There will be a new World Series champion this year, because the Boston Red Sox didn’t make the postseason.
In fact, only one champ from the past seven years _ Houston _ is in the remaining playoff field. Teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Nationals have certainly fielded good teams in recent years, only to fall short one way or another. Now they have another chance.
With the wild card games out of the way, there are 16 possible World Series matchups left. Here’s a list of them all _ and what could make each of them interesting. The matchups are listed in descending order of likelihood, using probability figures from Fangraphs.com heading into Thursday’s action:
A rematch of the 2017 World Series. This would be the first time the same teams met in the World Series twice in a three-year span since the Yankees played the Dodgers in both 1977 and 1978.
Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer know each other well from their postseason runs with Detroit. Scherzer has won two Cy Young Awards with Washington since leaving the Tigers, but Verlander won a title in 2017 with Houston.
This rivalry has lost some of its luster since the teams haven’t met in the World Series since 1981. Because of playoff expansion, the Yankees and Dodgers have more postseason hurdles to clear now than in the 1950s, so if they do reach the ultimate stage at the same time, it would be pretty special.
When these teams were both in the National League, Houston once eliminated Atlanta on an 18th-inning home run. That was en route to the Astros’ first World Series appearance in 2005.
A matchup of contrasts. Washington would lean on its rotation trio of Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, while New York would figure to have a massive advantage in the bullpen.
Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, was previously a successful executive for Tampa Bay. This would be another interesting contrast _ between the big-market Dodgers and the low-budget Rays _ but these have both become model organizations in their own way.
Yes, this series would have obvious intrigue after the Cardinals were punished in 2017 for hacking the Astros’ email system and scouting database. St. Louis had to give Houston the 56th pick in that year’s draft, which the Astros used to take right-hander Corbin Martin. This year, Martin was part of the package Houston traded for Zack Greinke.
These are the only two franchises left in this postseason that have never won a World Series. The Nationals have never even won a pennant, in Washington or Montreal.
This would be a throwback to the latter half of the 1990s, when the Yankees beat Atlanta twice in the World Series. New York won the last four games in 1996 and all four in 1999.
Minnesota and Los Angeles played a seven-game classic in 1965. Sandy Koufax shut out the Twins 2-0 in the finale to win the title.
The Cardinals have actually held their own against New York historically, winning three of their five World Series matchups with the Yankees. The 1926 edition ended with Babe Ruth being caught trying to steal second. It’s hard to imagine Aaron Judge attempting something similar.
Matt Joyce spent six seasons with Tampa Bay and played in the postseason in 2010, 2011 and 2013. He’s with Atlanta now and at age 35, he hit nearly .300 for the Braves while receiving increased at-bats over the past couple months.
Washington’s current team vs. one of its previous editions. Both have had a hard time getting past the Division Series of late.
Tommy Pham was traded from St. Louis to Tampa Bay in 2018, and he’s been a contributor for the Rays. The outfielder hit .273 with 21 home runs this season.
The 1991 World Series between Minnesota and Atlanta was one of the most exciting ever, with Jack Morris winning a 10-inning Game 7 for the Twins. Minnesota has not been to the World Series since, while the Braves won four more pennants and a title during the 1990s.
The home team won every game when Minnesota and St. Louis met in the 1987 World Series, but the Cardinals wouldn’t have to contend with the Metrodome this time. The Twins hit a record 307 home runs this year. St. Louis hit 210, the fewest of any team in the postseason.
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