The 2017 World Series is in the books. After an amazing 7 games, the Houston Astros beat the L.A. Dodgers 5 to 2 in game 7 on Wednesday, Nov. 1, to win the World Series Trophy. There were a lot of crazy, wild, moments in this year’s Fall Classic. There was also some amazing baseball. Check out a recap of one of the most memorable World Series in quite some time!
2017 World Series Recap
The World Series is Still All About Pitching
No matter how you cut it, winning the World Series requires decent pitching. Sure, the Houston Astros brought the league’s top offense to this year’s Fall Classic. That helped the Astros win the trophy in the end. But, without decent pitching, and some luck, the Stros never would have been in a position to beat the favored L.A. Dodgers in Game 7.
What’s so interesting is that both aces for each team sort of failed during the Series. Check it out!
L.A. Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw, arguably the top pitcher in Major League Baseball, had a fantastic Game 1. He allowed 3 hits in 7 innings. He allowed only a single run. He struck out 11. Clayton also pitched well in Game 7. By that time, the battle was out of reach, though.
What happened to Clayton in Game 5? Kershaw was brilliant until the 4th inning when he yielded 4 runs. The Dodgers let Game 5 go after building a 4 to 0 lead. The Astros ended up beating the Dodgers 13 to 12.
Game 5 is where things turned for L.A. in this series. Kershaw must accept some of the blame. When your ace is on the mound, you give him a 4 run lead, and he still manages to blow it, that’s on your ace. He’s on the mound to nail down the win.
L.A. Dodgers – Yu Darvish
Darvish bombed in both of his starts during the World Series. In his Game 3 start, Yu lasted 1.2 innings. He allowed a ridiculous 4 earned runs off 6 hits while striking out 0. In his Game 7 start, Darvish allowed 4 earned runs off 3 hits while striking out 0.
What’s really sad is that Darvish, throughout his career, has held the Houston Astros in check. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts had every reason to believe that Yu would be as brilliant against Houston in the World Series as he had been throughout his career.
L.A. Dodgers – Bullpen
During the regular season, the L.A. Dodgers’ bullpen posted a 3.38 ERA. That ranked 4th in MLB. In the playoffs, the Dodgers’ bullpen was 2.39. That ranked second in the playoffs. It’s difficult to fault the Dodgers’ bullpen for any loss during the series.
Houston Astros – Justin Verlander
The Stros acquired Justin Verlander specifically for this World Series’ run. Verlander, for the most part, was exactly what Houston had in mind when they traded for him this summer. How good was Verlander during the 2017 World Series?
In Game 2, Verlander gave up 3 earned runs, struck out 5, and walked 2. Verlander didn’t give up those runs until the 5th and 6th innings. He pitched well enough for the Stros to win Game 2, 7 to 6. Verlander was even better in Game 6, the one the Dodgers’ ended up winning 3 to 1.
For most of the game, Verlander was phenomenal. Then, he gave up 2 earned runs in the 6th. The Dodgers added a run in the 7th. Houston couldn’t come back. All in all, Verlander performed well during the 2017 World Series.
Houston Astros – Dallas Kuechel
The same couldn’t be said for Dallas Kuechel. While Justin Verlander pitched well in 2 World Series’ starts, Kuechel wasn’t himself, he wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t himself from the first inning in Game 1. He lasted 6.2 innings in Game 1. He didn’t pitch terribly. But, he only struck out 3 and he allowed 3 earned runs.
Kuechel was terrible in key Game 5. In that game, he didn’t do much of anything. He at least didn’t pitch the way that he should have. Kuechel lasted 3.2 innings. He allowed 3 earned runs off 5 hits. He only struck out 4. Kuechel was as bad as I’ve seen him in a long time.
It didn’t matter. Houston won Game 5, 13 to 12, in what will go down as one of the very best World Series games ever played.
Houston Astros – Bullpen
The Astros bullpen had a 4.27 ERA during the regular season. The Stros’ BP was actually worse during the MLB Playoffs. Houston relievers had a 5.40 ERA. Houston relievers allowed 14 home runs during the MLB Playoffs.
Considering how badly Houston’s relievers pitched during the World Series, it’s a wonder how the Astros won a single game, much less 4. Keep reading to find out how Houston pulled off a World Series win without it’s bullpen locking down Dodgers’ hitters.
When the story about the 2017 World Series is told 20 years from now, most baseball writers will only speak 2 words: George Springer. Brilliance matters in the World Series. If you don’t believe it, ask the Dodgers about George Springer.
Springer tied a record for home runs in the World Series. He hit 5. That wasn’t all. He also had 4 games out of the 7 where he had at least 2 hits. Springer ended up with a .379 batting average. Brilliant? Better than that. Springer’s performance was legendary.
…So Does Pitching Changes
The manager that made the most effective pitching changes in Game 5 is the manager whose team ended up winning the game. Game 5, like it is many times in a 7-game series, ended up as the most important in the World Series.
The Dodgers had a 4 to 0 lead before the Astros chased Clayton Kershaw in the 4th inning. Everything appeared okay for LAD until manager Dave Roberts decided to send Brandon Morrow to the mound. The plan was not to pitch Morrow at all in Game 5. But, Roberts decided that putting Morrow in the game was necessary. Morrow allowed 4 earned runs off 4 hits. The move might have also changed Morrow’s availability in Game 7. Morrow only pitched .1 of an inning.
Then again, Dave Roberts didn’t have to start Yu Darvish in Game 7. The Stros dominated Darvish in Game 7 the same way they dominated him in Game 2. Roberts giving Darvish another chance, not going with someone like Rich Hill, is why the Dodgers lost the World Series.
Can the Houston Astros Repeat as World Series Winners in 2018?
The easy answer is no. The last team to win back-to-back World Series were the New York Yankees in 2000. The Yankees won 3 World Series in a row from 1998 to 2000. It takes a special team to win back-to-back World Series.
Houston could be that special team. First, the Astros only have 5 free agents this season. Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Luke Gregerson, Tyler Clippard, and Francisco Liriano are the Astros only 5 free agents. None of the 5 are particularly important to Houston winning the World Series in 2018. With only 5 free agents to resign, or let go in this case, it sure appears the Stros are ready to make it back to back.
However, Houston has some things to work on. The Astros must figure out their closer situation. Manager A.J. Hinch benched closer Ken Giles during the World Series because he just didn’t have his stuff. Hinch didn’t have an excellent job taking advantage of the Dave Roberts’ mistakes.
That may or may not happen next season. Until Hinch finds a new closer, it’s difficult to see the Astros repeating as World Series Champions. That’s the first problem I have with Houston winning back-to-back World Series.
The second issue is the state of Houston’s bullpen. It’s rare to find a World Series winner with a bullpen that has an ERA over 5.00. Unless Houston’s bullpen improves, another World Series win is not likely to happen.