The 2018 World Series is a match made in Major League Baseball heaven.
In one corner, you have the Boston Red Sox, the class of the American League, and one of the most historical teams in the sport.
In the other corner, you have the Los Angeles Dodgers, the powerhouse of the National League the last few years, and the World Series runner ups from a year ago.
The 114th edition of the Fall Classic is the 13th World Series appearance for the Red Sox, who have won the championship three times in the last 15 years.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are seeking their first title in 30 years, as they appear in their 20th World Series in franchise history.
Despite both teams combining for 33 World Series appearances, they have only met once previously in the Fall Classic, and that was in 1916 when the then Brooklyn Robins lost to the Red Sox in five games. Babe Ruth pitched a 14-inning complete game in the clincher.
So who is going to win this rematch 102 years in the making? Let's break it down in this East vs. West World Series Preview:
Clayton Kershaw vs. Chris Sale
Game 1 features a pitching fan's dream, as two of the best to ever toe the rubber face off on Tuesday night.
Sale and Kershaw are two of the best to ever put on the glove, and have a combined 14 All-Star appearances between them (seven each), the first time two pitchers have met in the World Series with at least 14 combined All-Star appearances since Whitey Ford and Billy Pierce dueled in 1962.
Kershaw ranks first in ERA+ among all active pitchers in MLB history, and Sale ranks ninth, so if you like runs, this might not be the game for you.
Sale struggled with injures at the end of the season, and lost velocity during his starts in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively. However, after missing his start in the ALCS with a stomach infection, Sale is on nine days rest for Game 1 of the World Series.
Kershaw has been hit or miss in the postseason over his career, and has never pitched at Fenway Park before. He could be dominant, or he could collapse, honestly, it's a coin flip.
A Sundry of Southpaws
Both starting rotations are stacked with left-handers, so expect to see a lot right-handed batters in both lineups throughout the series.
After Kershaw and Sale, another set of lefties in Hyun-Jin Ryu and David Price are set to battle before two right-handers take the mound in Game 3. The Dodgers will start another left-hander in Rich hill in Game 4, and have three left-handers in the bullpen they can unleash at any time.
Lots of Offense
Both lineups are lethal and each ranked eighth in their respective leagues in total offense and OPS against left-handed pitching.
In the postseason, the Dodgers lead the league in home runs with 13, but sport just a .218 batting average compared to .253 for the Red Sox who have hit nine homers in the postseason thus far.
During the regular season, Boston finished ninth in the Majors with 208 home runs, whereas the Dodgers hit a franchise record 235, the most in the NL.
However, Boston led the league in batting average at .268, well above the rest of the teams in the big leagues. The Dodgers ranked 14th in average at .250.
Needless to say, if Los Angeles is able to hit home runs, they will probably win the game, if not, it sways in Boston's favor.
American League vs. National League
Overall, the American League holds the advantage in the World Series with a 65-48 edge. However, the National League has won nine out of the last 17 Fall Classic's since the year 2000.
The deciding factor in many of these games outside of home field advantage is the use of the DH hitter when the games are played in the American League, and without one when played in the National League.
For Games 1 and 2, the Dodgers are expected to have 2018 All-Star Matt Kemp in the DH slot, using the rest of their platoon players as pinch-hitters for bullpen matchups later in the game.
It will be business as usual for Boston as J.D. Martinez will be in the DH spot for the first two games in Boston.
When the series shifts to the National League for Games 3, 4, and 5. The advantage is expected to lean towards Los Angeles who have become masters at moving pieces around and making double-switches all season long.
The Red Sox are expected to move Martinez to the outfield for the games in Los Angeles, and future AL MVP Mookie Betts is expected to play second base, moving Andrew Benintendi to the bench.
Kenley Jansen vs. Craig Kimbrel
The closer position is solidified for both teams, with Kenley Jansen back to his All-Star form after a perfect record in the postseason.
You can't say the same for Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who has struggled during Boston's World Series run, with an ERA of 8.44 in 5 and 1/3 innings.
According to multiple reports, former Dodgers and Red Sox closer, Eric Gagne, noticed on television that Kimbrel was tipping his pitches and reached out to Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The issue is apparently fixed, and if so, Kimbrel could also be back to his All-Star form just in time for the Fall Classic.
Who Will Win?
The Red Sox won an MLB-best 108 games in the 2018 season, 16 more than the Dodgers. Los Angeles had an impressive +194 run differential and have played inconsistent all year long.
The series should come down to starting pitching and which team can gain an advantage on their opponent. Oddsmakers have the Red Sox as the heavy favorites however, as Boston is expected to win the World Series in six games.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are hoping history can repeat itself as they went on a similarly magical run to win the World Series in 1988 when they defeated the heavily favorited Oakland Athletics in five games.