Dodgers: LA’s offense is the kryptonite to Verlander’s hot streak

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Justin Turner (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Justin Turner (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Dodgers head into game two of the World Series up one game to none. Rich Hill is taking the bump for LA while Houston calls on Justin Verlander.

At one point this season Justin Verlander was a serious trade target for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, the Boys in Blue square off against the hard-throwing right-hander with a two-game lead at stake. Although this may not be a do or die game, it may be as “must win” as you can get.

With a win, the Dodgers will head back to Houston with a guarantee that the Astros cannot finish them at home. The Dodgers would need to win two of the three in Houston to win the series there, but just need to win one to head back to LA for game six with a chance to win it all. At the very worst, LA would head back home with two chances to win two games.

With the loss, the Astros would be walking away with a much-needed split that puts them in a position to win at home. While it would be hard to put the Dodgers down for four consecutive games, it would give them a chance. Keep in mind — the Astros are undefeated at home this postseason and own a 1-5 record on the road. LA is 5-0 at home and 3-1 on the road.

However, Houston was a better team on the road this season. The Astros were 48-33 at home while they were 53-28 on the road. Walking away with two wins at home is huge for the Dodgers, especially with a 47-34 road record of their own.

Thus, Verlander is a huge call for the Astros in game two. The balance of this series hangs on his shoulders, and after the offense got held to one run on three hits with 12 strikeouts, the team needs a strong performance. Luckily for Houston, Verlander has been great this postseason.

Verlander boasts a 4-0 postseason record with a 1.46 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched. He was especially dominant against the Yankees in the ALCS, throwing 16 innings while allowing just one run on ten hits. New York has some big bats, but Verlander is facing an entirely new offense in Los Angeles.

Verlander is yet to face a lineup as complete as the Dodgers this postseason. The Red Sox’ bats were struggling and the offensive production from the Yankees hinders on Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Los Angeles has eight great hitters up and down their lineup.

Dallas Keuchel is the Astros’ only hope in containing the Dodgers’ bats and they even scored three runs off of him. Los Angeles wants to put the ball in the air and out of the park, Keuchel did a great job at pitching to his strengths and getting groundballs. Unfortunately for the Astros, Verlander has the third worst groundball percentage (33.5%) of qualified pitchers, according to FanGraphs.

On the flip side, 11.5% of fly balls hit off of Verlander are home runs, the 11th lowest among qualified pitchers. Verlander relies on the strikeout and does not allow many home runs by initiating soft contact in the air.

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However, the Dodgers had the second best hard contract rate this season, hitting the ball hard 35.5% of the time. The Yankees? They were 22nd with 30.2%.

These Dodger bats are dangerous. They will work Verlander’s pitch count up, and when he does come into the zone with hard stuff, the Dodgers have the ability to the ball hard right back at him. There is no way that the Dodgers allow Verlander to go more than seven innings; even if he is dealing.

While the Dodgers shied away from it in game one, the team has been great in working pitch counts up this postseason, thus forcing opposing pitchers out of the game. Much like with the Diamondbacks and Cubs, the Astros do not have the greatest bullpen. Even if the Dodgers can only score two off of Verlander in six innings, it is a win to get to the ‘pen so soon.

Next: Dodgers' greatest World Series moments

However, the Dodger bats are due for more than just two runs. All the stars are aligned for an offensive onslaught by the Dodgers.