World Series 2023 Preview
How do you pick a winner in a contest when both contestants have been underdogs during every stage of the journey to get here? At the beginning of the playoffs, the Diamondbacks were 40-to-1 longshots to win it all and Texas was 18-to-1. Arizona was 125-to-1 at the end of the 2022 season.
First thing to do: forget about which team’s starting pitching is better. Five of the seven games could be bullpen games. Nathan Eovaldi has won every start in the postseason, but he pitches to contact, so he is certainly hittable. Jordan Montgomery carried Texas through the NLCS with the Houston Astros, but that was a lot of stress. He may not be available until Game 3, but if he can continue his postseason form, he might be able to lead Texas to wins in that game and Game 7. The Rangers’ Max Scherzer is no better than a middle reliever right now. He could dominate for three innings. He could give up five runs. No one knows-he included. Aroldis Chapman will be good for a couple of games, but will then cough up a lead when the series is on the line. It’s what he does.
Zach Gallen can shut down an offense, but he also is around the plate enough that he’s hittable. Brandon Pfaadt and Merrill Kelly have been great. Can they keep it up for another two starts? Relievers, Paul Sewald and Kevin Ginkel have not given up a run yet in the postseason. Do you really think they can continue that through the World Series? Neither do I. Texas mashes. Adolis Garcia and Corey Seager have 35 runs batted in for the playoffs. Add rookie Evan Carter to the mix and you have a serious 1-2-3 trio.
Arizona can mash. The Diamondbacks can also play small ball in a scheme that values putting runners in scoring position. That puts pressure on opposing pitchers and defenses. They led the majors in sacrifice hits during the season and were second in stolen bases during the postseason. Corbin Carroll leads that attack and there does not seem to be a hole in his game. Ketel Marte has been hot, but I can’t trust he will stay that way. First baseman Christian Walker leads the teams in walks, but he is not hitting the ball. Not sure who is left who can pick up the slack. Tommy Pham always seems to contribute when it counts, but not all the time.
Forecast: Montgomery wins two games and the Rangers scratch out two others. The series goes the distance and is a whipsaw of games and comebacks. Hold on. Let me check to see who is favored to lose the series. Oh. Texas? Nevermind. Arizona wins in seven.