar can play multiple positions having seen time at third, short, second and all three outfield positions during his career.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Eduardo Escobar

Who has the edge? WS position by position

Red Sox, Dodgers meet in Fall Classic for first time since 1916
MLB.com @castrovince

The goal here is to do a position-by-position analysis of this World Series, but that will naturally be difficult to do with so many wonderful players involved. This Fall Classic matchup has spoiled us with the likes of Dick Hoblitzell, Zack Wheat, Hi Myers, Jeff Pfeffer, Wheezer Dell, Pinch Thomas, Dutch Leonard and, of course, 21-year-old pitching sensation Babe Ruth. It's a…

Wait, I appear to have mistakenly consulted the rosters from the last time the Red Sox and "Dodgers" (then known as the Brooklyn Robins) encountered each other on baseball's grandest stage, way back in 1916.

The goal here is to do a position-by-position analysis of this World Series, but that will naturally be difficult to do with so many wonderful players involved. This Fall Classic matchup has spoiled us with the likes of Dick Hoblitzell, Zack Wheat, Hi Myers, Jeff Pfeffer, Wheezer Dell, Pinch Thomas, Dutch Leonard and, of course, 21-year-old pitching sensation Babe Ruth. It's a…

Wait, I appear to have mistakenly consulted the rosters from the last time the Red Sox and "Dodgers" (then known as the Brooklyn Robins) encountered each other on baseball's grandest stage, way back in 1916.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX

While there won't be any Rube Marquard sightings when the present-day Red Sox and Dodgers begin their best-of-seven series on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, there will be plenty of star power assembled for these two iconic franchises.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

So let's break it down to see who has the edge in a rematch 102 years in the making.

Catcher

Yasmani Grandal was so passed-ball porous in the National League Championship Series that he lost playing time to a guy (Austin Barnes) who is 2-for-18 in the postseason. That said, Grandal was baseball's second-most productive catcher at the plate in 2018, while Boston's catching tandem of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon hit a combined .192 during the regular season. (Batting average might not tell us much, but sometimes it tells us enough.) If it's still Barnes behind the plate for the Dodgers, he, like Vazquez and Leon, is at least an asset defensively.

Advantage: Dodgers

First base

Right hamstring tightness limited Mitch Moreland to pinch-hitting duties until Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, but he went 3-for-6 with a double in the series. Meanwhile, lefty-pitching masher Steve Pearce has had some big hits against lefties and righties alike this postseason and could be a weapon against Los Angeles' three left-handed starters.

But while out-of-nowhere Dodgers star Max Muncy hasn't replicated his regular season .973 OPS in the postseason, he has hit two big postseason homers. Los Angeles also has World Series hero David Freese (3-for-10 with a homer and double this October) as an option against Boston's two southpaw starters.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: NLCS Gm6: Freese leads off Game 6 with a home run

Second base

This is where we'll advise the uninitiated that the Dodgers make these position-by-position exercises painful, because manager Dave Roberts' Swiss Army Knife-lineup style involves a lot of moving parts. So you'll see some combination of Muncy, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Brian Dozier here. That's added up to a .194/.341/.333 slash from Los Angeles second basemen this postseason.

The Red Sox have moving parts at this particular position, too, with Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt sharing time. Holt had a night for the ages with his Game 3 cycle in the AL Division Series, but on measure, Boston's postseason production hasn't been much better than the Dodgers' at second base. The X-factor is likely AL Most Valuable Player Award winner Mookie Betts, who could see time at second base in one to three games when the Series shifts to NL rules at Dodger Stadium (to keep J.D. Martinez's bat in the lineup). That possibility is enough to swing it.

Advantage: Red Sox

Video: Cora on defensive alignment, Betts at second base

Shortstop

Manny Machado has generated headlines this postseason for not hustling to first, kicking at an opponents' leg, sliding controversially into second, gesticulating rudely toward the crowd at Miller Park and being called a "dirty player." Yikes.

But if you were drafting strictly based upon what you could expect a shortstop to contribute in a short series, you would have to take Machado (.905 OPS in the regular season, .813 in the postseason) over a player even as gifted as Xander Bogaerts (.883 OPS in the regular season, .730 in the postseason).

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: NLCS Gm7: Machado on win over Brewers, reaching WS

Third base

Rafael Devers has made the most of limited opportunities on this postseason stage, with a 7-for-20 showing and a big dinger in Game 5 of the ALCS. It remains to be seen if Red Sox manager Alex Cora will ride the hot hand at the hot corner after Eduardo Nunez nursed a twisted right ankle against the Astros.

For the Dodgers, it's simpler: Justin Turner, in terms of career postseason on-base percentage (.425), is the closest thing this year's Fall Classic has to Babe Ruth (and not the 1916 model). He's actually had a quieter October outside the game-winning homer in Game 2 of the NLCS, but he's always a threat.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: NLCS Gm2: Turner gives Dodgers lead with go-ahead HR

Left field

Matt Kemp's renaissance has given way to a Taylor/Joc Pederson postseason platoon for the Dodgers. In addition to making one of the most clutch catches of October, Taylor also has a 1.143 OPS in 18 plate appearances as a left fielder this postseason.

But Andrew Benintendi had an awfully clutch catch of his own, on the heels of a breakout regular season (.290/.366/.465 slash with 16 homers, 87 RBIs and 41 doubles). Taylor is by far the hottest hitter either team employs in left, but his impact is also spread across two other positions (second and center). So we'll side with Benintendi here.

Advantage: Red Sox

Video: Benintendi talks Red Sox's clinch with Braun

Center field

It's the ALCS MVP vs. the NLCS MVP. And both of them hit exactly .200 in the round! Talk about making it count.

For the Dodgers, you'll see a little of Taylor and Hernandez in this spot, but by and large, it will be Cody Bellinger, who came through with a couple of huge late-inning hits and a sensational catch in the NLCS. Meanwhile, Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 9-RBI showing on the LCS stage (on three hits) was impressively efficient, too.

Anyway, big samples matter more than small samples, and Bellinger (120 OPS+ to Bradley's 92 mark, with twice as many Wins Above Replacement) is the more productive player.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: NLCS Gm7: Bellinger blasts a 2-run homer in the 2nd

Right field

The erratic engine that is Yasiel Puig is running awfully hot right now (.321/.406/.536 slash in 32 postseason plate appearances), and opponents have done a terrific job keeping the monster that is Betts (.205/.295/.282) in check. So maybe this is closer than it would have appeared a few weeks ago.

But the Red Sox are going to start two guys (Betts and Martinez) who will likely finish in the top five of the MVP Award voting in right field during this Series, and, well, that's good enough for us.

Advantage: Red Sox

Designated hitter, bench

The Dodgers split the DH duties between Pederson and Turner last year against the Astros, and their overwhelming array of talent, which allows for so much mixing and matching, is a major asset.

But the Red Sox have a lot of versatility and platoon prowess, too, with Holt a particularly big X-factor for them. And it should go without saying that the presence of Martinez looms large. He's hitting .313 with a .946 OPS this October.

Advantage: Red Sox

Video: ALCS Gm5: J.D. Martinez smashes a solo HR to left

Starting pitchers

If you want to get quick and dirty with it, Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill combined for a 2.82 ERA in the regular season and a 3.86 mark in the postseason (as starters) and Boston's Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello combined for a 3.48 ERA in the regular season and a 3.92 mark in the postseason (as starters).

But the postseason presents plenty of nuance, beginning with the fact that we had to even make that "as starters" notation, with Kershaw and Hill both pitching out of the bullpen for the Dodgers in the NLCS, as well as the Red Sox either using or warming all of their starters as relievers at one point or another. Does Price's minor mechanical tweak that unlocked his Game 5 brilliance have staying power? Do Buehler's innings as a rookie catch up to him? Which postseason Kershaw do we get? What are the lingering effects of Sale's illness and absence?

Red Sox to start Sale in Game 1 of World Series

Lots of interesting questions in two very good rotations. In the end, for the sake of our sanity, we'll just stick with the quick and dirty math.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: ALCS Gm5: Price leads Sox to pennant with 6 scoreless

Bullpens

The Dodgers had a reputation this season for being too dependent on Kenley Jansen for their own good, and Jansen had a rollercoaster regular season. But for all the concern caused by his irregular heartbeat and inflated homer rate, he has been spotless this October, with 6 2/3 scoreless innings. And the Dodgers' bullpen as a whole has had a sparkling 1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 postseason innings after posting baseball's second-best relief ERA in September.

As evidenced by the fact that Porcello, Price and Sale all pitched in relief in previous rounds (and Price warmed up late in Game 4 of the ALCS), the Red Sox are in more of a scramble for late-inning outs. And four of Craig Kimbrel's five outings this October have been on the shaky side, though there is some thought that he's addressed a pitch-tipping issue. That doesn't mean the Red Sox can't get the job done. They've made it this far, haven't they? But Los Angeles' bullpen appears to be in a better spot right now.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: NLCS Gm7: Jansen racks up 3 strikeouts in Game 7

Prediction

I've given the edge to the Dodgers in seven of 11 spots. What does that mean, in real terms? Absolutely nothing, because, as we know well, baseball games and series are decided not on individual positional battles, but by the cohesion of rosters, with plenty of surprise performances sprinkled in.

The Red Sox are, understandably, considered the early favorites, because they not only survived, but thrived in an AL battle that was perceived to be a showdown of superpowers.

That said, I still like the Dodgers here. They just played an NLCS in which they looked awful in three games but won anyway. That's the story of their season, in a nutshell. They have the sheer depth of talent and the versatility to overcome everything (even themselves), and I think they'll avenge last year's Series loss.

Dodgers in seven.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers

Rumors: Donaldson, Moose, Price, Kimbrel

The latest MLB free agent and trade rumors for Hot Stove season
MLB.com

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

As the postseason concludes, Hot Stove season begins. MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free agent and trade rumors right here.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason 

How does Escobar's contract impact third-base market?
Oct. 22: Eduardo Escobar was expected to be one of the top third basemen available this offseason, but he won't be hitting the open market after agreeing to a three-year deal with the D-backs on Monday.

With Escobar signed, Manny Machado potentially looking to stay at shortstop long term and Adrian Beltre likely to return to the Rangers if he opts to continue his career, Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas (if his $15 million mutual option isn't picked up) are shaping up to be the most attractive free-agent options at third base, by far. Another factor working in their favor? Neither player is eligible to receive a qualifying offer.

Beyond Beltre, Donaldson and Moustakas, the third-base market will include players such as Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Danny Valencia, Jose Reyes and Luis Valbuena.

Of those five, Sandoval led the way with 0.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per Fangraphs. The other four produced negative WAR totals, and Headley and Valencia were released before the season concluded.

Donaldson played just 52 games in 2018 due to injury problems, but he is one year removed from recording 33 homers with a .944 OPS in 113 games, and he has an American League MVP Award under his belt.

As for Moustakas, he has belted 66 home runs over the past two years, which ranks fourth in that span among those who have played at least 50 percent of their games at third base, behind Nolan Arenado, Machado and Jose Ramirez.

Even if Machado is willing to move back to third base, not every team can afford him, and only one can sign him, which means Donaldson and Moustakas could be in high demand as fallback options or lower-cost alternatives to the big prize.

World Series presents last chance for impending free agents to shine
Oct. 22: The World Series gets underway Tuesday, with the Red Sox hosting the Dodgers in Game 1 at Fenway Park. The bicoastal showdown features plenty of interesting subplots, including the looming free agency for a number of key free agents.

Manny Machado is the biggest name among them, though his free-agent case is already cemented. Regardless of how he does in the World Series, he's going to break the bank this offseason. The same goes for Clayton Kershaw, if he decides to opt out of his deal.

But several players have a lot riding on how they perform on baseball's biggest stage.

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has already boosted his stock over the first two rounds. If he can thrive against the Dodgers, it may only increase the number of teams willing to give him a lucrative multi-year offer.

On the other end of the spectrum are Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel and Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, with both players looking to put their struggles over the first two rounds in the rearview mirror.

The Red Sox think they pinpointed the root of Kimbrel's woes -- with an assist from Eric Gagne, who reportedly texted manager Alex Cora during the ALCS to let him know that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches. A dominant World Series from Kimbrel would go a long way toward convincing clubs he is worth a deal similar to those given to big-name closers such as Wade Davis (three years, $52 million), Aroldis Chapman (five years, $82 million), Kenley Jansen (five years, $80 million) and Mark Melancon (four years, $62 million) in the past few offseasons.

Grandal, meanwhile, has notably struggled on offense and defense this postseason. Given the dearth of quality catching options in the game, there shouldn't be a shortage of suitors for the backstop. But Grandal's performance in the World Series -- especially against the Red Sox, who might be in the market for a catcher -- may be a factor when it comes to the size and length of his contract offers. Of course, it's fair to wonder how much Grandal will actually play in the Fall Classic after Austin Barnes started the final four games of the NLCS behind the plate.

And then there's David Price, who can opt out of the final four years and $127 million remaining on his deal. When asked by masslive.com in September if he planned to take that route, Price replied, "Why would I leave here to go to a team that's not as good as this team? I came here to win. I don't worry about all the other stuff. Just come here to win. We're going to have a really good chance to do that."

But if Price follows up his stellar showing in ALCS Game 5 with another gem or two in the World Series, emphatically closing the book on the narrative that he can't pitch in playoffs, it would increase his chances of opting out in search of a longer deal.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Price leads Sox to pennant with 6 scoreless

Report: Seibu Lions will post Kikuchi if left-hander wants to pursue MLB opportunity
Oct. 22: Yusei Kikuchi wasn't ready to discuss his future after the Seibu Lions' season came to an end with a loss in Game 5 of the Pacific League Climax Series on Sunday, but many expect the Japanese left-hander to make a move for Major League Baseball this offseason.

According to a report from the Japan Times, the Lions said Sunday that they would make Kikuchi available to MLB clubs via the posting system if that is the route the southpaw wants to take.

As MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi noted in August, multiple MLB scouts believe Kikuchi has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter in the big leagues.

The 27-year-old has recorded a 2.77 ERA with 903 strikeouts over 1,010 2/3 innings during his career in Japan. He spent some time on the disabled list with left shoulder stiffness in 2018, but still finished with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP over 163 2/3 frames.

After Sunday's loss, Kikuchi said there were no plans yet to sit down with the Lions to discuss his future, and he declined to speculate on his next step.

"The season just ended," Kikuchi said. "I'll spend some time with my family. That's all I'm thinking about."

Pollock shaping up to be best option among available center fielders
Oct. 22: While the corner-outfield market is flush with free-agent options, including Bryce Harper, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen, Nick Markakis and Carlos Gonzalez, A.J. Pollock will likely be the most attractive center fielder available this offseason.

As a result, there should be heavy competition for Pollock's services, even though the veteran is set to turn 31 years old this December and has played fewer than 115 games in each of the past three years due to injuries.

Pollock is eligible to receive a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the D-backs, though it's not a foregone conclusion that the club will extend one his way. If he receives a qualifying offer from Arizona and subsequently rejects it, other clubs would need to forfeit one or more Draft picks to sign him, which could give some teams pause.

But Pollock ultimately shouldn't have a problem finding a home, with the Indians, Mariners, Giants, Mets and Rangers among those in obvious need of a center fielder. The Rockies could also be in that mix if they opt to move Charlie Blackmon to a corner-outfield spot and aren't comfortable with David Dahl as the everyday center fielder.

Is Girardi waiting for managerial position to open up in Chicago?
Oct. 22: Joe Girardi was believed to be a frontrunner for the Reds' managerial job before removing his name from consideration Friday. The industry speculation, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, is that Girardi, an Illinois native, is waiting for a manager job to open up with one of the two Chicago clubs.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: Girardi surprised reds by pulling out Friday. He had a chance to win job at that point but they never got to point of talking money with him. He also pulled out of rangers derby. Industry speculation: he���s waiting a year on Chicago

Girardi last managed in 2017, taking the Yankees to Game 7 of the ALCS before losing to the eventual World Series-champion Astros. During an 11-year career as a manager with the Marlins and Yankees, Girardi has gone 988-794 (.554) with one World Series title (2009).

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has one year remaining on his contract, and there was some chatter that the club would look to go in a different direction this offseason after it lost to the Rockies at home in the National League Wild Card Game, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein confirmed that Maddon would be back in 2019.

Rick Renteria will also return next season as the manager of the White Sox, but his future beyond 2019 is uncertain. Another uncertainty is whether the club would even want Girardi at the helm, as the Yankees reportedly moved on from the skipper because he had trouble connecting with young players. The White Sox are in the midst of a rebuild that will see many top prospects reach the Majors within the next one to two years to join those who have already debuted, such as 23-year-old Yoan Moncada, making Girardi a questionable fit.

Free agent market for starting pitchers headlined by Corbin, Eovaldi
Oct. 20: In a relatively thin starting pitcher market this year, the field will be headlined by left-hander Patrick Corbin and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Corbin, 29, is coming off a breakout season for the D-backs, going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA over 33 starts, earning his second career All-Star selection. According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, Corbin will be sought after by the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and Braves. Cafardo also posits Corbin could be offered a deal in the neighborhood of at least five years and $20 million to $25 million.

Eovaldi, 28, has boosted his stock ahead of free agency this winter with two stellar postseason starts for the Red Sox, Cafardo notes. The right-hander has a 1.88 ERA over two starts between the AL Division Series against the Yankees and the AL Championship Series against the Astros. Cafardo compares Eovaldi to Alex Cobb, who also returned following Tommy John surgery and landed a four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles last offseason.

Cafardo also mentions J.A. Happ, the veteran left-hander who may garner interest from the Yankees and Astros. Happ posted a 2.69 ERA in seven starts for New York after being acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays. Two other notable free-agents-to-be are Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton. Keuchel, 30, posted a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts for the Astros. Morton, 34, had another solid season (3.13 ERA over 30 starts), and could draw interest from the Yankees and Red Sox, according to Cafardo.

Machado's controversial week not expected to impact value to free agent suitors
Oct. 20: Milwaukee fans at Miller Park weren't all too happy to see impending free agent Manny Machado in Games 6 and 7 of the National League Championship Series after his controversial week, and they made their displeasure known with a hearty round of boos as Machado stepped to the plate, which turned to cheers when Wade Miley struck Machado out swinging during Game 6. Machado was seen gesturing to the crowd as if to egg them on as he walked into the dugout following the strikeout.

After hitting a solo homer and two-run single in Game 1 and following that up with a 2-for-3 showing in Game 3, Machado cooled down over the course of the week, going 1-for-12 with two walks (one intentional) in Games 4, 5 and 6. But he had a 2-for-4 showing with a pair of singles in Game 7, which the Dodgers won to advance to their second straight World Series. The first hit was particularly significant, a bunt single ahead of Cody Bellinger in the second inning. Bellinger proceeded to launch a two-run homer to give Los Angeles the lead.

The week, of course, also included the incident in which Machado clipped Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar's foot while running through first base, prompting Christian Yelich to call Machado a "dirty player," and his interview with MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in which Machado called hustling not his "cup of tea."

But through all of the controversy, Machado is still one of the most tantalizing talents in baseball entering free agency at the young age of 26, and as MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi points out, Machado's 175 homers through his age-25 season ranked fifth all-time among infielders, behind only Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Mathews, Jimmie Foxx and Orlando Cepeda.

Video: NLCS Gm6: Machado on Game 6 loss, handling the boos

Those accomplishments, as well as Machado's bounceback defense with the Dodgers, his positional flexibility and his contact rate, make it difficult for the controversy to move the needle on his free agency significantly -- a high-ranking club executive told Morosi that the impact to Machado should be "minimal," with agreement from others around baseball.

The market as a whole -- not individual front offices -- will ultimately dictate Machado's overall value come free agency, meaning that as long as interest from other clubs holds steady, his ultimate contract shouldn't be too highly affected by all the recent news.

As MLB Network insider Jon Heyman noted in an article for Fancred Sports, the Yankees should be firmly in play for Machado, especially with Didi Gregorius' recent Tommy John surgery. New York has tried to land Machado before, and Machado's interest in joining the Yankees was documented back in August, when Heyman reported that people close to the slugger were suggesting that the club was his first choice in free agency.

Heyman also said in an appearance on "The Rundown" on Thursday that the Phillies are prepared to pursue Machado and fellow uber-free agent Bryce Harper, and many expect them to come away with at least one.

"People around baseball are going to be surprised if [the Phillies] don't get at least one of these two players, and maybe both," Heyman said.

Miley continues surprising 2018 with solid Game 6 start
Oct. 20: Wade Miley might not be one of the premier names on the free agent market this offseason, but he's made a big splash this postseason due to both his solid work on the mound and his unorthodox usage in manager Craig Counsell's unique pitching plan. Couple that with his strong regular season, and he could be a solid option in free agency for teams looking for rotation depth and a veteran presence.

The left-hander hadn't allowed a run in three postseason "starts" prior to his NLCS Game 6 start on Friday, when he went 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs -- a leadoff homer and RBI double by David Freese -- while striking out four and walking two.

Video: NLCS Game 6: Wade Miley discusses forcing a Game 7

Earlier in October, he pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings at Coors Field to clinch the NLDS for the Brewers and followed that up with 5 2/3 shutout innings of two-hit ball in NLCS Game 2 at Miller Park. Though he faced a first-and-second, two-out jam in the second inning, he induced a foul pop from Freese before retiring the next seven batters in order.

The Brewers might not have been in the postseason at all had it not been for Miley, who helped stabilize the flux in Milwaukee's starting rotation by going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts, mostly from July on, after he was signed to a Minor League contract in the offseason. Gio Gonzalez will also hit free agency for the Brewers whenever their 2018 season comes to an end.

World Series Game 1: Lineups, bullpens, FAQs

MLB.com

Two of baseball's most historic teams -- the Red Sox and Dodgers -- are set to meet in what should be a thrilling World Series. The fun starts on Tuesday night at Fenway Park when arguably the two most dominant lefties in the Majors face off. Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox, and the Dodgers are waiting to decide whether Clayton Kershaw will be ready to take the ball after pitching the ninth inning of the National League Championship Series clincher on Saturday. Fellow lefty Rich Hill is likely to start if the L.A. ace needs more time (although Kershaw was spotted throwing in the Fenway bullpen Sunday night).

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX

View Full Game Coverage

Two of baseball's most historic teams -- the Red Sox and Dodgers -- are set to meet in what should be a thrilling World Series. The fun starts on Tuesday night at Fenway Park when arguably the two most dominant lefties in the Majors face off. Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox, and the Dodgers are waiting to decide whether Clayton Kershaw will be ready to take the ball after pitching the ninth inning of the National League Championship Series clincher on Saturday. Fellow lefty Rich Hill is likely to start if the L.A. ace needs more time (although Kershaw was spotted throwing in the Fenway bullpen Sunday night).

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX

View Full Game Coverage

Managers Alex Cora and Dave Roberts are good friends and former teammates. In fact, Cora and Roberts both played for the Red Sox and Dodgers. Look for Roberts to get a nice ovation when he is introduced at Fenway prior to Game 1. His stolen base in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees will never be forgotten.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

Here is a primer to get you ready for a Fall Classic that features two star-studded rosters and solid role players on both sides.

What might the starting lineups look like?
Dodgers: Roberts used a different leadoff hitter in each of the last four games in the National League Championship Series. Good luck guessing his lineup, but here's one possibility:

1. Chris Taylor, LF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. David Freese, 1B
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Matt Kemp, DH
6. Brian Dozier, 2B
7. Cody Bellinger, CF
8. Yasiel Puig, RF
9. Austin Barnes, C

Red Sox: The most balanced lineup in MLB this season now takes its act to the World Series. With Kershaw expected to pitch Game 1, Cora will likely stack the deck with right-handed hitters, as he's done against other lefties in this postseason. This means that Steve Pearce will start at first base instead of Mitch Moreland, and Eduardo Nunez at third base instead of Rafael Devers, who belted a three-run homer in the clinching Game 5 of the ALCS against the Astros. Though Cora has more or less turned the catching reins over to Christian Vazquez of late, the slumping Sandy Leon has caught Sale all season, and that could again be the case in the World Series.

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Steve Pearce, 1B
6. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
7. Ian Kinsler, 2B
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Who are the starting pitchers?
Dodgers: The Dodgers on Sunday were not quite ready to commit the start to Kershaw, who made the final 15 pitches on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Roberts said if Kershaw doesn't start the opener against the Red Sox, the nod will go to Hill and Kershaw will start Game 2 on Wednesday night. 

Video: Debating which team has the pitching advantage in WS

Red Sox: Red Sox ace Sale (12-4, 2.11) has been the best lefty starter in the AL over the past several years, so it's only fitting he faces the guy who has that same distinction in the NL. Sale will be fired up for his first World Series game. He did have issues down the stretch, pitching just 17 innings from July 28 through the end of the regular season due to left shoulder inflammation. After Sale had an impressive showing against the Yankees in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, his velocity and command were lacking in his no-decision in Game 1 in the next round against the Astros. Sale had a stomach virus right after that start against Houston and will be on nine days' rest when the World Series starts. Extra rest has generally been a good thing for Sale this season.

Video: ALCS Gm1: Sale strikes out 5 over 4 innings in Game 1

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Dodgers: The Dodgers' bullpen had a 1.45 ERA in the NLCS. Not only is Kenley Jansen back, Pedro Baez remains unexpectedly dominant and Ryan Madson is the calm in a storm. Kenta Maeda hasn't been the impact setup man as expected, but with Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson and Alex Wood, Los Angeles' bullpen is deep and versatile. Of course, the Dodgers thought they had a superb relief corps going into last year's World Series, when Jansen and Brandon Morrow appeared to wilt under a heavy workload.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Madson K's 2 over 1 2/3, earns Game 7 win

Red Sox: Boston's bullpen, much-maligned despite finishing fourth in the AL in ERA this season, had a strong showing in the ALCS. Pitchers have found their roles, and Cora has gained confidence in them. Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are the two relievers Cora trusts the most in the setup role. Closer Craig Kimbrel had struggled in this postseason until the Game 5 clincher against Houston, when he fixed an issue of tipping pitches that former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne pointed out to him, and he was dominant in closing out the Astros. The addition of Steven Wright, who missed the first two rounds of the postseason due to a right knee injury, could be a big boost for Cora and lessen the need for him to use his starters in relief.

• Wright making case to be on Sox's WS roster

Video: ALCS Gm5: Red Sox win the American League pennant

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Dodgers: No.

Red Sox: Everyone is available, assuming Wright is placed on the roster.

Any injuries of note?
Dodgers: None known. Joc Pederson started Game 7 after being hit by a 96-mph fastball on the right wrist in Game 6 but had only one at-bat, a groundout, before he was replaced after a pitcher change.

Video: NLCS Gm6: Pederson stays in after getting hit on hand

Red Sox: Nunez has been bothered by right ankle issues since the regular-season finale, so the rest between rounds will likely do him some good. Moreland injured his right hamstring in Game 2 of the ALDS and has only started once since then. He still isn't running at full speed but will probably start against right-handed starters in the World Series.

Who is hot and who is not?
Dodgers: Taylor hit a quiet .364 against the Brewers and Puig hit .333, including his crucial three-run home run in Game 7. But even in the clincher, the Dodgers went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, so there are still chinks in the offensive armor, but the one hit was Puig's blast. Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez really struggled in the NLCS, Muncy with 13 strikeouts in 22 at-bats and Hernandez going 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts. The bullpen has been nearly untouchable, but the starting rotation unpredictable.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Puig smashes 3-run homer to center in 6th

Red Sox: Considering Bradley hit .200 in the ALCS, it's hard to classify him as hot. But he has made his hits count. The three he had against the Astros added up to nine RBIs and led to the center fielder earning ALCS Most Valuable Player Award honors. Betts has shown flashes of brilliance in the postseason, but he hasn't gotten hot yet. This probably means he will. In 39 postseason at-bats, Betts is hitting .205 with no homers and three RBIs. The Dodgers have a rotation that is lefty-dominant, so it will be interesting to see how Cora deploys left-handed hitters Devers and Moreland, who have both swung the bat well when they've played this postseason. Leon continues to be close to an automatic out. Since Aug. 25, the switch-hitter has two hits in his last 52 at-bats. He has a .149 OPS over that stretch.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Bradley Jr. named MVP of the ALCS

Anything else fans might want to know?
There's a 50 percent chance of showers in Boston on Tuesday night with forecasted temperatures in the mid-40s. … This is the first time the Dodgers have played at Fenway Park since 2010. … The last time the teams met was 2016, when Los Angeles took two out of three. … Kershaw has never faced the Red Sox. … Sale doesn't have much more history with the Dodgers. He last faced them on June 15, 2012, taking a no-decision at Dodger Stadium. Sale's only other appearance against them was in relief in 2011. ... These two iconic franchises have met just once in the World Series, in 1916, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and known then as the Robins. The Red Sox won in five games in the second of three World Series titles won in four years from 1915-1918 prior to a drought that lasted until Boston again won the World Series in 2004.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers