The Chicago Cubs are widely considered the odds-on favorite to protect their crown. Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post disagrees.
Greenberg outlined reasons why Chicago will step back – with the primary one being a stabilizing of its rotation. Greenberg points out the Cubs have the largest different in real and expected ERA in a decade. He said the starters overachieved, and the Los Angeles rotation is the one to watch.
“The Dodgers, meanwhile, had an ERA (3.95) in line with all three of those metrics and they get Clayton Kershaw back in the rotation. Projections have Kershaw going 16-7 with a 2.33 ERA for the Los Angeles Dodgers, striking out 254 batters over 208 innings while producing 7.4 wins above replacement, the most in baseball, making him the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Cy Young Award. His presence, along with the rest of the rotation, should give Los Angeles the edge in terms of ERA and wins above replacement for the upcoming season.”
FanGraphs projects L.A. to have the highest rotation WAR in 2017 (26), followed by the Mets, Nationals, Indians, Red Sox. The Cubs come in No. 5 at 16.8.
Current World Series odds from @BovadaLV
– Cubs, Red Sox 9/2
– Indians, Dodgers 9/1
– Giants, Nats 11/1
– Astros, Mets 14/1
– Jays 22/1
— Big League Stew (@bigleaguestew) March 31, 2017
Greenberg said he sees the Dodgers as less risky than the Cubs. On paper, perhaps that’s true. But the Dodgers come with an assortment of risks as well. They invested in Rich Hill, who has a lengthy list of injuries. Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez have been hurt this spring. The backend of the rotation is full of questions marks: Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood, Brock Stewart and Scott Kazmir are all uncertainties. Kenta Maeda had a strong rookie showing, but his fading down the stretch causes concern.
But one can find holes with any team. Los Angeles may be the best equipped to handle what comes its way, but baseball is largely a game of luck. The Dodgers will hope it’s on their side for the first time since 1988.