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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Baseball

Dangerous Dodgers: the other team in the World Series


Third Baseman Justin Turner was named the NLCS MVP for his two home runs in the five-game series, the first being a walk-off home run in Game 2 against the Cubs. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This year the Los Angeles Dodgers won the second-most games in franchise history — at 104 games, this is the most won by the team since it moved to LA in 1958. They accomplished this thanks to stellar pitching and strong hitting from a squad that sent six players to the All-Star Game.

These are only a few faces the Astros will need to look out for Tuesday night.

Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw

This was starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s 10th season in the majors, and he continued his stellar performances. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is well on his way to a fourth after leading the National League in wins, 18, and earned run average, 2.31. His performance saw Kershaw named to his seventh consecutive All-Star Game.

After four straight years of coming up short in the postseason, Kershaw is a perfect 2-0 this year and has struck out 16 batters in 17 innings. With the team’s loss of Zack Greinke to the Arizona Diamondbacks, there was never a doubt this season that Kershaw was the ace of the staff.

Kershaw does have a 3.63 ERA this postseason, so there are holes in his game, but he allowed only one run in his last game against the Cubs. He will need to be on top of his game Tuesday night because Dallas Keuchel will be doing everything he can to stop the Dodgers’ hitters. The goal is no different for Kershaw.

Closer Kenley Jansen

One of the reasons the Dodgers won so many games was thanks to their closer Kenley Jansen. Jansen led the National League with 41 saves, tied with Greg Holland of the Colorado Rockies. This year Jansen was named to his second-straight All-Star Game.

This postseason, Jansen has appeared seven times in eight games, recording three saves and one win. Jansen has allowed only two hits across eight innings and has not allowed a single earned run. The Astros will need to score runs long before Jansen hits the mound. As it stands, he shows no signs of allowing hits, let alone runs.

Third baseman Justin Turner

Justin Turner, the co-MVP of the ALCS, has shown why he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. On the year, Turner had the third-best batting average in the NL, .322, and he has only gotten better in the postseason. Turner is batting .387, third in the playoffs behind Jose Altuve, and has hit the ball 12 times for 12 RBI’s against only five strikeouts.

Turner was named the ALCS MVP for his walk-off homer in Game 2 of the ALCS. This was the first walk-off home run for the Dodgers since the 1988 World Series. Turner has hit three home runs this postseason, second only to Jose Altuve. The third baseman has repeatedly come in clutch for the Dodgers this season, so expect nothing different Tuesday night.

Right fielder Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers’ emotional outfielder, did not have a great 2017. He only averaged .263 batting and struck out 100 times, putting him in the bottom half of the top 50 batters in the National League. But Puig has found his form in the postseason.

Puig is going into the World Series with the best batting average of any player still in the playoffs, .414. In 29 at-bats, Puig has 12 hits, six RBI’s and one home run. His defense and his hitting have made Puig a threat for any team since he came into the majors in 2014.

Honorable mention: shortstop Corey Seager and first baseman Cody Bellinger

The young infield duo was hot during the regular season but cooled down during the Dodgers’ 16-game losing streak. Corey Seager, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, and Cody Bellinger were both named to the All-Star Game. But Seager has been kept out of the postseason due to a back strain, and Bellinger has recorded only 10 hits against 12 strikeouts.

It has been confirmed that Seager is active for the Dodgers, so if he and Bellinger can find their midseason form again, they are arguably the Dodgers’ most dangerous duo.

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