3 key storylines for Game 3 of the World Series

October 30th, 2023

You know what it looks like? It looks like we’re going to have a long World Series.

We suppose it’s possible that one team sweeps the next three games in Phoenix and this thing is over by Wednesday night. But the way these two teams have played, the way they’ve been resilient and versatile and generally indefatigable, it’s tough to imagine either one of them rolling over like that. We haven’t had a seven-game series since 2019. It sure seems like we might be in for one now.

Here’s a look at three key storylines for Game 3 of the World Series on Monday night.

Rangers at D-backs
Series tied 1-1
Max Scherzer vs. Brandon Pfaadt
8:03 p.m. ET, FOX

Storyline No. 1: Does the likely future Hall of Famer with a distinguished October track record have a chance against the rookie who went 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA this year?
Certainly, heading into the postseason -- or really at any other point at all in baseball history -- Rangers fans would feel particularly thrilled about a matchup between (Max Scherzer!) and , a 25-year-old rookie with fewer than 100 career innings pitched entering the playoffs. But there are more questions about Scherzer right now than Pfaadt. Scherzer has thrown 6 2/3 innings in a month and a half, those coming in two starts during the ALCS, and has allowed seven runs.

Meanwhile, Pfaadt has been everything the D-backs have hoped for years that he would eventually turn into, giving up just five runs in his four postseason starts, all of which have ended in Arizona victories. (Our own Mike Petriello did a fantastic explainer on the adjustments Pfaadt has made to become so dominant.)

Scherzer looked better in his most recent start, and he is clearly still building up strength; he is Max Scherzer, after all. But based on recent performance, Pfaadt looks like the guy you can count on more. Crazy, right?

Storyline No. 2: Which struggling star is going to break out first?
It is downright disorienting to see -- one of the better players in baseball for nearly a decade now -- looking utterly helpless at the plate. He’s 12-for-62 this postseason with just two extra-base hits, and because he remains atop the order, it feels like he’s coming up and disappointing every other inning. Meanwhile, on the D-backs’ side, has gone 8-for-48, including 1-for-9 in the World Series. Walker, unlike Semien, at least hit the ball hard in Game 2 (it seems like every D-backs player hit the ball hard in Game 2), so there are signs he may be breaking out of it, but one of these guys could make all the difference by suddenly getting hot. Arizona has enjoyed Ketel Marte and Tommy Pham this series, and the Rangers have enjoyed Adolis García and Corey Seager. Will Walker or Semien step up and be the third leg of the stool?

Storyline No. 3: Will the Rangers ever lose on the road? 
The 1996 Yankees clinched the World Series -- on that famous Charlie Hayes catch in foul territory -- at Yankee Stadium, winning the Yanks’ first title in 18 years. Because that clinch happened at home, history has forgotten a little bit what was truly great about the Yankees that postseason: Their dominance on the road. They won eight straight road games that year, including three at Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium, which has stood as the postseason record … until the Rangers went out and tied it this season. This is the first series where the Rangers have had home-field advantage, and they are in this World Series in the first place because of their ability to win on the road: they took two in Tampa Bay, two in Baltimore and then four (!) in Houston. They now head to Phoenix to play in front of an Arizona crowd that hasn’t seen a World Series game in 22 years.

If Texas can remain undefeated on the road, this series won’t be headed back to Arlington. But the Rangers would happily take two of these three, even if they can’t get a road sweep. We’re about to find out just what kind of road warriors the Rangers really are. It sure looks like the factor that could determine this series.