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World Series G1: Dozier leads off, Devers at 3B

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 tonight at Fenway Park, with a classic pitching matchup on tap for Game 1.

Clayton Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star, takes the ball for the Dodgers. The Red Sox counter with Chris Sale, who is also a seven-time All-Star and finished in the top five in the American League Cy Young Award voting the last five seasons. Kershaw and Sale are widely considered to the best lefties in their respective leagues for the last several years. Can it get any better than that to start a World Series?

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 tonight at Fenway Park, with a classic pitching matchup on tap for Game 1.

Clayton Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star, takes the ball for the Dodgers. The Red Sox counter with Chris Sale, who is also a seven-time All-Star and finished in the top five in the American League Cy Young Award voting the last five seasons. Kershaw and Sale are widely considered to the best lefties in their respective leagues for the last several years. Can it get any better than that to start a World Series?

View Full Game Coverage

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tonight, 8:09 ET/5:09 PT on FOX

:: World Series schedule and results ::

"Chris is a very good pitcher," said Kershaw, who beat the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series last year. "He was dominant this year. He's been dominant for a long time. I enjoy watching him compete. I have nothing but good things to say about him and the way he competes and the way he's pitched the last few years. I don't take much [stock] in the fact about the matchup, I don't really care too much, other than I'd like him to not be as good so we have a better chance of winning, for sure."

In another intriguing subplot, managers Alex Cora and Dave Roberts are good friends and former teammates. In fact, both Cora and Roberts 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 AL Championship Series against the Yankees will never be forgotten.

One factor that could become huge is the ballpark, as Fenway's unique outfield is difficult for National League outfielders unfamiliar with its dimensions. The Red Sox are 6-1 at home in their past three World Series, and they have the best home winning percentage in the history of Interleague Play (.650). The Sox also have the best run differential at plus-296; the next closest is the A's at plus-201. Notably, none of the Dodgers' starting outfielders in Game 1 -- Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez and Yasiel Puig -- have played an inning in the outfield at Fenway, and Los Angeles has not played in Boston since 2010.

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.

The starting lineups
Dodgers: Roberts used a different leadoff hitter in each of the last four games in the NLCS, and Brian Dozier, who has four doubles and three homers in his career against Sale, will bat first in Game 1 as the Dodgers go with an all right-handed-hitting lineup against Sale. Dozier has 50 career plate appearances against Sale, while all other Dodgers have a total of 31 plate appearances against him, with Manny Machado next at 22. Dozier has a .255/.300/532 career line against Sale, while Machado has a .316/.408/.579 mark versus the lefty in an extremely limited sample.

Roberts confirmed on Monday that David Freese will start and Matt Kemp will be the designated hitter. Puig generally doesn't start against left-handed pitching, but he will man right field after his three-hit performance, including a three-run homer, during the NLCS Game 7 clincher. Austin Barnes will catch again after starting the final four games of the NLCS. Whether all of those right-handed hitters can avoid the temptation of trying to pull Sale pitches over the Green Monster is one of the keys for the slug-happy Dodgers.

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

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Dodgers on facing Sox in World Series

Red Sox: The most balanced lineup in MLB takes its act to the World Series with the clear mission of continuing to set the tone. The Sox are 7-0 this postseason when they score first and 0-2 when they don't. It was also a trend in the regular season, when Boston was 74-15 when scoring first. With Kershaw starting for the Dodgers in Game 1, Cora has stacked the deck with right-handed hitters, as he did against other lefties this postseason. This means that Steve Pearce will start at first base instead of Mitch Moreland, though the left-handed-hitting Rafael Devers got the nod at third base over Eduardo Nunez.

Regarding the decision to start Devers, Cora said, "[Kershaw is] one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. But throughout the years, it's not that he's a reverse-split guy, because he's still good. But there's some trends, and I think as far as the way he attacks hitters and where he attacks hitters, it's a good matchup for us."

Though Cora has more or less turned the catching reins over to Christian Vazquez of late, the slumping Sandy Leon caught Sale the majority of the time this season and will do so again in the World Series opener.

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

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Cora, Red Sox on Game 1 of World Series

Who are the starting pitchers?
Dodgers: Kershaw makes his first Fenway Park start in Game 1 after convincing management he didn't need extra rest in the wake of throwing the final 15 pitches on Saturday night in Milwaukee. Kershaw lost his Game 1 start in the NLCS, lasting only three-plus innings, but won Game 5 with a masterful seven innings then closed out the clincher. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill will follow Kershaw in Games 2-4, respectively.

Video: Debating which team has the pitching advantage in WS

Red Sox: Sale, who has a lot of adrenaline even for starts in Spring Training, will be extra fired up for his World Series debut. 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. He made 11 starts on five or more days' rest during the regular season, going 6-2 with a 1.41 ERA. Sale doesn't have much 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.

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, Scott Alexander 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. In the postseason, Barnes, Brasier, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly have a combined 0.81 ERA and a .122 opponent's batting average over 22 1/3 innings.

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. Steven Wright, who missed the first two rounds of the postseason due to a right knee injury, was left off the World Series roster as well.

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

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

Red Sox: Everyone is available.

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. But on Monday, he said he was fine.

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 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 MVP 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. In fact, Devers is one of five players in history to hit three or more postseason homers before the age of 22. The others? Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper, with four each. Leon continues to be close to an automatic out. Since Aug. 25, the switch-hitter has two hits in 52 at-bats and a .149 OPS.

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

Anything else fans might want to know?
• There's some rain in the forecast in Boston tonight, but it is expected to clear before the game. The temperature is expected to be in the mid to high 40s.

• The distance between Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium (approximately 2,588 miles) is the longest between World Series opponents.

• Fenway Park, which opened in 1912, is easily the oldest venue in the Major Leagues. Dodger Stadium is the third oldest, opening in 1962.

• 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.

• These iconic franchises have met just once in the World Series, in 1916, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and known as the Robins. The Red Sox won in five games for the second of three World Series titles won from 1915-18 prior to a drought that lasted until Boston again won the World Series in 2004.

• The Red Sox hope to continue their dominance against NL opponents. During the regular season, the Sox went 16-4 in Interleague Play. In their last three World Series appearances, Boston combined to go 12-2 against the Cardinals (2004 and '13) and Rockies ('07).

• Cora is the third rookie manager in the expansion era (1961-present) to lead his team to the World Series. The others were Ralph Houk (1961 Yankees) and Bob Brenly (2001 D-backs). Houk and Brenly both went on to win the Fall Classic.

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

Cora: Chance that Betts starts at 2B 'very slim'

Manager reluctant to give up superstar's excellent defense in right field
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- The chances of Red Sox star right fielder Mookie Betts starting at second base when the World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) have been downgraded to "very slim," according to manager Alex Cora.

Without the designated hitter at Dodger Stadium, moving Betts to second base would have allowed Cora to keep regular starting left fielder Andrew Benintendi and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfield, along with star slugger J.D. Martinez (who made 93 starts at DH and 57 starts in the corner outfield spots this season), as Cora said Martinez will start every game in the World Series.

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BOSTON -- The chances of Red Sox star right fielder Mookie Betts starting at second base when the World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) have been downgraded to "very slim," according to manager Alex Cora.

Without the designated hitter at Dodger Stadium, moving Betts to second base would have allowed Cora to keep regular starting left fielder Andrew Benintendi and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. in the outfield, along with star slugger J.D. Martinez (who made 93 starts at DH and 57 starts in the corner outfield spots this season), as Cora said Martinez will start every game in the World Series.

View Full Game Coverage

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tonight, 8:09 ET on FOX

"He's the best defensive right fielder in the big leagues," said Cora. "He's not going to be the best defensive second baseman in the big leagues. You start moving a lot of parts, it looks like, obviously offensively, we can keep everybody together. But at the same time, is it worth it putting him at second?"

There could be occasions when Betts shifts to second base for an inning or two to accommodate in-game substitutions.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

"Kind of like [Chris] Taylor with [the Dodgers] and [Enrique] Hernandez," said Cora. "They move [them around]. There might be one inning when we feel like, 'OK, go to second, because we're going to hit.' And then we hit and then he'll go back to the outfield. But we have to be prepared."

• World Series G1: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Ian Kinsler is Boston's primary starter at second base. Brock Holt plays there sometimes against righties.

Betts has gotten some work in at second base in the days leading up to the World Series, including a tutorial on turning double plays with Dustin Pedroia.

Dress for the Fall Classic: Shop AL champs gear

In 2014, his rookie season, Betts played 14 games at second when Pedroia was injured. He also played there six innings in a game this season when Kinsler left with an injury. Aside from that, Betts has been used exclusively in the outfield in the Majors. He's a two-time Gold Glove Award winner and is likely to win again this season.

"We don't throw too many ground balls, they don't hit too many ground balls," said Cora. "I'm not worried about him making the plays but in the outfield, he's that good. It's the World Series. I'm not going to complain about it. We knew the rules coming into the tournament a while ago that we were going to play X amount of games in the National League, and good for us that if it goes seven, we only play three over there."

So with Betts set to play the outfield, the question is who will come out of the lineup in Los Angeles. In Game 3, the Dodgers have a righty starting in Walker Buehler. If American League Championship Series MVP Bradley starts a road game, it would likely be Game 3.

The Dodgers are expected to start lefties in their other two home games. Bradley has a .546 OPS against lefties in 137 plate appearances this season, including the postseason. Benintendi, also a left-handed hitter, has a .700 OPS against lefties.

If Benintendi sits, Cora expects to play Martinez in left, Bradley in center and Betts in right. When Bradley sits, it will be Benintendi in left, Betts in center and Martinez in right.

No bullpen warmup this time for Price
Given that David Price's sparkling effort in Game 5 of the ALCS came a day after he threw extensively in the bullpen during the late innings of Game 4, it was fair to wonder if he would repeat that routine leading into his start in Wednesday's World Series Game 2.

"No, I'm not going to do that tonight. I had a good catch out there a little bit ago, so I'll carry that into tomorrow," said Price.

Price tends to throw more than other pitchers the day before he starts.

Video: Price on postseason outings, importance of starters

"Just something that makes my delivery just flow a little bit better, kind of puts my arm more on time for every throw. Just puts me in a position to execute every pitch," said Price.

For a change, Price enters a postseason series without having to talk about never having won a playoff start. He finally got that elusive victory in Game 5 at Houston.

"Yesterday we had media day. I got to look forward to it for the first time in a long time," said Price. "Today it's definitely a weight lifted off of me for sure. Not like food tastes better or anything like that. But it was time. And I'm definitely glad that the time came and we moved past it. And I look forward to doing the same thing tomorrow."

Family affair
For Cora, the World Series has turned into a family reunion. His daughter, mother and brother, Joey, who is a coach for the Pirates, were all in town.

How many family members are in Boston for the World Series?

"Too many. It's getting expensive," quipped Cora. "We've got 25, I think."

Video: Cora discusses Puerto Rican pride before World Series

Cora chuckled about the most avid baseball fan in his family -- his mother, Iris -- not attending the ALCS.

"She said, 'I'll see you in the World Series.' I got mad at her," said Cora. "Honestly. I was like, when I didn't see her, I thought she was playing -- 'I'm going to surprise him.' And then she didn't come, and I called her and I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' She said, 'I'm sorry.' I felt bad afterwards. 'World Series or bust.' That's what she said."

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

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, David Price

We did a Sox-Dodgers draft, the No. 1 pick is ...

MLB.com

The fun of this World Series -- in addition to the gorgeous stadiums, historic franchises and rabid fan bases -- will be in its stars. This feels like one of those Fall Classics that we'll look back on in 30 years and marvel at how many legends played in it.

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

The fun of this World Series -- in addition to the gorgeous stadiums, historic franchises and rabid fan bases -- will be in its stars. This feels like one of those Fall Classics that we'll look back on in 30 years and marvel at how many legends played in it.

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

:: World Series schedule and results ::

So we thought: If we had the opportunity to put together a team just picking the best players from both the Red Sox and the Dodgers, to win one game, how would we do it? Thus, we got together MLB.com analyst Mike Petriello and MLB.com national correspondent Will Leitch to make them face off against each other. They each get to pick any player from the World Series roster for this one game.

The parameters: Eight position players, one designated hitter, one starter and three relievers for 13 roster spots. Leitch got the first pick. Who has the better team? One thing is for certain: There are almost too many great players to go around.

1. Will Leitch: Mookie Betts, CF, BOS
The first pick strikes me as a reasonable spot to pick the best all-around player in the postseason. I might play Betts in center field or I might play him in right … but I won't be playing him at second base.

2. Mike Petriello: Justin Turner, 3B, LAD
The Dodgers had a .612 winning percentage this season with Turner in the lineup and .483 without him. We're now a half-decade into his tenure as one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.

Video: Turner on World Series return, matchup with Red Sox

3. Leitch: Chris Sale, SP, BOS
I know this is early, but Sale is the guy I want. Just don't get anything pierced, Chris.

4. Petriello: Manny Machado, SS, LAD
Including the postseason, Machado has 40 homers this year and seemingly as many controversies. He plays a better shortstop than you think he does, and along with Turner, I've locked down a huge advantage on the left side of the infield.

5. Leitch: J.D. Martinez, DH, BOS
This theoretical one-game playoff is at Fenway Park, so I don't have to hide Martinez in the field.

Video: J.D. Martinez on Red Sox's approach to hitting

6. Petriello: Cody Bellinger, OF/1B, LAD
Perhaps a risky choice here given his postseason struggles and the fact that Will will start the lefty Sale, but the talent is undeniable. And besides, how many players do you know who regularly play first base and center field? Who does that?

7. Leitch: Max Muncy, 1B, LAD
Roy Hobbs Muncy: Look out Fenway light poles.

8. Petriello: Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD
In what almost seemed like a "down year" given another disabled list trip and much discussion about his declining velocity, Kershaw still managed a 2.73 ERA and two outstanding postseason starts in three tries -- not to mention closing out Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Video: Kershaw on the possibility of winning a World Series

9. Leitch: Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS
We expected Bogaerts to be a superstar so quickly that we've totally slept on how quietly great he has become.

10. Petriello: Andrew Benintendi, LF, BOS
The familiarity with the Green Monster helps, but Benintendi mainly feels like he does everything well, if nothing particularly great.

11. Leitch: Yasiel Puig, RF, LAD
For some reason, it feels like I need to keep Puig and Sale on the same team. (And probably still separated.)

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

12. Petriello: Kenley Jansen, RP, LAD
We need three relievers apiece, so I'll start by grabbing the one who certainly looks like he's shaken off his season-long struggles to resemble his formerly great self again. In 19 games since Sept. 1, including the postseason, Jansen has a 1.89 ERA, a .152 batting average against and a 25:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That'll play.

13. Leitch: Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS
Devers turns 22 on Wednesday. He's going to be in this league so long it will someday seem impossible to imagine him this young.

14. Petriello: Craig Kimbrel, RP, BOS
Kimbrel and the Red Sox insist that he's fixed a pitch-tipping issue that led to some of his problems this month, and if that's true, then I have two of the best closers who ever lived at near full strength on my team.

Video: Braun talks with Kimbrel on MLB Tonight

15. Leitch: Yasmani Grandal, C, LAD
It has been a rough postseason so far … but the breakout is coming.

16. Petriello: Enrique Hernandez, UT, LAD
Hernandez is my second baseman almost by default -- Ian Kinsler hasn't hit in two years, Brian Dozier has been totally forgotten and Brock Holt won't play against lefties -- but that undersells him, since he can play all over and finally hit righties this year.

17. Leitch: Pedro Baez, RP, LAD
Probably time to start grabbing some relievers. You'll notice my pattern here: I like veterans.

18. Petriello: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF, BOS
With Bellinger, Benintendi and now Bradley, my outfield defense is outstanding, and Bradley has started to slug, too. He's hitting .260/.344/.489 since the All-Star break, postseason included.

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

19. Leitch: Matt Barnes, RP, BOS
Putting my faith here in the lifelong New Englander.

20. Petriello: Steve Pearce, DH/1B, BOS
Pearce has long been one of the better lefty-mashers in the game, which I like against Sale, and he's a perfectly capable first baseman, too.

21. Leitch: Eduardo Rodriguez, RP, BOS
Gotta have a lefty specialist … so I'll go with the qualified starter.

Video: ALCS Gm3: Rodriguez strikes out Springer to end game

22. Petriello: Ryan Brasier, RP, BOS
Now I have a bullpen of Jansen, Kimbrel and the rookie who has allowed eight runs in 49 2/3 innings (postseason included) this year. Good luck with that.

23. Leitch: Joc Pederson, LF, LAD
Pederson may go 0-for-4 to start the game and then blast a three-run home run when I need it most.

24. Petriello: Chris Taylor, UT, LAD
Along with Hernandez and Bellinger, I now have the flexibility to cover any spot on the field, and Taylor can slug a bit as well. With Pearce likely playing DH in the American League park, I might end up with Hernandez at first and Taylor at second. It doesn't matter. No one stays put at one spot for long.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Taylor robs Yelich to save a run

25. Leitch: Ian Kinsler, 2B, BOS
This is a seasoned vet who surely has one big postseason moment left in him.

26. Petriello: Austin Barnes, C, LAD
That's right, I picked the nominal "backup" Dodgers catcher instead of any Boston catcher, but that's because no Red Sox catcher can hit and I'm not convinced Grandal is actually going to start ahead of Barnes anyway.

Tweet from @mike_petriello: So @williamfleitch and I drafted teams of #RedSox & #Dodgers for a hypothetical one-game playoff. Who did a better job?https://t.co/cvvnmUwwEp

Leitch's team
Catcher: Grandal
Infielders: Muncy, Kinsler, Bogaerts, Devers
Outfielders: Pederson, Betts, Puig
Designated hitter: Martinez
Starting pitcher: Sale
Relief pitchers: Baez, Rodriguez, Barnes

Petriello's team
Catcher: Barnes
Infielders: Machado, Turner, Taylor, Hernandez
Outfielders: Bellinger, Benintendi, Bradley
Designated hitter: Pearce
Starting pitcher: Kershaw
Relief pitchers: Jansen, Kimbrel, Brasier

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers

Double rainbow appears over Fenway before G1

They say you can find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But what if the pot of gold can mean any kind of treasure? Like, say, a World Series matchup of classic teams in America's oldest baseball stadium? Yeah, that sounds fitting. 

With rain falling throughout the day in Boston before clearing up in time for Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, Fenway Park played host to an amazing and beautiful rainbow cascading over the stadium: 

Pomeranz on, Workman, Wright off Sox's roster

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- In a somewhat surprising move, the Red Sox chose not to put knuckleballer Steven Wright on their World Series roster but instead added lefty Drew Pomeranz, who was inactive for the American League Division Series and the AL Championsip Series.

Wright became a weapon out of the bullpen for Boston in September, posting a 0.66 ERA in 10 outings. Heading into the playoffs, manager Alex Cora said multiple times that Wright could play a pivotal role.

BOSTON -- In a somewhat surprising move, the Red Sox chose not to put knuckleballer Steven Wright on their World Series roster but instead added lefty Drew Pomeranz, who was inactive for the American League Division Series and the AL Championsip Series.

Wright became a weapon out of the bullpen for Boston in September, posting a 0.66 ERA in 10 outings. Heading into the playoffs, manager Alex Cora said multiple times that Wright could play a pivotal role.

World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tonight, 8:09 ET on FOX

The righty was on the ALDS roster for one day, but he had to be taken off when he experienced discomfort in his surgically repaired right knee in the hours leading up to Game 1 against the Yankees.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

Cora said Wright was healthy enough to be on the roster.

"He was available," Cora said. "He put himself in the conversation. But he only actually threw one live BP and it was one of those that, for the uniqueness of the pitch, I think the matchup had to do a lot with the decision."

By rule, that made Wright ineligible for the ALCS, but he remained in play for the Fall Classic. Wright tried to prove his health by throwing to hitters and participating in fielding drills on Sunday, but it proved not to be enough for the Red Sox to trust he could stay healthy for the World Series. Wright is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee in the near future.

For the third straight round, the Sox are going with 11 pitchers and 14 position players. Pomeranz replaces Brandon Workman, who got belted around in Game 1 of the ALCS and didn't pitch again in the series.

• World Series G1: Lineups, bullpens, FAQs

Pomeranz gives Boston an extra left-hander in the bullpen in addition to Eduardo Rodriguez. Pomeranz could match up against Los Angeles' lefty bats or provide some length out of the bullpen.

Dress for the Fall Classic: Shop AL Champs gear

"Who we're playing," Cora said when asked why he chose Pomeranz over Wright. "A bunch of lefties. A bunch of righties with reverse splits. I don't get caught up in the whole lefty whatever, but we're going to play in the National League, and I lived it last year [with the Astros]. Last year, we carried one lefty. I know we've got Eddie [Rodriguez], but they manage the game, especially in a National League ballpark, it's like, in and out. Like hockey. Like, they have different shifts, you know?

"I do feel that last year, [Francisco] Liriano gave us two big outs. In Game 6 and 7, he got [Cody] Bellinger out, and I do feel if it's the series that everybody expects, he's going to give us a big out. He's throwing the ball well, actually. Worked very hard the last two weeks, three weeks. He threw that live BP. Velocity was up. Finally. We've been looking for that the whole season. He's hitting 93, 94 [mph]. As you guys know, although we didn't say it during the season, that's a big difference with him, when he's throwing that hard. It took us awhile. We talked about it two nights ago. We talked about it last night, and then late last night, we made the decision."

Here is a look at Cora's 25-man unit for the World Series.

Starting pitchers
Chris Sale's stomach no longer hurts. David Price is no longer winless as a postseason starter. Nathan Eovaldi has been dominant in these playoffs. Rick Porcello has been steady and versatile. The Red Sox are feeling confident about their rotation entering the World Series. The only question is the order Cora deploys Eovaldi and Porcello for Games 3 and 4 in L.A. It will depend on if Cora utilizes them out of the bullpen in the first two games.

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Cora on Sale starting Game 1

Relievers
Looked at as the team's glaring weakness entering the postseason, Boston's bullpen has held up rather well in the first two rounds. The pitcher who has struggled the most is closer Craig Kimbrel. But in a funny twist, it was a former Dodgers great (Eric Gagne) who diagnosed a pitch-tipping problem and texted Kimbrel about it. After making the fix, Kimbrel looked dominant while closing out the Astros in Game 5 of the ALCS. In high-leverage setup situations, Cora will most often turn to Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier. If those two are running on fumes, Cora might tap into the rotation and ask Porcello or Eovaldi for some outs.

• One Red Sox player can't recognize beardless Brasier

As for Pomeranz, the left-hander could give the Red Sox something of a platoon advantage against the Dodgers, who hit righties much better than lefties this year (as did the Red Sox, notably). Los Angeles had a .796 OPS against right-handed pitching this season -- second best in MLB behind only Boston (.817) -- compared to a .733 OPS against left-handed pitching, which ranked 13th.

Video: Cora on confidence in Kimbrel

Catchers
As they've done for most of the season, the Red Sox will go with three catchers in the World Series. Sandy Leon will again be paired with Sale despite generating just two hits in his past 52 at-bats. Christian Vazquez is likely to catch the other starters. Blake Swihart is more of a utility player than a catcher, as he can also play first base and the corner outfield spots if need be. The presence of three catchers allows Cora to be aggressive with his pinch-hitters.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm4: Vazquez slugs a solo home run to right

Infielders
The only constant for Cora in the infield is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will likely play every inning of every game. The other spots will rotate. Steve Pearce will likely play first against lefties Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill. Mitch Moreland will get the nod against righty Walker Buehler. Moreland has been an effective pinch-hitter in this postseason and over the past couple of seasons. Third baseman Rafael Devers has re-emerged as a weapon in the playoffs, but his left-handed bat could leave him in more of a reserve role in this World Series. That would leave significant playing time at third base for Eduardo Nunez, who has been spotty on both sides of the ball.

Video: Bogaerts discusses embracing World Series pressure

In the ultimate subplot, there's a chance Mookie Betts will join the infield when the festivities shift to Los Angeles for Game 3. He played second base in the Minors, and a move back to that position would allow the Red Sox to keep Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi in the outfield along with J.D. Martinez. Ian Kinsler has been the club's primary second baseman in the playoffs, and Brock Holt has also seen time there.

Video: Betts on reaching World Series, playing second base

Outfielders
Without question, this unit is the strength of the team. There were no roster dilemmas here. Betts was arguably the best all-around player in the game this year. Benintendi is in a power drought (his last homer was Aug. 31), but he remains a force in just about every other way. Bradley only had three hits in the ALCS, but they accounted for nine RBIs and he was MVP of that round.

Video: WS2018 Gm1: JBJ on hitting, having gas in the tank

Here is the complete roster:

PITCHERS (11)
Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
Nathan Eovaldi
Heath Hembree
Joe Kelly
Craig Kimbrel
Drew Pomeranz
Rick Porcello
David Price
Eduardo Rodriguez
Chris Sale

CATCHERS (3)
Sandy Leon
Blake Swihart
Christian Vazquez

INFIELDERS (7)
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Brock Holt
Ian Kinsler
Mitch Moreland
Eduardo Nunez
Steve Pearce

OUTFIELDERS (4)
Andrew Benintendi
Mookie Betts
Jackie Bradley Jr.
J.D. Martinez

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

Boston Red Sox

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

While there won't be any Rube Marquard sightings when the present-day Red Sox and Dodgers begin their best-of-seven series tonight 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

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: Tonight, 8:09 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 tonight at Fenway Park, Machado is going to get the loudest boos, and he's fine with that.

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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

Trout extension remains priority for Angels

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Now that the Angels have their new manager in place, their attention could shift to another key business matter this offseason: Exploring the possibility of a contract extension for star center fielder Mike Trout.

The two sides have not begun any formal talks, but owner Arte Moreno said Monday that attempting to lock up Trout, who is under contract for two more seasons, remains a priority.

ANAHEIM -- Now that the Angels have their new manager in place, their attention could shift to another key business matter this offseason: Exploring the possibility of a contract extension for star center fielder Mike Trout.

The two sides have not begun any formal talks, but owner Arte Moreno said Monday that attempting to lock up Trout, who is under contract for two more seasons, remains a priority.

"We've talked about this a lot of times," Moreno said following Brad Ausmus' introductory news conference at Angel Stadium. "Sometimes you have things on the back of your mind, and sometimes you have things on the front of your mind. That's one of those things that's always on the front of your mind because he's been here for eight years or so. We've known him a long time. He's such a pleasant person. He's such a great person and then you get this great athlete that you watch."

Video: Ausmus discusses being named the Angels' next manager

Trout, 27, is under control through the 2020 season after signing a six-year, $144.5 million contract extension in March 2014. He is set to earn $34 million in each of the final two years of his current deal.

Already a two-time American League MVP Award winner and a seven-time All-Star, Trout is coming off what he considers to be his best year to date. He batted .312 with a career-high 1.088 OPS, 39 home runs and 24 stolen bases, while also improving his defense in center field.

"I think this is my best overall season, offensively and defensively," Trout said last month. "The last few years defensively was kind of down, and I think the time and hard work that I put in to get the defensive statistics up showed."

Video: Must C Combo: Trout flashes glove, hits two home runs

For all of Trout's individual achievements, the Angels have yet to win a playoff game since he broke into the Majors in 2011. Their only postseason berth over that span ended in a sweep at the hands of the Royals in the 2014 AL Division Series.

Moreno acknowledged that the Angels will have to address a few holes this offseason to field a competitive team.

"We need starting pitching," Moreno said. "Bullpen help. We blew a lot of games in the last two to three innings, so just more depth, more strength in the bullpen. Offensively, probably a left-handed bat with some power to play first base. Just to fill in."

Video: OAK@LAA: Trout leaves to standing ovation in the 2nd

The Angels will likely have approximately $30 million to spend on upgrades this winter if they want to keep their Opening Day payroll commensurate with what it's been in the previous two seasons.

"I'm not going to tell you that we're going to spend a ton of money, but we're going to spend money," Moreno said.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout

These 7 pitches could decide the World Series

Fall Classic could come down to these signature offerings
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

Nothing magnifies every pitch like a World Series, and this Fall Classic features two of the best staffs in baseball.

There's talent up and down the rosters of the Dodgers and Red Sox, each of whom placed in their league's top five in virtually every major pitching category. But as the Series goes on, a handful of stars figure to be the difference between who holds the Commissioner's Trophy and who circles the 2019 season for redemption. It may come down to how well those pitchers execute their signature offerings, and so here's a look at how each of those deliveries is trending as the '18 World Series begins.

Nothing magnifies every pitch like a World Series, and this Fall Classic features two of the best staffs in baseball.

There's talent up and down the rosters of the Dodgers and Red Sox, each of whom placed in their league's top five in virtually every major pitching category. But as the Series goes on, a handful of stars figure to be the difference between who holds the Commissioner's Trophy and who circles the 2019 season for redemption. It may come down to how well those pitchers execute their signature offerings, and so here's a look at how each of those deliveries is trending as the '18 World Series begins.

Chris Sale: Four-seam fastball
This might be the biggest question mark entering the Series, with the most profound implications: Will Sale, who battled shoulder and stomach ailments through the American League side of the postseason, have his 'A'-level heater?

When Sale's four-seamer crests between 96-100 mph, he's the most imposing starting pitcher in baseball. But we haven't seen that fastball in several months. Sale's downward velocity trend has been noted elsewhere in advance of Game 1, but it's worth highlighting again:

Sale's average four-seam fastball velocity, 2018
April-Aug.:
95.5 mph
Sept.: 93.0 mph
ALDS Game 1: 94.6 mph
ALCS Game 1: 92.0 mph

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

Sale's fastball velocity allows him to set up his slider and changeup and be a premier strikeout artist. But his starts can be a slog when that velocity dips. That was the case in ALCS Game 1 against the Astros, when he notably recorded just six swinging strikes over 86 pitches and lasted just four innings. Another brief outing in Game 1 would echo across Boston's bullpen; starter Rick Porcello would need to log more innings from the bullpen, as would the next pitcher on our list …

Clayton Kershaw: Slider
It's been well documented: Kershaw has evolved this season into a breaking ball-dominant pitcher, and in three of his four outings this October he has shown how dominant he can still be with the approach. Kershaw recorded all nine of his strikeouts in NLCS Game 5 on breaking balls, including seven on his slider.

Video: NLCS Gm5: Kershaw deals, offense downs Brewers in win

That slider is one of baseball's best pitches when Kershaw has his feel for it, and right now it appears he does. The southpaw showed a healthy 2.3-mph separation between his slider and fastball in Game 5 against Milwaukee, while also featuring the most vertical movement (or "drop") on that pitch since mid-June. The Red Sox hit breaking balls well -- most especially Steve Pearce, whose .630 slugging percentage against curves and sliders led MLB -- but Kershaw can neutralize any lineup when he's right.

Kenley Jansen: Cutter
You're likely familiar with this pitch; Jansen throws it anywhere between 80-90 percent of the time in a given year. But after a rocky second half filled with health scares and home runs, it's noteworthy that Jansen's cutter is back to the pitch we're accustomed to seeing, particularly in terms of velocity:

Jansen's cutter velocity, 2018

Pre All-Star break:
92.1 mph
Aug.: 92.5 mph
Sept.: 91.8 mph
Postseason: 93.0 mph

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

Jansen's hard-hit rate (balls hit with 95-plus mph exit velocity) is down to a more characteristic 25 percent during the postseason, where he's allowed only four baserunners out of 24 batters faced. He may be called upon for several multiple-inning saves against Boston, and looks like he's back in prime form to do so.

Craig Kimbrel: Knuckle curve
Kimbrel is navigating one of the rockiest stretches of his career, and the way his opponents are spitting on his secondary pitch is likely one reason why. Hitters are holding off on Kimbrel's curve, choosing instead to sit on his elevator fastball.

Kimbrel's swing rate induced on curveballs, 2018

Through Aug.:
38.7 percent
Sept.: 37.5 percent
Postseason: 22.7 percent

When Major League hitters can hone in on one pitch, they do damage, even if it's a fastball as good as Kimbrel's; the Yankees and Astros hit .313 and slugged .438 against his heater over the first two rounds. And Kimbrel has a vested interest in getting hitters to swing at his curve, since it's been one of the best in average allowed and whiff-per-swing rate over the last two seasons. The Dodgers were the most disciplined lineup in baseball this year, and their ability to lay off Kimbrel's hook could be huge in a tight game.

David Price: Changeup
Price got the monkey off his back in ALCS Game 5, and did so with an approach that's worked for many pitchers in October: He took a little something off. The southpaw went with a changeup on roughly 42 percent of his deliveries against Houston for his highest usage rate on that pitch of any start in his career.

It was a break in form for one of the most fastball-reliant starters in the game, but it was super effective. The Astros swung and missed Price's changeup 12 times, struck out against it five times and wound up hitless in 10 at-bats. The Dodgers, meanwhile, posted the NL's highest slugging percentage against fastballs and feature a number of hitters who like to pull the ball. Price's changeup could keep them honest in Game 2, and enable him to go more to his preferred spot inside against righties with his fastball assortment.

Walker Buehler: Four-seam fastball
The Dodgers' young ace possesses one of the best four-seam velocity and spin combinations of any starter in baseball, and it was a dominant pitch in the regular season. No starter who ended at least 100 plate appearances with a four-seamer allowed a lower batting average than Buehler, and only three starters compiled a lower hard-hit rate on the pitch. Thrown in tandem with Buehler's sinker and cutter, this pitch often overwhelms.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Yelich crushes solo homer to right-center

But while Buehler's velocity has remained intact, October adrenaline has made his fastball a little wild. The right-hander has grooved twice as many four-seamers in the heart of the zone than he did in the regular season, and the Braves and Brewers slugged .543 against it. That includes Ronald Acuna Jr.'s grand slam in NLDS Game 3, an at-bat that Atlanta's phenom worked to a 3-1 count thanks to Buehler's errant command. Christian Yelich's home run in NLCS Game 7 also came off a Buehler fastball right down the middle.

There's no question Buehler has the stuff for October, but he'll need to show he can slow the heartbeat appropriately, too.

Nathan Eovaldi: Four-seam fastball
Eovaldi is experiencing anything but a velocity issue. The righty threw fastballs clocked by Statcast™ at 101.6 and 101.1 mph during his strikeout of Astros star Alex Bregman in ALCS Game 5, marking his two fastest pitches of the season. In fact, 11 of Eovaldi's 15 fastest deliveries of 2018 have come in October, and all but one of those top 15 were recorded after the calendar flipped to September.

Video: ALCS Gm5: Eovaldi fans Bregman with 101.6-mph heater

In other words, Eovaldi is peaking at exactly the right time for Boston, which will now in all likelihood possess the two hardest throwers in this series between Eovaldi and Joe Kelly. Velocity isn't the only key to pitching, but it can certainly overwhelm at times -- particularly in pressure situations, like just about every inning of a World Series. The Dodgers, for what it's worth, hit .197 against pitches 98 mph or faster during the regular season, seventh-worst among the 30 MLB offenses. L.A. loves to swing for the fences, but Eovaldi's heat could combat that either at the start of a game or out of the bullpen in relief.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers