Dodgers – Astros Preview: Rematch of 2017 World Series

Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger leads the Los Angeles Dodgers into Houston for a two game series against the Astros. Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros square off in a two-game set in Houston starting today. There is no love lost between these two team’s because of the Dodgers 4-3 loss to Houston in the 2017 World Series.

Couple that with the Major League Baseball investigation in late 2019 and you have tension. The invesigation found that the Astro’s stole the opposing team’s signs in 2017 and 2018. This led many to believe many the Dodgers could have actually won the 2017 World Series had Houston not cheated.

What Went Down

The Astro’s used a camera to steal signs being relayed from opposing team’s catchers to pitchers, then tipped off Astros batters about what type of pitch was about to be thrown. Trashcans amongst other things were used to also relay signs and make Houston Batters aware of what pitch was coming.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers released a statement on January 13th 2020 saying that they would have no further comment on the outcome of the investigation, that didn’t seem to stop players from commenting further on what they thought.

Dodgers Coming Into Astros Series at 2-2

The Dodgers took two of four from their season opening series against the San Francisco Giants. All eyes were on Mookie Betts, particularly after signing his record $365M/12-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Betts went 4-20 in the series with four strikeouts and two runs on three hits for a .150 batting average and .340 OPS.

Cody Bellinger, the 2019 National League MVP, had three runs on four hits as well as a .235 average and .610 OPS.

Justin Turner and Max Muncy were the best Dodgers against the Giants, with Turner hitting four doubles. He netted a .467 average and 1.289 OPS. Muncy had two home runs and three RBI’s, amounting to a .250 batting average and a 1.150 OPS.

On The Mound For The Dodgers

The sign stealing scandal also hangs like a black cloud over this series, with many fans are calling for the beaning of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer and other Astro’s players.

We’ll see what Walker Buehler does with the baseball as he heads to the mound for the Dodgers today. He was 14–4 with a 3.26 ERA in 2019. Buehler has a career WAR of 5.5 with 23 wins and 9 losses to with a 3.12 ERA and 378 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.036.

The Dodgers will send Dustin May tomorrow against the Astros. The 22-year-old made an emergency start of 4 1/3 innings when Clayton Kershaw was scratched from his Opening Day start due back stiffness. May is 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 4 SO.

Astro’s Win Opening Series 3-1 Over The Seattle Mariners

The Astros won their first season series, taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners. This A.L. West matchup between the contending Astros and pretending Mariners saw the Astros score 29 runs against the Mariners 16. Seattle finished 39 games behind the Astros last year.

Astros’ Pitching

Houston has run into trouble already though as Justin Verlander is out with a forearm injury. Conflicting reports say that Verlander is done for the season, while Astros Manager Dusty Baker said he would be off for a couple of weeks then re-evaluated. If Verlander does not return, that hurts the Astros World Series odds.

Verlander finished fifth among pitchers in WAR (6.4) in 2019. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 3.27 FIP while averaging 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Gerrit Cole left in the off season for the Yankees and without Verlander, it’s a good thing the Astro’s have Zack Grienke. Grienke is a proven major league pitcher with a lifetime 205-123 record, a 3.36 ERA and WHIP of 1.160. He had a a 3.02 ERA in 62.2 innings with the Astros last season, but allowed three runs in 3.1 innings against the Mariners in his first start.

Jose Urquidy is unproven over a full season in the majors. Last season he was 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA, as in nine games (seven starts) he pitched 41.0 innings.[6]. Lance McCullers Jr. missed the entirety of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery so he is a question mark at this point.

Framber Valdez heads to the mound for the Astros in tonight’s game. Valdez went 4-7 with a 5.86 ERA in 26 games (eight starts) for the Astros last year after making his Major League debut in 2018 and going 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in eight games (five starts). The Astros have not named a starter for Thursday’s game.

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