Houston, which moved from the NL West following the 1993 season and to the American League 20 years after that, won its first AL pennant by beating the Yankees, 4-0, in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series on Saturday night.
Los Angeles, which won 104 games in the regular season, rolled through the playoffs by sweeping Arizona in the NL Division Series before dispatching the defending World Series champion Cubs in five games in the NLCS. Three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will start Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV for the Dodgers against 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.
"Quality ballclub," Keuchel said. "They led the Major Leagues in wins for a reason. They won a lot of games in a row in the middle part of the season. They're not to be taken lightly, but we're not to be either."
Like Houston, L.A. has a star-studded team that has few weaknesses. The Dodgers' lineup has power throughout, led by first baseman Cody Bellinger (39 homers) and Yasiel Puig (28 homers), who are part of a young core that includes shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the NLCS with injury. Kershaw leads a deep starting pitching staff that includes Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish, who the Astros know well from his days with the Texas Rangers. Los Angeles' bullpen, led by closer Kenley Jansen, has been dominant in the playoffs.
"They're a good team," Houston's 40-year-old designated hitter Carlos Beltran said. "There's a lot of similarities when I look at the Dodgers and look at our team. They've got talent and they seem like they really enjoy themselves, they seem like they have good chemistry in the clubhouse, which is great. It's going to be a good series."
Outfielder Josh Reddick played 47 games for the Dodgers at the end of the 2016 season and knows them as well as anyone on the Astros' roster.
"They're impressive," Reddick said. "What they did in the playoffs has been special. They've got great pitching, their lineup comes together really well. We've got all those things as well. We've got to learn how to deal with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, and keep Justin Turner and Bellinger and all those guys off the basepaths. It's going to be a challenge, but we're up for it. This is a good team, they're a good team and it's going to be a fun time."
The Astros beat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game for the 1980 NL West title at Dodger Stadium, and a year later, Houston lost to L.A. in the NL West Division Series that was implemented because of a players' strike. In 1986, longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said the Astros were "renting" first place, and Houston wound up winning the division running away.
Nolan Ryan threw his record fifth no-hitter against Los Angeles for Houston in 1981, and the teams played a 22-inning game in the Astrodome in '89. The Astros' most recent no-hitter, thrown by Mike Fiers in 2015, was against the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park in Interleague Play.
"I think a lot of us have been keeping a close eye on what they're doing," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "We just need to go in and play our game. We have a lot of momentum going in there. We've been playing these last few days, [and] they've been off. We're going to take the fight to them."
What's more, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts are close friends who text each other frequently during the season.
"To be able to manage against him in the World Series is going to be pretty special," Hinch said. "They're really good. We had our hands full with the Yankees. I watched some of their series, and we'll study up on the plane [to Los Angeles]. We'll be prepared by Tuesday, but they have the most wins in baseball for a reason."