The Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers will play on the same field in the World Series, but when it comes to money the two teams are not on the same planet.
The American League champion Rays payroll is only about $28 million and is dwarfed by the National League champion Dodgers collection of salaries totaling around $128 million.
Yet, for only the fourth time since 1995, when wild card teams were introduced to baseball playoffs, the teams with the best records in their leagues will meet in the World Series.
As the money gap suggests it is not surprise that the Dodgers are in the World Series for the third time in four years. The Dodgers have won eight straight division titles and an already deep team was made even better when they signed Mookie Betts to a 12-year contract and he helped them cruise to a 43-17 regular season record.
“Betts has played in World Series and won a championship with the Red Sox,” said Washington Nationals radio voice Charlie Slowes. “He gives you every facet of the game, hitting, throwing catching, speed on the bases, home run power, line drive hits. He hits for average. You name it, he does it.”
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With the Red Sox in 2018 Betts became the first player in MLB history to win the Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove awards while capturing the batting title and being part of a World Series winning team in the same season.
The Rays only previous appearance in the World Series was back in 2008. They are one of six teams without a title. The others are the Rockies, Mariners, Brewers, Padres and Rangers.
In running away with the AL East the Rays relied on dominant pitchers led by a staff of three aces, Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and game one starter Tyler Glasnow.
“I think the Rays’ starting pitching, if they allow them to stay in the game long enough, has an edge over the Dodgers’ overall starting pitching,” said Slowes.
“With the Rays, it seems as soon as somebody gets on base in the sixth inning their starter is out of the game, but I think their starting pitching gives them an advantage, and I think overall their bullpen is better, too.”
Unlike previous series in the 2020 postseason, there will be days off in the World Series.
“The extra days make a difference,” said Slowes. “Now you have a chance to bring your Game One starter back in Game Five on regular rest to pitch because you’ll have a day off after the first two games. And if you do go heavy on your relievers, we know seeing what the Nationals did last year, the day offs really helped them to do what they did.”
As for a World Series prediction, Slowes believes it all comes down to a couple of questions:
“Do the Rays hit enough against the Dodgers pitching? Can the Rays pitching hold down that big Dodgers’ offense? For me I think it will be very close and maybe the Rays win it in six of seven games.”