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2023 World Series Preview


Oct. 27, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley


So it comes down to this. The NL 6-seed and the AL 5-seed. Two teams who suffered 100-loss seasons two years ago are the last two teams standing after going 5-0 in the first two rounds, then surviving 7-game wars to rip their leagues’ pennants directly out of the hands of the teams who won them last year. But will it be Arizona who claims their first World Series crown since their epic Game 7 walk-off in 2001, or will Texas win their first Commissioner’s Trophy ever?



Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Texas Rangers

Projected Pitching Matchups

Game 1: (AZ) RH #23 Zac Gallen vs. (TEX) RH #17 Nathan Eovaldi

Game 2: (AZ) RH #29 Merrill Kelly vs. (TEX) LH #52 Jordan Montgomery

Game 3: (TEX) RH #31 Max Scherzer vs. (AZ) RH #32 Brandon Pfaadt

Game 4: (TEX) LH #44 Andrew Heaney/RH #33 Dane Dunning vs. (AZ) Opener TBD


Diamondbacks

Manager: #17 Torrey Lovullo


How They Got Here

WCS: Defeated Milwaukee Brewers 2 games to 0

DS: Defeated Los Angeles Dodgers 3 games to 0

LCS: Defeated Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 3


Projected Starting Lineup

RF #7 Corbin Carroll L

2B #4 Ketel Marte S

C #14 Gabriel Moreno R

1B #53 Christian Walker R

DH #26 Pavin Smith L

LF #12 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. R

CF #5 Alek Thomas L

3B #3 Evan Longoria R

SS #2 Geraldo Perdomo S


The D-Backs stunned the world by not only sweeping the Brewers out of American Family Field, but shelling the Dodgers starting trio of Clayton Kershaw, Bobby Miller, and Rich Hill in a three-game sweep. And for an encore they headed into Philadelphia with their backs against the wall and silenced Citizens Bank Park. Whether Chris "Mad Dog" Russo will be silenced as well remains to be seen. (Spoiler Alert: No way he's actually going to retire.)


NLCS MVP Ketel Marte has been on fire for Arizona, hitting .358 in the postseason with a .986 OPS, 2 homers, 7 runs batted in, and 6 runs scored. He also surpassed Marquis Grissom for the longest postseason hit streak in NL history. Alek Thomas has been an unexpected power source with 4 playoff bombs of his own and an .895 OPS. NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll (it's virtually a guarantee at this point) has hit .295 with an .851 OPS and 6 RBI. Gabriel Moreno has come through with 9 RBI as well. The entire Arizona lineup has hit well with the exception of Evan Longoria, in the World Series for the first time since his rookie year in 2008 for the Rays. If Longo saved his best for last the Snakes will be tough to stop.


Zac Gallen did not have a good NLCS, but has had an outstanding season going in, and there is no one Torrey Lovullo would rather hand the ball to in Game 1. Merrill Kelly had an excellent bounce back outing in Game 6 of the LCS. And nobody would have expected Brandon Pfaadt to shut down the Phillies offense the way he did in Games 3 and 7. Plus Ryan Thompson has become a trusted piece of the Snakes' bullpen; he and Kevin Ginkel have been a stable bridge to Paul Sewald, with Ginkel and Sewald not surrendering a run in 17 combined postseason innings pitched. Rookie Andrew Saalfrank has also proven a capable lefty specialist, and will likely be called upon to deal with Corey Seager late in games, as could former All-Star Joe Mantiply. Mantiply is also an option to be the Game 4 opener, as he was in the NLCS.


Rangers

Manager: #15 Bruce Bochy


How They Got Here

WCS: Defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2 games to 0

DS: Defeated Baltimore Orioles 3 games to 0

LCS: Defeated Houston Astros 4 games to 3


Projected Starting Lineup

2B #2 Marcus Semien R

SS #5 Corey Seager L

LF #32 Evan Carter L

RF #53 Adolis Garcia R

DH #18 Mitch Garver R

C #28 Jonah Heim S

1B #30 Nathaniel Lowe L

3B #6 Josh Jung R

CF #3 Leody Taveras S


For the fifth time and for the third different team, Bruce Bochy is managing in the World Series. After bludgeoning the 99-win Rays in two at the Trop (internet meme lords were quick to call that sweep revenge in the name of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin) and draining the 101-win Orioles' bird bath, the road warrior Rangers took down the in-state rival Astros; losing every game at Globe Life Field, but winning every game at Minute Maid Park. This was the second time the Astros lost a series where the road team won every game; the first time being the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals. Whether losing that way twice in the last five years was the final nail in the coffin of Dusty Baker's retirement decision is up for debate.


There is no player in the World Series on a hotter streak than Adolis Garcia. The ALCS MVP has been absolutely NUCLEAR in the postseason, hitting .327 with an 1.102 OPS, 7 home runs and an astounding 20 RBI; just one shy of David Freese's playoff record for the 2011 Cardinals. Barring injury or Arizona's pitching staff completely shutting Garcia down, Freese's record is as good as gone. Corey Seager actually has a higher postseason average and OPS than Garcia (.333 and 1.127, respectively), and he's been crucial in setting the table for Garcia's performance. Leody Taveras has been an under-the-radar boon for the Rangers as well, with a .354 on-base percentage and four stolen bases in the postseason. And without his Game 6-saving catch, the Rangers may be on the golf course instead of preparing to host Game 1 of the World Series. Of course rookies have been key to Texas’s success all season long, and the kids have been alright in the playoffs as well. AL Rookie of the Year candidate Josh Jung has delivered 13 hits (seven for extra bases) and a .920 OPS, and has scored ten runs and knocked in eight from the 8-hole. And Evan Carter has hit .308 with a .449 OBP, getting moved up to the 3-hole in the LCS to be another tablesetter for Garcia and offsetting Marcus Semien’s struggles. Semien is hitting .192 in the playoffs with a .509 OPS, though he has drawn six walks and scored eight runs. Bochy would love to get his leadoff guy going.


Not only do the Rangers have the hottest position player going into the World Series, they also have the hottest starting pitcher in Game 1 starter Nathan Eovaldi. 4-0 in his four starts with a 2.42 ERA, Eovaldi also carries a 0.96 playoff WHIP ratio. Game 2 starter Jordan Montgomery has performed excellently too, to the tune of a 2.16 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in five appearances; including his relief outing in Game 7 against Houston. While Max Scherzer got roughed up in Game 3 and didn’t get through the 3rd inning in Game 7, there is no discounting Scherzer’s playoff experience. Scherzer has pitched for six teams in his career, and has made a postseason start for all except the one he made his major league debut with- Arizona. At this stage in his career and dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, asking Scherzer to go seven innings (or even five innings) may be a bit much, but you can always expect Max Effort from Mad Max every time he takes the mound. Bochy might even consider using Scherzer out of the ‘pen late in the series. And that bullpen can use all the help it can get. Jose Leclerc has pitched in 10 of Texas’s 12 postseason games and has given up three longballs. Aroldis Chapman will likely be called upon to face Arizona’s 9-1-2 pocket (Perdomo, Carroll, Marte) late; and though he’s only given up one earned run in seven outings, he’s also given up four walks; and his velo is not what it used to be. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Josh Sborz has been the Rangers’ most effective reliever this postseason. Sborz has only surrendered one earned run in 8 ⅓ innings pitched, and though he’s given up four walks as well, his 0.69 WHIP and .074 opponent’s average against are the best on the Texas pitching staff.


Prediction:

Both teams have proven they can win on the road. Both teams have hot offenses. Both teams have outstanding 1-2 punches at the top of their rotations. This series may come down to which team’s role players want it more.


There’s no denying Bruce Bochy is a better manager than Torrey Lovullo. In most cases that would be the difference. But the Diamondbacks have proven they’re more capable of stringing hits together and pushing the action with the base stealing game instead of simply relying on the longball. They can also shut down opponents who attempt to use the running game as well, as Moreno had the best defensive WAR rating in the majors in the regular season. Their bullpen has also proven itself more capable of shutting down opponents’ power threats, having done so in Games 6 and 7 against Philadelphia. The Rangers love to strike first and pound their opponents into submission, but Arizona’s pitching staff can limit their opponents’ offenses and give their own a chance to come back, as they had so many times in the regular season. In short, Texas may have the hotter individuals, but Arizona will have the better team performance. Let chaos reign.


Diamondbacks in 7



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