Column: 2020 Major League Baseball World Series preview and staff predictions

Photo+by+Keith+Birmingham%2FDigital+First+Media%2FPasadena+Star-News+via+Getty+Images

Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

By Mitchell Ross, Kennedy Collier, and Max Clark

Preview

Randy Arozarena after a homer on Oct. 7, 2020, his third of the series. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Randy Arozarena after a homer on Oct. 7, 2020, his third of the series. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Americans are experiencing such tremendous loss in a way they never have before, and sports have helped ease some of the loss.

Sports bring people together, and the Major League Baseball playoffs have done just that. They have brought together east and west coast, young and old fans, casual watchers and die-hards.

Thank you, Major League Baseball, for bringing relief to so many hurting Americans.

60 regular-season games and three rounds of postseason baseball have led us to the Fall Classic. Dodgers versus Rays is the billing for the 2020 World Series, and it is a matchup of very different baseball ideologies.

In a battle of both No. 1 seeds, the big-market and big-budget Los Angeles Dodgers square off against the small-ball and penny-pinching Tampa Bay Rays.

Both LCS’ went the full seven games featuring two teams climbing back from a three-game deficit. The Rays went up early on Houston, grabbing a 3-0 series lead, only to let the Astros climb back by winning three-straight to force a game seven.

Tampa, who went the full five-game distance in the ALDS versus the Yankees, looked to their big free-agent signing Charlie Morton to silence the Astro bats in the deciding game. Morton delivered, tossing five and two-thirds shutout innings against the potent Astros lineup.

The Rays bats woke up in Game 7 as a rookie, Randy Arozarena, launched his rookie record seventh playoff home run in the first inning. That would set the tone for the rest of the game, where the Rays won 4-2.

Arozarena, 25, leads Tampa in home runs, hits and runs scored through 14 playoff games. He became the first rookie position player to win MVP of a league championship series.

For the Dodgers, it was another ticket punched to the World Series. Los Angeles will play in their third World Series in the last four years as they won Game 7 against Atlanta after trailing in the series 3-1.

Los Angeles came from behind the last three games, mainly on the strength of their timely hitting and stellar defensive plays.

Mookie Betts contributed to the defense by robbing home runs from Marcel Ozuna in Game 6 and Freddie Freeman in Game 7.

The Dodgers don’t get to Game 7 without their bats. Corey Seager slugged four home runs, knocking in 11 runs in this NLCS en route to taking home the NLCS MVP. But they don’t win without Kike Hernandez and Cody Bellinger. They hit the tying and go-ahead home runs, respectively. Julio Urias threw three innings of perfect baseball to close out and pick up the win.

This series has the makings of something special. It is a clash of baseball theory and strategy.

The Rays are competing in their second Fall Classic, their last appearance in 2008 versus the Phillies, looking to win for the first time.

The Rays don’t have very many household names in their lineup, though many are making their names known. Youngsters like Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot and longtime Ray Kevin Kiermaier look to hoist the Commissioner’s trophy at the end of the year’s last game.

Tampa plays host to a collection of bullpen arms that the baseball world has not quite seen before. Most of their bullpen will come out throwing gas, 100 MPH+ from various arm angles, which creates a tough matchup for any lineup, even the best lineup in baseball.

Manager Kevin Cash will look to his pitchers for strong outings to win this series. They have the best, most potent pitching staff in the baseball land.

The Dodgers are playing for validation. Competing in the third World Series in four years, the Dodgers hope that the third time is the charm and move the Boys in Blue over the championship hump.

Manager, Dave Roberts, will need to rely on experience and his gut to manage Los Angeles to victory. His call to pinch-hit Hernandez in the sixth inning led to the game-tying home run.

The Dodgers are resilient, falling behind 3-1 in the series and winning three-straight while facing elimination. They score more runs than any other team and more importantly, score runs with two outs. They are the definition of a well-rounded and clutch.

Predictions

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in Game Two of the National League Division Series at Globe Life Field on October 07, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts during the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in Game Two of the National League Division Series at Globe Life Field on October 07, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Max Clark:

Tampa is a hard team to beat and the Dodgers are a fun team to root against in the World Series, seeing that they can’t win a championship for the life of them. In all seriousness, the Rays bullpen could be too much for the Dodgers.

Rays in seven.

Kennedy Collier:

With everyone picking the Dodgers maybe 2020 will serve up another twist with Tampa Bay returning home champions. But, annoying Dodger fans boasting about their championship-winning team would mean a lot of suffering to the world, which is also very 2020. If a pick must be made, the Dodgers will win in six because of their offense. If they don’t, prepare for a boring Ray’s victory.

Dodgers in six.

Mitchell Ross:

They were the betting favorites going into opening day. Vegas got it right.

To quote legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, “In a year so improbable, the impossible has happened.” Though not impossible in the slightest, the Dodgers end the 32-yearlong championship drought and win the World Series.

Los Angeles will be celebrating the Dodgers and Lakers in the same year for the first time since, you guessed it, 1988.

Go crazy, Dodger fans. You’ve earned it.

Dodgers in six.