My last post predicted a Dodgers-Tigers World Series, two teams that have never met with the World Championship on the line, that I believe would be very entertaining to watch*. These are the dates and potential pitching matchups, which are totally best-guess on my part depending on the length of the respective League Championship Series:
|Tue, Oct 21||Dodgers||Clayton Kershaw||@||Tigers||David Price|
|Wed, Oct 22||Dodgers||Dan Haren||@||Tigers||Max Scherzer|
|Fri, Oct 24||Tigers||Rick Porcello||@||Dodgers||Hyun-jin Ryu|
|Sat, Oct 25||Tigers||Justin Verlander||@||Dodgers||Zack Greinke|
|Sun, Oct 26||Tigers||David Price||@||Dodgers||Clayton Kershaw|
|Tue, Oct 28||Dodgers||Dan Haren||@||Tigers||Max Scherzer|
|Wed, Oct 29||Dodgers||Hyun-jin Ryu||@||Tigers||Rick Porcello|
* Fun fact: I wasted an hour researching -- of the 225 possible World Series combinations, 162 (72 percent) have never occurred, such as this hypothetical Series
Generally speaking, other than a fifth starter, these are the rotations both teams have been using since around the beginning of September. There is every possibility they will be adjusted as far back as the Divisional Series, but chances are the only material difference would be in what game the match-ups occur. For example, Clayton Kershaw and David Price might not pitch Game 1, depending on the length of their prior series, but there's a very good chance they would face off against each other -- it just might be in Game 2 or something like that.
These are the lineups and batting orders:
|2B||Dee Gordon||2B||Ian Kinsler|
|RF||Yasiel Puig||RF||Torii Hunter|
|1B||Adrian Gonzalez||3B||Miguel Cabrera|
|CF||Matt Kemp||1B**||Victor Martinez|
|SS||Hanley Ramirez||LF||J.D. Martinez|
|LF||Carl Crawford||SS||Eugenio Suarez|
|3B||Juan Uribe||C||Alex Avila|
|C||A.J. Ellis||CF||Rajai Davis|
|DH||Andre Ethier||DH||Nick Castellanos|
**When Detroit is at home, Victor Martinez would be the DH, Miguel Cabrera would play first, and Nick Castellanos third. Thanks to Neil Weinberg for clearing this up for me.
One dynamic will be the differences in the home fields -- these are the multi-year park factors for both teams:
It's no secret that Chavez Ravine is a pitcher's park and Comerica Park is hitter-friendly. A good Dodger offense would play four games in a very hitter-friendly park, contrasted with the Tigers pitching three games in a pitcher-friendly park. It's not too often the opponent's park best fits a team's profile.
I ran simulations using Matt Hunter's SaberSim; using 2014 ZiPS projections, the Dodgers were favored, and it really wasn't that close. This has all the makings of a classic series, with me giving a slight edge to the Tigers in starting pitching, a monster edge to the Dodgers in relief pitching and a slight edge to the Dodgers in offense, simply due to more parts. The Dodgers will be able to use Andre Ethier at DH, which is a very nice spare part most NL teams don't have.
But something will happen to render this moot. There will be some freak injury, inopportune cold streak or a sudden inability of Clayton Kershaw to pitch (hey, it could happen). Someone like Don Kelly will end up being the MVP because that's just how it seems to turn out. But you're not reading this to see me state "Beats me who will win -- that's why they play the games," so in my humble opinion, the 2014 World Series champions will be . . .
The Los Angeles Dodgers (I did kind of give it away in the picture caption)
I believe it will be a seven-game series. The Dodgers aren't perfect -- I'm not a Dan Haren fan, nor am I too keen on Zack Greinke potentially pitching only one game in the Series, and the Dodgers are about as undisciplined on the base paths as any team, but these are nits. The key is if their offensive advantage can overcome the Tigers' pitching advantage.
If this series does actually occur, it should be a very entertaining one to watch, featuring some of the best pitching in the game today and offensive firepower. It won't be easy for either team to get there, as neither team is the favorite to win their pennant, the Tigers less so than the Dodgers, and in five and seven-game series the element of a hot team rendering my last three posts moot is a very real possibility.
All data from Baseball-Reference
Scott Lindholm lives in Davenport, IA. Follow him on Twitter @ScottLindholm.