The Yankees and Dodgers always fuel World Series speculation and this three-game series was no different. New York strolled into Dodger Stadium and showed why they’ve won eight of 11 Fall Classic matchups between the two. The Yankees won two of three games and continued their battle for standing in the AL East.
The series really was as advertised despite the Dodgers’ pitching staff looking more and more like an urgent care center. The balls flew out of Dodger Stadium and the pitchers—well, most of them—came prepared.
Again, these were just three games over a weekend in June. And yet, the atmosphere screamed October. In a World Series, it’s hard to determine which side raises the trophy.
Hitting: This is where the Yankees and Dodgers match up pretty closely, and we saw it most on Friday. Los Angeles took advantage of Luis Severino’s off night to the tune of two Mookie Betts homers. JD Martinez also reminded the Yankees of his former Red Sox days and had two home runs in the series.
Except the Yankees did what they needed to do, even in defeat, and that’s hit home runs. The Bronx Bombers lived up to their name and hit eight longballs to LA’s five. Even Oswaldo Cabrera, fresh off of a brief assignment to Triple-A, managed a homer in garbage time Saturday. Better yet, he added the game-winning RBI groundout on Sunday.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, had a hard time finding the big hits after the series opener. Betts had four hits Friday, but was 0 for 8 the rest of the way. His teammate Freddie Freeman, however, only had one hit in the three games. Add that Los Angeles doesn’t have a can’t-miss Aaron Judge type, and they’re at even more of a “disadvantage,” if you will.
Pitching. The Dodgers’ hitting struggles can only be attributed to the Yankees’ strong pitching. Their breakout on Friday was largely because Luis Severino had nothing working and also lost velocity on his fastball. Gerrit Cole held them in check and, oddly enough, so did Domingo German.
But realistically speaking, pitching is where the Dodgers can easily match the Yankees inning for inning. Clayton Kershaw’s curveball is still the best in the game. New York had no answer for Bobby Miller’s sinker. Michael Grove made two mistakes but still changed speeds almost effortlessly. The issue is his two mistakes were each two-run home runs to Jake Bauers.
Throw in the bullpen, however, and it’s advantage New York. Let’s not also forget that Los Angeles is also shorthanded. If Dustin May and Julio Urias are healthy in October and Noah Syndergaard starts throwing his slider again, that’s a different rotation.
And now, add Grove and/or Miller as potential high-leverage bullpen arms in a playoff series. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Who wins a 2023 Yankees-Dodgers World Series? This is truly a tough call because as well as New York and Los Angeles match up with each other, their differences are in plain sight. Most notably, the Dodgers are more likely to let their prospects get legitimate shots with the big league club while the Yankees tend to keep theirs in development limbo. For example, James Outman likely wouldn’t get as much playing time as a Yankees prospect.
However, the tradeoff is risky in a World Series when baseball’s best pitching is on display. The Dodgers have a top-loaded lineup followed by young or otherwise streaky bats. Now, consider how the rest of Los Angeles’ hitters fared in the face of Betts, Freeman, and Will Smith failing to generate offense. Miguel Vargas and Miguel Rojas started a rally Saturday, but the best hitters in Betts and Freeman couldn’t build off of it.
That said, this was just a three-game series. We have to assume that if the Dodgers and Yankees meet in October, Los Angeles will be better prepared. Both teams would also be healthier under ideal circumstances and probably will have made moves at the deadline. They really are so similar that what should be a simple hypothetical has so many moving parts.
New York’s lineup is deep enough that it could take over the series quickly. A healthy Los Angeles pitching staff is capable of silencing those bats. Which team wins a World Series?
I guess that’s the combined $506 million question.