Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

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 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.

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 NLCS. He confirmed on Monday that David Freese will start and Matt Kemp will be the designated hitter. Yasiel Puig generally doesn't start against left-handed pitching, but he's coming off three hits, including a three-run homer, during a Game 7 clincher and the other right-field candidate, Enrique Hernandez, was 1-for-14 in the NLCS. Brian Dozier has four doubles and three homers in his career against Sale. Austin Barnes is expected to 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.

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

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 will likely stack the deck with right-handed hitters, as he's done against other lefties this postseason. This means that Steve Pearce will start at first base instead of Mitch Moreland, and Eduardo Nunez could be 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 caught Sale the majority of the time this season and will do so again in the World Series opener.

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

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, 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. 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. The potential 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. The Red Sox will wait until Tuesday morning to announce whether Wright is on the roster.

• 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. 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 four players in postseason history to hit three-plus homers before the age of 22. The others? Mickey Mantle, Andruw Jones, Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper, who have 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 on Tuesday night, 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

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: Tonight, 8:09 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

Former teammates make history as WS skippers

114th World Series is first to feature two minority managers
MLB.com @castrovince

BOSTON -- Alex Cora and Dave Roberts share a history. The two-and-a-half seasons they spent together with the Dodgers in the early 2000s formed a friendship that has lasted to and will last through this World Series, whatever the result.

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

BOSTON -- Alex Cora and Dave Roberts share a history. The two-and-a-half seasons they spent together with the Dodgers in the early 2000s formed a friendship that has lasted to and will last through this World Series, whatever the result.

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

And as the Red Sox and Dodgers begin the Fall Classic on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, these two friends are making history, too.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

The 114th edition of the World Series is the first to feature two minority managers -- a fact that is not lost on the Puerto Rican-born Cora or on Roberts, who is half-Japanese and half-black.

"It's special," Roberts said. "And it's not about myself or Alex. It's just to see minorities get opportunities and perform and do well, I think that gives opportunities for others. So there's responsibility, that I know that Alex shares, to do things the right way and to be good leaders. Up to this point, I think we've done a pretty good job."

For Cora, becoming the first World Series manager born in Puerto Rico takes on an added level of resonance after last year's devastating hurricanes.

"I'm proud to be here," Cora said. "I'm proud representing not only all the Puerto Ricans that live on the island but Puerto Ricans all around the world. We know what happened last year. It was a tough one. And Maria kicked our ass, you know. As a country, we've done an outstanding job fighting. We're standing up on our own two feet."

So this Series -- which begins on a street recently renamed from Yawkey Way to Jersey Street because of the alleged racist past of Tom Yawkey -- has historic value attached to it even before the first pitch is thrown and as the national pastime continues its broader efforts to ensure rosters, coaching staffs and front offices more accurately and justly represent the country in which it resides.

With the number of black players on the rise, with diversity-focused development camps like the Dream Series and the Baseball and Softball Breakthrough Series offered by MLB, and with the Diversity Pipeline Program fostering more opportunities for women and racial minorities, the sport is doing what it can to remove barriers for entry.

Roberts', Cora's best moments playing for their WS opponents

The backgrounds of this year's pennant-winning skippers are one small part of the bigger picture.

"It's great," Red Sox starter David Price said. "I know what A.C. has meant to us all year long, ever since he's been here. And Mr. Roberts over there, I see how well he's had the Dodgers play ever since he's been there. Two fairly new managers, two guys who I feel command respect in their locker rooms -- from their players and coaches -- it's good to see."

Video: Sale discusses Cora's consistency, composure

The two skippers' shared background is meaningful, too. Something must have been gleaned from their many baseball conversations back in the day, because today Cora and Roberts are similarly valued and respected for the communication and relationship-building that makes their mixing-and-matching lineup strategies work so well.

All Roberts has done in three seasons with the Dodgers is win three division titles and two National League pennants. And all Cora has done in his rookie year is win 115 games, counting the American League Division Series and AL Championship Series triumphs.

These are, in other words, two successful men. And neither man is surprised by the success of the other.

Cora remembered seeing a confident quote from Roberts about the Dodgers' division chances when they were still in the midst of the early-season spiral that would put them 10 games under .500.

Video: MLB Tonight talks World Series managers' connections

"I still remember D.R. saying something like, 'We will win the West,'" Cora said. "I read it and I was like, 'D.R. is crazy.' But that's who he is. He's very positive, he has a great pulse of that clubhouse and team."

When Roberts was first interviewing for the Dodgers' gig, he tried to talk Cora into potentially joining his staff, but Cora, who was enjoying a lighter schedule with ESPN and the ability to be a regular part of his daughter's life in Puerto Rico, was not yet interested in taking that plunge. But Roberts was obviously on to something.

Video: Roberts discusses Cora, minority managers

"He has a crazy passion for the game of baseball," Roberts said of Cora. "Very detail-oriented, always curious about strategies and the why. He has that ability to really focus for three hours. And lastly, he connected people. He was always a leader. So he checks a lot of boxes. So to see him in this position, no surprise."

Both Roberts and Cora have come a long way from that day in July 2004, when Roberts got the news that he had been traded to the Red Sox and was devastated. It was Cora who tried to perk him up, reminding him that he was going to a place where people live and breathe baseball and that an enormous opportunity awaited. And when Roberts notched that stolen base in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees that is so meaningful to people here that it might as well have been included in the Book of Genesis, it was Cora who texted him and told him, "I don't know what's going to happen here, but, if this happens [and the Red Sox end the 'Curse of the Bambino'], you're going to be a hero."

Video: Alex Cora on playing with Dave Roberts in '04

Roberts and the Red Sox made history that year, and now Roberts and Cora are making history on this year's Fall Classic stage. It's but a small subplot of this World Series, but for two men who have great respect for each other and great understanding of what the game does and can represent, it's a substantial one.

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

Kershaw to make 1st Fenway start in Game 1

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

BOSTON -- After Clayton Kershaw starts Game 1 of the World Series for the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, manager Dave Roberts said Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 2 on Wednesday night on the road and Walker Buehler will start Game 3 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Roberts did not confirm Rich Hill for Game 4, but that's how it sets up, with Kershaw Game 5, Ryu Game 6 and Buehler Game 7, as they did for the National League Championship Series.

BOSTON -- After Clayton Kershaw starts Game 1 of the World Series for the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, manager Dave Roberts said Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 2 on Wednesday night on the road and Walker Buehler will start Game 3 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Roberts did not confirm Rich Hill for Game 4, but that's how it sets up, with Kershaw Game 5, Ryu Game 6 and Buehler Game 7, as they did for the National League Championship Series.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

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

Ryu will be starting two games on the road, which he did in the NLCS while recording an 8.59 ERA. But management would prefer to get two starts from Ryu over Hill, as Ryu finished the season stronger. Hill also is more adaptable to relief should he be needed in Games 6 or 7.

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

Video: Dave Roberts on who will start Game 2 and 3

At his Monday news conference, Kershaw found another way to say how badly he wants to win a World Series.

"When we go to the postseason six times in a row, it becomes that much more evident that we're very fortunate to be on a great team," he said. "But we're still missing that ring. There's no secret that we want to win."

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

Machado offers tips
As a former player in the American League East, Manny Machado knows Fenway Park, so it was no surprise the former Baltimore Orioles star spent part of Monday afternoon briefing his teammates on the uniqueness of the stadium, like the Green Monster and the Pesky Pole.

"You guys know this ballpark," a jovial Machado said to media before the workout. "I don't need to let you guys know. I need to let my teammates know."

Machado -- who sports a .278 batting average, a .315 on-base-percentage and is slugging .468 in 49 games at Fenway Park for his career -- has driven in 32 runs and hit eight home runs in Boston, including a 466-foot blast last season.

Video: BAL@BOS: Machado mashes 466-ft. shot over the Monster

 "The ballpark can have an impact both positively and negatively," Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward said. "From a positive standpoint, there's a certain style of pitchers and certain style of hitters that you would want to use that big wall to your advantage, but on the flipside of that, there are some guys you don't want even to think about that wall. But knowing our hitters, the wall can play to our advantage."

Pederson healthy
Joc Pederson, who became a father during the NLCS, is looking forward to holding his newborn daughter and hitting at Fenway Park, two more signs his right wrist is fine.

"The wrist is good," he said. "It's all good. Zero limitations."

Video: MLB Tonight: Pederson on back-to-back WS, Fenway Park

Pederson, who was struck on the wrist by a 96-mph fastball from Corey Knebel in Game 6 of the NLCS, started in left field and led off Game 7 with a groundout in his only at-bat.

"[Family] is coming out to see me and I'm pretty excited about that," Pederson said. "I've missed them. They weren't in Milwaukee."

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

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

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.

Sox, LA rely on starters in age of 'bullpenning'

MLB.com @castrovince

BOSTON -- For the Dodgers and Red Sox, the best chance to win this World Series is a formula that has been followed for many, many years: Get the absolute most and best you can from your starting pitcher, and then figure out the rest.

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

BOSTON -- For the Dodgers and Red Sox, the best chance to win this World Series is a formula that has been followed for many, many years: Get the absolute most and best you can from your starting pitcher, and then figure out the rest.

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

Clayton Kershaw is a Hall of Fame-caliber ace, and Walker Buehler a developing one. David Price and Rick Porcello are former American League Cy Young Award winners, while Chris Sale has come close a time or six. Toss in Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nathan Eovaldi -- all of whom have had moments of greatness in this 2018 run -- and there's an awful lot of starting-pitching pedigree that will be on display during this year's Fall Classic.

:: World Series schedule and results ::

"Both teams have four good starters that they can call upon," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "They have to do their job so that the 'pens are not overexposed. We're getting ready to play five games in six days, so you have to be conscious of how you use the bullpen and how many times they're going to be called upon. So the starters are still a little traditionalist as far as that goes."

• World Series gear: Dodgers | Red Sox

But the mid-game moment will inevitably arise when it's time to go to the bullpen. And if we know anything at all about this 2018 postseason and the way it's played out -- especially with "bullpenning" being all the rage -- that's when things will get really interesting.

• World Series Game 1: Lineups, bullpens, FAQs

For the Red Sox, "bullpenning" is not the method of the moment. You could almost say "startering" is.

Rookie manager Alex Cora called upon Porcello to be his eighth-inning setup man in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees and again in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against Houston. He used Sale in the same role in the Game 4 clincher in the first round against the Yankees, and Eovaldi in relief during the Game 5 clincher in the ALCS. Cora also had Price warming in the bullpen when Andrew Benintendi made that epic catch to end Game 4 in Houston.

It is, therefore, not unreasonable to suspect we might see a similar setup situation evolve in Games 1 or 2 at Fenway Park.

Video: ALCS Gm2: Porcello K's 2 during a perfect 8th inning

Cora has not committed to a pitching plan beyond Sale as his Game 1 starter and Price in Game 2, because the possibility that Porcello sees another early setup opportunity is very much on the table. The trust Cora has in his starters to get him key late-inning outs in a pinch is implicit.

"I think it boils down to knowing personality and knowing players," Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly said. "All of our guys have done it before, so it's not anything new. Sale came up as a reliever, Price did it in the bullpen last year, Eovaldi's done it, Rick's done it in Detroit. Alex knows all of that stuff, and, if a guy's ready, Alex has confidence in him."

• 7 pitches to look for in the World Series

Contrary to what the "starter as a setup guy" formula might suggest, the traditional bullpen -- you know, the actual relievers -- has given Cora reason to be confident, too, even though there was much hand-wringing in Red Sox Nation when the team did not reel in a relief prize at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and then when things looked really hairy going into October.

Kelly (one earned run in 5 1/3 innings), Matt Barnes (one earned run in 6 1/3 innings) and Ryan Brasier (no earned runs over seven innings) have been fantastic this postseason. The relief corps has stranded all 14 inherited runners over the last eight games. Actually, Boston's shakiest reliever right now is its best: Craig Kimbrel, who hasn't commanded his curveball well. Though even with Kimbrel, there is confidence that he ironed out a pitch-tipping issue after a terrific outing in the ALCS clincher.

Video: Cora on confidence in Kimbrel

But the Dodgers appear to be in an even better spot with their bullpen going into this World Series. Their relievers have faced questions this year, as well, with closer Kenley Jansen battling an irregular heartbeat and an inflated home-run rate in the regular season.

In the postseason, however, Jansen has been his old, lights-out self (6 2/3 scoreless innings with a .091 average against), and the rest of the 'pen has followed suit. Ryan Madson, Caleb Ferguson, Pedro Baez and lefties Dylan Floro and Julio Urias have combined for two earned runs allowed in 24 innings. The biggest hangup has been converted starter Kenta Maeda, who has not been the same lockdown option this October that he was on the run to last year's World Series.

• Who has the edge? WS position by position

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

Los Angeles' predominantly left-handed rotation (Kershaw, Hill and Ryu) could set up well against a Red Sox lineup that posted a regular-season OPS roughly 100 points lower against lefties (.719) than righties (.817). The challenge will be knowing who to trust when the starter fades, especially against a Boston lineup that had baseball's best team OPS (.940) the third time through the order by 51 points.

"We still need Kenta," Honeycutt said. "Our lefties [in the bullpen], instead of handling full innings, can probably just [handle] individual matchups. But the right-handers are going to be tested by this lineup, for sure."

Video: NLCS Gm1: Maeda catches Kratz looking in the 8th

The Dodgers know too well how quickly confidence in a bullpen can evolve. They went into last year's World Series having set a record with 23 consecutive scoreless innings from the bullpen. But when the 'pen broke late in Game 2, the series was irrevocably changed. It became a seven-game set in which no lead was safe.

"I do think that with us last year there was a little bit of overexposure with our 'pen with the Astros," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

So as good as these two clubs might feel about the state of their relief situations, the oldest formula is still the preferred one here. We don't know how long the starters will last in these games, and we don't know how long they'll last in this industry. But for now, for this moment, for this Fall Classic, startering is still a thing.

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

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/5:09 PT 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

Escobar, D-backs agree to three-year deal

Versatile infielder gives Hazen options for roster construction
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs made their first move of the offseason Monday by signing Eduardo Escobar to a three-year contract worth $21 million.

The deal puts a quality player under contract for a reasonable price. What it does not do, however, is answer the question of whether the D-backs plan on competing in 2019 or if they instead will trade some of their veterans and retool.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs made their first move of the offseason Monday by signing Eduardo Escobar to a three-year contract worth $21 million.

The deal puts a quality player under contract for a reasonable price. What it does not do, however, is answer the question of whether the D-backs plan on competing in 2019 or if they instead will trade some of their veterans and retool.

"I would ask and caution not to read into either side of those things, as much as I know fans are definitely going to want to do that," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "We totally understand. It's a long process for the offseason. We still have some holes to fill, especially the pitching side of things and there's going to be a lot of work left. This is a great first step for us but that's what it is."

Escobar, 29, was acquired by the D-backs from the Twins prior to last July's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and he filled in for the injured Jake Lamb at third, hitting .268/.327/.444 in 54 games.

Video: LAD@ARI: Escobar rips walk-off HR vs. Dodgers in 9th

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. That versatility gives the D-backs a lot of flexibility, both on the field next year as well as with what they want to do this offseason.

Should the D-backs choose to deal first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who will be a free agent after the 2019 season, Lamb could slide over to first base.

If the D-backs were to trade shortstop Nick Ahmed, then second baseman Ketel Marte could move to short and Escobar could play second.

Or if none of those things happen, Escobar could be a super-utility-type player bouncing around multiple positions.

"We foresee him being in the lineup every day," Hazen said. "What that ultimately looks like, we're not ready to talk through that just yet, but we foresee him being in the lineup every day. How this is going to ultimately look at the end of the offseason, that's obviously still to be determined, but we feel like there are at-bats and opportunities for playing time, even as currently constructed."

Video: Gilbert on offseason moves for D-backs, Goldy, more

Hazen met this month with managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall to discuss the team's direction, and all parties agreed that Hazen and his staff would get a feel for the trade and free-agent markets before deciding.

After a couple of weeks, Hazen has begun to get a sense of the trade market, but the talks will become more real when it gets closer to next month's General Managers Meetings.

"We're getting some idea," Hazen said. "We've probably covered a majority of the league at this point. It's still very early in the process in terms of feeling out what other teams are looking to do, teams are in the same boat as we are as they look to assess what they may look to do come the offseason time."

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

Arizona Diamondbacks, Eduardo Escobar

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 Aguila