What a fun MLB season. We are down to the final, most important series of the year. The 2023 World Series starts on Friday, and we could not be more excited about the matchup.
The Rangers lost the AL West crown on the last day of the season, and they were lucky to make the playoffs in the first place. Texas made it, and then they needed to play most of their playoff games on the road. No problem. Texas beat the Rays, and then they took down the No. 1 seed Orioles. The Rangers headed to Houston to face their division rival Astros, and they took a 2-0 lead. The series went back to Texas, and the Astros won all three games. With their backs against the wall, the Rangers went into Houston and won Game 6 and Game 7. The Rangers won the AL Pennant, and they punched their ticket to the 2023 World Series.
The D-Backs were a great story this season. This team was expected to take a step forward, but no one expected this team to be in the playoffs, let alone winning the NL Pennant. Arizona started out hot, but they cooled off at various points during the season, and it looked like they might miss the playoffs after poor stretches in August and October. The Cubs chocked, Arizona got in, and they have been nothing but awesome since. Arizona swept the Brewers and Dodgers to make it to the NLCS. They fell down 2-0, came back to make it 3-2, then won the final two games in Philly to win the NL Pennant. They are going to the 2023 World Series.
Now that the stage is set for the 2023 World Series, which team has the edge? Let’s take a look at pitching matchups, lineups, and who we expect to win.
2023 World Series – Series Price
- Texas Rangers -175
- Arizona D-Backs +155
The Rangers had the better record, so they have the home-field advantage in the World Series. The MLB playoff format goes 2-3-2. This means the first two games will be in Arlington, the middle three games will be in Arizona, and the final two games, if needed, will be back in Texas.
2023 World Series – Pitching Matchups
Rangers Pitching Staff:
Both of these teams had many detractors because of their pitching staffs. Texas tried to improve their pitching this offseason. They added Nathan Eovaldi, who has been nothing short of phenomenal, and Jacob deGrom, who, unfortunately, is hurt again. During the season, Texas added Jordan Montgomery, Max Scherzer, and Aroldis Chapman to bolster their pitching staff for the stretch run. Scherzer and Chapman have been iffy, but Montgomery has been a revelation for Texas.
Here are the starters the Rangers have used this postseason:
- Nathan Eovaldi
- Jordan Montgomery
- Andrew Heany
- Max Scherzer
Eovaldi has been fantastic this postseason. A veteran with experience, Eovaldi has made four starts and has a 2.42 ERA, a 2.68 FIP, and a 9.69 K/9. He has won all four starts he has made. Montgomery has also been great. He is 3-0 in four starts with a 2.16 ERA, a 3.42 FIP, and a 1.28 WHIP. Montgomery also made a long relief appearance in Game 7. Heaney has made one start this postseason, and he did not pitch well. He had a 6.75 ERA over three appearances with a 4.01 FIP and just a 1.69 K/9. Scherzer was 0-1 in his two starts, but he did a good job limiting the damage in his 2.2 innings of Game 7. He has been far from amazing this postseason, but it’s impossible to count him out.
This all begs the question, “Who will start which game?” There is a lot of gamesmanship that goes into these decisions. Starters are willing to come from the bullpen or even pitch just two days after throwing 80+ pitches. Here is what we expect to see from Texas.
- Game One: Eovaldi
- Game Two: Montgomery
- Game Three: Scherzer
Depending on their record through three games, Eovaldi may pitch again on short rest, or the Rangers may look to get something out of their long relievers. Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray, and Martin Perez have all started at points this season, and any of these pitchers could not only make a start but be a long reliever in case they need to eat innings during the 2023 World Series.
Jose Leclerc has been the Rangers closer – he has three saves this postseason. Other shorter relief options for the Rangers are Will Smith, Chris Stratton, Brock Burke, and Josh Sborz. This unit has pitched well at times this postseason, but they have also gotten hit around. This unit was scrutinized all season long, and they have held up well in the playoffs, but these pitchers are susceptible to allowing big innings.
D-Backs Pitching Staff:
Zac Gallen is supposed to be the ace of this staff, but he has had the worst postseason of all D-Backs starters. He is 2-2 with a 5.24 ERA and a 6.93 FIP. He has gutted his way through games, but if he cannot get it right, the D-Backs are at a major disadvantage. Merrill Kelly has been very good, but rookie Brandon Pfaadt has been a revelation. In four starts, Pfaadt has a 2.70 ERA, a 2.72 FIP, and an 11.88 K/9. He was electric against the Phillies, and this kid figures to make at least one start in the 2023 World Series. This is what we expect
- Game One: Merrill Kelly
- Game Two: Brandon Pfaadt
- Game Three: Zac Gallen
Why is the ace of the staff pitching in Game Three? For starters, all of Gallen’s metrics this season have been better at home. If the D-Backs can steal Game One with Kelly, who has been great, they can return home with either a 2-0 lead or a 1-1 tie and have their ace on the mound for Game Three. It may be a little farfetched of an idea, but it makes sense.
Joe Mantiply has been used as an opener for the D-Backs once this postseason. This bullpen, which was also under heavy scrutiny all season long, has put together an amazing October. Seawald has six saves. Ryan Thompson, Kevin Ginkle, and Andrew Saalfrank have been used a lot and have pitched well. Arizona has long relief options in Kyle Nelson and Ryne Nelson. This unit has been punching above their weight class all October, and they need to continue to do so for one more series.
2023 World Series – Lineups and Defense
Rangers Lineup and Defense:
The Rangers have a murders row of hitters in their lineup. Texas also has a good combination of switch hitters in their platoon spots, so the Rangers can manipulate matchups to give themselves an edge in the batter’s box. Corey Seager has been amazing, and he has experience in the World Series. Adolis Garcia literally just had the best ALCS in history. Marcus Semien, Josh Jung, Evan Carter, Leody Tavares, Nathaniel Lowe, and Jonah Heim have been fantastic in their own right. This lineup is deadly from top to bottom, and they were the most deadly team at home this season.
Texas should have no problem scoring runs if they can keep the momentum from the ALCS.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rangers are just as good. According to FanGraphs, they finished 2nd in defense, 6th in outs above average, and 6th in RAA.
Houston can not only hit with the best of them; they can make plays all over the field as well.
Arizona Lineup and Defense:
The D-Backs lineup is not as scary on paper, but they have an amazing mix of talent. Ketel Marte is fresh off an amazing NLCS, Corbin Caroll got hot when they needed him to, and veterans Gurriel and Longoria provide much-needed experience to this team. Gabriel Moreno and Alek Thomas have been a revelation as well. Christian Walker needs to get it going because if he can, this lineup is certainly scary. This team also has a ton of speed and is a threat on the basepaths.
On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona is one of the best in the MLB. They finished third in defense, 2nd in OAA, and 2nd in RAA.
When this game goes back to Arizona, the defense in the outfield becomes so important. The D-Backs have such amazing team speed that they can track down most flyballs.
2023 World Series – Prediction
The Rangers certainly deserve to be the favorites in this series, but the price seems off. Arizona is not just an amazing story; they have a great team from top to bottom, and they also have one of the most advanced analytic departments in baseball. The decisions they have made all playoffs long have seemed questionable, but every single one has worked according to their plan.
When it comes down to it, pitching wins in the MLB. If Max Scherzer can regain form, the Rangers no doubt have the pitching edge. Scherzer and Eovaldi have experience pitching on this stage, and Arizona is relying on a rookie who was sent down to the minor leagues three different times this season. No disrespect to Pfaadt; he is a highly coveted prospect, and he has been amazing, but we’d bet that he regresses while Scherzer has one more vintage performance in him.
Lastly, the D-Backs ace is not exactly an ace. Zac Gallen has been mediocre in the back half of the season, and on the road in the playoffs has been no different. He does a great job fighting through, but the Rangers could put up six runs on him without blinking. On the other hand, Nathan Eovaldi has been nothing short of spectacular, and he is pitching like an ace.
The D-Backs bullpen has been electric, but this unit has been bad this season. The Rangers’ bullpen has pitched well, and they have more options of long relievers. Also, they are familiar with Arizona’s closer Paul Seawald from his time in Seattle, and that could be an advantage for Texas.
This should be a hell of a series, and we love the matchup. The price is a little steep, but the Rangers should be victorious.
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