The Red Sox have punched their ticket to the World Series, and will now await the National League representative, which could be decided on Friday. The Los Angeles Dodgers hold a 3-2 series lead over the Milwaukee Brewers, and are one win away from returning to the Fall Classic for a second consecutive year.
With the series going back to Milwaukee, though, the Brewers – who entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in baseball – still could force a game seven that would be played Saturday.
Here is a scouting report on both of the teams Boston could face beginning next Tuesday:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Record: 92-71 (NL West champions)
Road to the World Series: The Dodgers fought through a wild National League West, defeating Colorado, 5-2, in a one-game playoff at season’s end to win the division. This placed LA in a division series matchup against the NL East champion Atlanta Braves, whom the Dodgers defeated in four games.
The Dodgers split the opening two games in Milwaukee during the NLCS, and fell behind 2-1 after being shut out at home in Game 3. Back-to-back wins in Game 4 and Game 5 put Los Angeles within one win of a repeat trip to the World Series. Los Angeles lost to Houston in the 2017 World Series.
Players to watch: A midseason trade for former Baltimore Oriole Manny Machado helped the Dodgers bolster an already dangerous lineup. Machado hit .297 this season with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs, and has become a focal point of a lineup that has found success in October. Right fielder Yasiel Puig, despite a down season by his standards, has been hitting over .300 in the postseason and his excitement has fueled LA. Lefthanded ace Clayton Kershaw seems to have dispelled his playoff demons, and is 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA in three games.
Key team stats: The Dodgers were first in the NL and second in MLB with 235 home runs, trailing only the Yankees. Los Angeles’ slugging percentage was third in the league (.442), and its overall 3.38 team ERA was best in the NL and second in MLB.
Boston connections: Most, if not all, Red Sox fans will recognize the face of the Dodgers’ skipper. Dave Roberts, who is engraved in Boston sports folklore for his Game 4 steal in the 2004 ALCS, is in his third season at the helm of Los Angeles. Milton native Rich Hill, 38, is in his second season pitching for the Dodgers and went 11-5 this year with a 3.66 ERA. He has primarily been pitching out of the bullpen in the postseason, accumulating a 2.89 ERA with nine strikeouts in 9.1 innings pitched.
Record: 96-67 (NL Central champions)
Road to the World Series: The Brewers also had a 163rd game to determine who won the NL Central. Following a 3-1 victory at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, Milwaukee finished with the best-record in the NL and made quick work of the Colorado Rockies in a division series sweep. The Brewers are down 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, but have two games at home, where they went 51-30 this season.
Players to watch: Outfielder Christian Yelich came over from Miami in a trade during the offseason, and is now a favorite to win the NL MVP after almost capturing the Triple Crown with a .326 average with 36 home runs and 110 RBIs. A tough postseason has seen him hit just .179. First baseman Jesús Aguilar has 35 home runs, but is another player who has slumped in October.
The bullpen has carried Milwaukee, and lefthander Josh Hader has been right in the middle of it all year. He went 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 81.1 innings during the regular season, Hader has carried that over to October and been just as untouchable.
Key team stats: Milwaukee ranks fifth in baseball in total team ERA (3.73), fourth in home runs (218), fourth in stolen bases (124), and opposing teams are hitting just .233 off its pitching staff, good for fifth-best in the league.
Boston connections: Two familiar names are playing for Milwaukee: Wade Miley and Travis Shaw. Both struggled in Boston, but have found new success in Milwaukee. Shaw hit just .241, but belted more than 30 home runs for his second straight season since leaving the Red Sox. Miley, a lefthander, became a main component in the Brewers’ rotation – going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 games.