In a season that has been unlike any other, it is fitting that this is all ending with a bang. Either it’s going to end Tuesday in a Game 6 that gives the long-suffering Dodgers fans their first World Series title in more than 30 years, or … we’re getting
In a season that has been unlike any other, it is fitting that this is all ending with a bang. Either it’s going to end Tuesday in a Game 6 that gives the long-suffering Dodgers fans their first World Series title in more than 30 years, or … we’re getting a Game 7. Either way, we win.
Here’s a look at the top Game 6 storylines:
• TB-LA World Series Game 6 FAQ
1. Are the Rays ever going to get a good start?
You can argue about the utility and importance of a “quality start” -- pitching six innings or more and giving up three earned runs or fewer -- but it’s fair to say that they have some value. Well, the Rays, a team that was meant to be led by the top three of their rotation, have had only one quality start this entire postseason: Tyler Glasnow in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Blue Jays (6 IP, 2 ER, 8 K’s, 1 BB). It’s not that Tampa Bay should somehow push Blake Snell into the seventh inning in Game 6, but it sure would be nice for the Rays to have the starting pitching advantage at some point in this series. In theory, they should in this game … but it’s up to Snell to make it easier on them for once.
2. How much will the Dodgers push their bullpen?
The Dodgers’ whole pitching strategy in this Fall Classic is to throw Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler twice, Julio Urías once and then mix and match the other two games. One of those mix-and-match games is coming, it turns out, right when they’re trying to clinch a title. It’s not like the Dodgers’ bullpen has been shutting the Rays down: They have a 5.57 ERA for the Series. They should be fully rested after Monday’s off-day, and there certainly are a lot of relievers available, but this is Game 6 of the World Series: They need to start putting some zeros on the board.
• Dodgers' pitching plan works to perfection
3. Can the Rays’ lineup outside of Randy Arozarena continue their slow march forward?
For all the talk of the Rays’ offense being “Randy and all the guys who aren’t Randy,” it’s worth noting that Arozarena doesn’t actually have the highest OPS of the club’s regulars in the World Series: That would be Kevin Kiermaier, of all people. But it’s not just him: Manuel Margot, Yandy Díaz and Michael Brosseau have started to hit as well. The disappointments remain, though: Brandon Lowe (whose three homers are his only hits of the series), Joey Wendle, Willy Adames and Austin Meadows, all of whom are under the Mendoza Line. The Rays will have plenty of opportunities to mix and match with all of the presumed Dodgers pitching changes, and they need to eke out every run they can. Otherwise, the wait for Lowe and company to get going is going to run out of time.
• Arozarena owns playoff hits, HR records
4. Are the Dodgers trying to win the World Series on their home field?
It has, quite notoriously, been since 1988 that Los Angeles won the World Series. But here’s a fun fact: The last time the Dodgers won a World Series at home -- and the only title they ever clinched at Dodger Stadium -- was in ’63. The rest of the club’s World Series victories have been clinched on the road. This Fall Classic, of course, is being played on a neutral field in Texas, but if you’ve been watching these games, there’s no doubt who the real home team is.
It’s not the same as winning at Dodger Stadium. But Dodgers fans make up a much higher percentage of the fans in Arlington than they have at any other potential World Series clincher in nearly 60 years. It’s not nothing.
5. Just for the sake of discussion … who’s the MVP?
If the series does happen to end on Tuesday night, the discussion for the Most Valuable Player Award will be fascinating. Corey Seager is hitting .471. Justin Turner has four more extra-base hits than he does. Max Muncy leads the team in RBIs and is reaching base at a .522 clip. But do you want to deny Kershaw his two wins in the World Series that we’ve all been waiting for him to have? And don’t count out Buehler if the Rays force a Game 7 and he wins it. For that matter: If Tampa Bay wins Game 6, Arozarena would be back on the table, as well as Kiermaier. There have been so many stars this series. Maybe they should all just share it.
6. Do the Rays have one more shocker left in them?
There have been several moments in this series when the Rays looked, if not done, exactly, at least in a peck of trouble. This is another one of those moments, down 3-2, with struggling starters and a Dodgers lineup eager to feast. But is this any darker than it looked when Brett Phillips was at the plate with two outs and a one-run deficit in the ninth inning of Game 4? This team has fought back at every opportunity, all season long: This is the third consecutive series it has been facing elimination, after all, and it is still here. Put nothing past the Rays. They always seem to have one more trick up their sleeves.
7. Can the Dodgers finish their breakfast?
Listen to LeBron: The Dodgers haven’t done anything yet. They were one win away in 2017, and then the Astros pounced all over Yu Darvish in the first two innings of Game 7. The Dodgers have built their entire roster, reconstructed their entire franchise, to earn this one … last … win. They have two chances to claim it. But the longer it takes them, the more that fear can’t help but rise, that nagging worry … is this ever going to happen? Los Angeles best take care of this now. Because a Game 7 has the potential to awaken all sorts of old demons. The Dodgers have worked so hard to get to this exact point. They better finish it off now, while they have the chance.