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Dodgers Dugout: World Series prediction — Dodgers over Rays in six

Blake Treinen greets family members after the Dodgers beat the Braves in Game 7.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and what a strange road to this year’s World Series.

A couple of things I forgot to mention about Game 7 before we move on to the World Series:

—One thing to really like about Joc Pederson: No matter how poorly he plays, or how little he plays, he is always an active cheerleader on the bench. Kiké Hernández hit for him in Game 7, and some players may have sulked a little about being hit for. But who was the first person to greet Hernandez after his home run? Pederson.

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Cody Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder bumping arms with Hernández after Bellinger’s homer. The trainer popped it back in place and by all accounts he is fine. “I had to go back into the trainer’s room and they popped it back in so I could go out and play defense,” he said.

Corey Seager was named NLCS MVP. It could have gone to Julio Urías. Or Mookie Betts. Or Will Smith. But Seager is a good choice. And besides, who remembers who the LCS MVP is the following year?

—The World Series starts on what would have been my mom’s 90th birthday. I take that as a good sign.

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The Rays had the best record in the American League, so, anyone thinking this will be an easy matchup, think again.

Let’s compare each position:

Catcher
Will Smith (.281/.401/.579/164 OPS+/1.3 WAR; Postseason: .222/.286/.356, 1 homer, 11 RBIs )
Mike Zunino (.147/.238/.360/65 OPS+/-0.2 WAR; Postseason: .216/.231/.541, 4 homers, 8 RBIs)

Zunino hits for power, but not average. He has 108 homers in 705 career games, but a .200 batting average

Edge: Dodgers

First base
Max Muncy (.192/.331/.389/97 OPS+/0.2 WAR; Postseason: .211/.434/.447, 2 homers, 8 RBIs)
Ji-Man Choi (.230/.331/.410/106/0.2; Postseason: .290/.336/.516, 2 homers, 4 RBIs)

Choi has more fun playing baseball than pretty much anyone, and will be enjoyable to watch.

Edge: Dodgers

Second base
Chris Taylor (.270/.366/.476/129/1.8; Postseason: .200/.282/.286, 3 doubles)
Brandon Lowe (.269/.332/.554/152/2.1; Postseason: .115/.193/.173, 1 homer, 2 RBIs)

Lowe gets overlooked, but was one of Tampa Bay’s best hitter during the season. Taylor is stuck in one of his slumps. Mike Brosseau could see time here, which gives the edge to them. But I think one of these guys is going to break out offensively this series.

Edge: Rays

Third base
Justin Turner (.307/.400/.460/135/1.3; Postseason: .209/.327/.326, 1 HR, 4 RBIs)
Joey Wendle (.286/.342/.435/116/1.2; Postseason: .225/.295/.225, 2 RBIs)

The Rays have multiple options at third base, including Yandy Díaz and Mike Brosseau. Turner has the edge over all of them.

Edge: Dodgers

Shortstop
Corey Seager (.307/.358/.585/152/1.9; Postseason: .298/.358/.766, 6 homers, 15 RBIs)
Willy Adames (.259/.332/.481/124/1.6; Postseason: .132/.365/.184, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs)

Seager has been unreal this postseason.

Edge: Dodgers

Left field
AJ Pollock (.276/.314/.566/134/0.6; Postseason: .229/.270/.257, 1 double, 2 RBIs)
Randy Arozarena (.281/.382/.641/179/0.8; Postseason: .283/.433/.855, 7 homers, 10 RBIs)

Arozarena is a hitting machine.

Edge: Rays

Center field
Cody Bellinger (.239/.333/.455/113/1.4; Postseason: .250/.365/.545, 2 triples, 3 homers, 10 RBIs)
Kevin Kiermaier (.217/.321/.362/91/1.6; Postseason: .194/.216/.389, 4 doubles, 1 homer, 4 RBIs)

Kiermaier is great defensively, which accounts for a lot of his WAR score.

Edge: Dodgers

Right field
Mookie Betts (.292/.366/562/149/3.4; Postseason: .311/.407/.444, 6 doubles, 5 RBIs, 10 runs)
Manuel Margot (.269/.327/.352/91/0.8; Postseason: .256/.326/.641, 5 homers, 11 RBIs)

Mookie Betts can win games even when he’s not hitting.

Edge: Dodgers

DH
Joc Pederson (.190/.285/.397/84/-0.4; Postseason: .375/.400/.500, 1 homer, 5 RBIs)
Austin Meadows (.205/.296/.371/86/0.0, Postseason: .114/.162/.286, 2 homers, 2 RBIs)

The Rays could also put Arozarena at DH and Meadows in left.

Edge: Dodgers

Starting rotation

All we know for sure for the Dodgers is they are going with Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 and Walker Buehler will start Game 3. But, despite much-touted rotation depth heading into the postseason, the Dodgers couldn’t seem to make up their minds about what to do after Kershaw and Buehler. Julio Urías has earned a start, but he’s also valuable in the bullpen. And after their performance in the NLCS, there are questions surrounding Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin.

The Rays will start Tyler Glasnow (4.08 ERA, 97 strikeouts in 57.1 innings) in Game 1 and Blake Snell (3.24 ERA, 63 strikeouts in 50 innings) in Game 2. They have Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough waiting in the wings for the next two games.

Edge: Rays

Bullpen

The Dodger bullpen is really good, but they have been very erratic in the postseason. They were a big reason why the Dodgers fell being in games, 3-1, in the NLCS, and a big reason why they won the last three games. The Rays have a bunch of guys who came at you with an assortments of arm angles and are a better group than the Braves’ bullpen.

Edge: Tossup

Bench

Both teams rely on their bench heavily, but the Dodgers have a slightly better group.

Edge: Dodgers

Prediction: Dodgers in six.

Dodgers-Rays schedule

All times Pacific

Dodgers are home team for Game 1, 2, 6 and 7

All games at Arlington, Texas

Game 1: Today, Tampa Bay (Tyler Glasnow) vs. Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw**), 5 p.m., Fox

Game 2: Wednesday, Tampa Bay (Blake Snell**) vs. Dodgers (TBD), 5 p.m., Fox

Game 3: Friday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler) vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 4: Saturday, Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 5*: Sunday, Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 6*: Tuesday, Oct. 27, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

Game 7*: Wed., Oct. 28, Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

*-if necessary

**-left-handed

Your first Dodgers memory

I have thousands of responses, so if I don’t get to yours right away, don’t worry, I will eventually. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. And remember, it’s first Dodgers memory, not favorite Dodgers memory. Thanks.

David Gershwin of Valley Village writes: I was 6-years-old when my dad took me to my first Dodgers game on June 3 in our Bicentennial year of 1976.

The Dodgers were playing our arch-rivals, the Giants, and it was a legend-studded Dodgers roster: Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey in the infield, Bill Buckner and Dusty Baker in the outfield, and Tommy John was the starting pitcher. And if that wasn’t enough, Manny Mota pinch-hit, too.

The Dodgers tied it up in the eighth, and the game went into extra innings. I remember being over the moon that we could see the Dodgers play even more baseball than planned -- and how I could also stay up even further past my bedtime.

The Dodgers won on a walk-off single by Russell, driving in Cey for the win. The crowd, and 6-year-old me and my dad, went nuts. I didn’t think the Dodgers could ever lose another game. Ever.

We headed back home and walked in the front door just in time for the 11 o’clock news and the sports report. I was absolutely giddy that we had the chance to see the highlights of a game we had just seen in person. Best of all, I was able to point to the TV and narrate the sports report for my mom (at home with my then-baby brother) and describe in the unmistakable voice of a punchy, excited 6-year-old the moment the Dodgers beat the Giants in extra innings. And I could do it verbatim -- and in the exact same way -- today.

Peter Jackson of Franklin Lakes, N.J.: When I was 7-years-old and already a Dodgers fan, my mother took me to the seventh game of the 1956 World Series. I remember sitting way out in left field at Ebbets Field, high up and near the foul pole. Unfortunately, I also vividly remember my disappointment seeing Yogi Berra hit two home runs and Bill Skowron a grand slam as the Yankees blew out the Dodgers 9-0 to win the Series. Perhaps that depressing game prepared me to deal with all the Dodgers disappointment since 1988 and to learn to “wait till next year”. Still a rabid fan after all these decades. I’m praying that 2020 is that next year I’ve been waiting for.

Kevin Kennedy: I was 4-years-old, and it was the 1988 World Series. I’m lucky to have this as my first Dodgers memory. I can remember my dad explaining to me the rules of baseball as the game progressed, and how this series of games decided the champion out of all other baseball teams. I remember the walk-off home run by Kirk Gibson as my dad shouted the Dodgers won. I copied my dad and cheered. Another late night, my memory remains fuzzy because I was more interested in playing with my dog or building blocks, my dad pointed at the TV and cheered because the Dodgers won the World Series. We are champions. And we watched the TV with the celebratory Dodgers. It’s been 32 long years since then, and I’m ready for another World Series championship. Go Dodgers!

In case you missed it

Helene Elliott: Most unpredictable of seasons produces a World Series matching MLB’s two best teams

Dylan Hernández: Here’s why the Dodgers will win the World Series for first time in 32 years

Commentary: Remembering 1988, when the Dodgers and Lakers both won titles

Dodgers and Rays agree: Don’t diminish the 2020 World Series because of oddities

How the Dodgers and Rays match up position by position in the World Series

Dodgers fans make themselves at home in Globe Life Field, and the players notice

Fan-to-fan kindness: How one Dodgers fan got a free trip to World Series

Rays still zig while others zag, long after Andrew Friedman left for the Dodgers

Dodgers World Series history: 20 times they played for title

And finally

Kirk Gibson homers to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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