The 2017 World Series begins Tuesday, though we still don't know the matchup that will determine Major League Baseball's champion.
The Los Angeles Dodgers earned their spot in the World Series Thursday night with a dominant 11-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Los Angeles' opponent could be known as soon as Friday if the New York Yankees defeat the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Despite not knowing the official matchup for this year's World Series, there are some things to be taken away from the postseason so far that will help build anticipation for what's going to happen.
2017 World Series Schedule
Game 1 (Oct. 24): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 2 (Oct. 25): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 3 (Oct. 27): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros
Game 4 (Oct. 28): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros
Game 5* (Oct. 29): Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Yankees/Houston Astros
Game 6* (Oct. 31): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 7* (Nov. 1): New York Yankees/Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
Ticket Information: Stubhub.com
World Series Odds (via OddsShark.com)
Los Angeles Dodgers (-110)
New York Yankees (+190)
Houston Astros (+500)
The Dodgers clinched their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1988 by defeating the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in five games to win the NLCS.
This franchise has been on the cusp of breaking through over the past five seasons, reaching the NLCS in 2013 and 2016. Los Angeles has won five consecutive division titles, the longest active streak in MLB, and posted the league's best record in 2017 (104-58).
The NL West champions had a chance to sweep their way into the World Series Wednesday against the Cubs, but Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis held Los Angeles' bats in check by allowing four hits in a 3-2 Game 4 win.
Despite Chicago's win, the Dodgers were still in complete control of the series, as noted by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.
"The Cubs still just had five hits, scoring all their runs on home runs," he wrote after Game 4. "They are still just batting .163 in this series. They still don't have a bullpen, because they used closer Wade Davis for 48 pitches to save their season."
Since Game 3 of the Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching has been the story of Los Angeles' playoff run. Over the past six games, the Dodgers allowed nine runs in six games.
Pitching is what made the Dodgers the best team in baseball during the regular season. They led the NL with a 3.38 ERA, including an MLB-best 3.39 ERA from their starting rotation.
Los Angeles' offense finished 12th in MLB with 770 runs scored and 11th with 221 home runs. This isn't a lineup that is going to overpower opposing pitchers, so their rotation and bullpen have to be on point to end their 29-year championship drought.
One thing working in their favor is whoever their AL opponent ends up being, the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees will have to play the first two games in Los Angeles.
The Yankees hold a 3-2 series edge against the Astros heading into Friday's Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. Road games have not been kind to New York this postseason, which owns a 1-4 record away from Yankee Stadium in Houston and Cleveland.
At home, the Yankees were an AL-best 51-30 during the season and 6-0 in the playoffs. They went 40-41 away from New York during the regular season, but the problems extend beyond just their record.
"Aaron Judge, who struck out an unfathomable 16 times in 20 at-bats against Cleveland, was a quiet 1-for-7 in the games at Houston," wrote Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. "Gary Sanchez went 0-for-11 in the first three games of the ALCS. Greg Bird was the only one to fare well in Houston, with a home run among his two hits in seven at-bats."
Judge, Sanchez and Bird have looked more comfortable at home than on the road this postseason. It doesn't help they have to face Justin Verlander Saturday in Game 6 after he pitched a complete game against the Yankees with 13 strikeouts.
Between starting pitching, bullpen and offense, the Yankees look like the most complete team left in the playoffs. They will need those three to start hitting away from New York if they want to add a 28th championship to their mantle.
The Dodgers are the best team left at preventing runs. They are going to throw Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Rich Hill at whoever their AL opponent is, with Kershaw and Darvish likely being used multiple times.
It's rare when the best team in baseball during the regular season wins the World Series. It happened last year with the Cubs, but before that, the last team with the best record outright to be crowned champion was the 2009 Yankees.
The Dodgers will follow Chicago's example from 2016 to win their first championship since Kirk Gibson hobbled around the bases after hitting a walk-off homer against Oakland Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley 29 years ago.
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