The World Series may seem like a long way away, but in reality it begins on Tuesday in the stadium of the team with the best record remaining.
Although Game 1 of the Fall Classic is less than a week away, there’s still plenty to be determined in the ALCS and NLCS between now and Sunday, when Game 7 of the NLCS is set to take place if needed.
Until then, all we can do is dream about what potential showdowns we’ll see throughout the World Series.
World Series 2017 Schedule
All Games televised by Fox
Game 1: Tuesday, Oct. 24, Houston Astros at L.A. Dodgers, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 2: Wednesday, Oct. 25, Houston Astros at L.A. Dodgers, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 3: Friday, Oct. 27, L.A. Dodgers at Houston, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 4: Saturday, Oct. 28, L.A. Dodgers at Houston, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 5: x-Sunday, Oct. 29, L.A. Dodgers at Houston, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 6: x-Tuesday, Oct. 31, Houston Astros at L.A. Dodgers, 8 p.m. Eastern
Game 7: x-Wednesday, Nov. 1, Houston Astros at L.A. Dodgers, 8 p.m. Eastern
Here’s what’s happening around Major League Baseball:
TRUST IN JUSTIN
Justin Verlander and the Astros try to stave off elimination and force a decisive Game 7 in the AL Championship Series when they host the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park (8:08 p.m. EDT). Verlander has won all eight outings with Houston since arriving in an Aug. 31 trade, including his first career relief appearance during the Division Series clincher at Boston. The 2011 AL MVP is 10-5 with a 3.18 ERA in his postseason career, and an 11th win would tie him with Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling for fifth place all-time. Young ace Luis Severino starts for New York in a rematch of Game 2, when Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and threw a season-high 124 pitches for a 2-1 victory. The Yankees have shown they can adjust, though. Houston’s other Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, dominated Game 1 before taking a 5-0 loss in Game 5.
Potential Pitching Matchups
Clayton Kershaw vs. Justin Verlander
There aren’t many potential pitching matchups in the World Series that would stir up more hype than one featuring two of the premier arms of this generation.
Clayton Kershaw would be making his first career start in the World Series after suffering through years of postseason heartbreak in Los Angeles. Since entering the majors in 2008, Kershaw is 144-64 in the regular season but just 5-7 in the postseason. He’s also recorded 200 or more strikeouts in seven of his last eight seasons.
Justin Verlander, who moved to Houston from Detroit in August, carried plenty of World Series experience into 2017, but just because he’s pitched in a Fall Classic doesn’t mean he’s had success. Verlander is 0-3 in three World Series starts. With that in mind, as well as helping Houston to a championship, he’d have plenty of motivation to thrive on the mound.
Kershaw is starting on Thursday in NLCS Game 5 for the Dodgers, while Verlander will take the mound in Friday’s ALCS Game 6 for the Astros. Although it might not be a Game 1 showdown, there’s a decent chance these two could face later in the series.
Jon Lester vs. C.C. Sabathia
Another potential clash of generational greats could come if the Yankees and Cubs both advance to the World Series.
Jon Lester has the most postseason experience of any active pitcher with 148 innings over eight postseasons. The left-hander boasts an impressive 4-1 World Series record, which is the crown jewel of his 9-7 overall record in the postseason.
Sabathia isn’t far behind Lester in postseason innings, as he’s tossed 123 to go along with his 10-5 postseason record over eight postseasons. However, Sabathia only has an 0-1 mark in a pair of World Series starts.
The potential of this matchup is dependent on the next four days of postseason baseball. Sabathia could either come back to start Game 7 of the ALCS or play a role in relief, while Lester would have to make at least one more start in Los Angeles if the Cubs pull off a miraculous comeback.
Dallas Keuchel vs. Yu Darvish
If the Astros come back from their 3-2 deficit against the Yankees, they’ll most likely send Dallas Keuchel to the mound in Game 1 of the World Series barring a potential appearance in relief on Friday and Saturday.
Before Wednesday’s ALCS Game 5 defeat, Keuchel was lights out in the postseason for the Astros. The left-hander would love nothing more than to rectify his poor performance on Wednesday at the start of one of the most meaningful series in franchise history.
If Kershaw gets stretched to the max in Game 5, or if the Dodgers close the NLCS out in six games, there’s a decent chance Yu Darvish would get the ball for Game 1 of the World Series on a full week of rest. Darvish joined the Dodgers specifically to win a championship, and he has plenty of familiarity with the Astros lineup from his time with the Texas Rangers.