Arlington, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona are buzzing, and the baseball world is intrigued as the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers prepare for an unprecedented World Series matchup.
This is the first Fall Classic appearance for the Rangers since they were defeated in the 2011 World Series, and this is the Diamondback’s first World Series appearance since they won in 2001. The Rangers have never won a World Series, and the D-backs are looking to go 2-0 in World Series berths. Both teams were under .500 in 2022 and are last to remain in 2023, so how did they get here?
The Diamondbacks, since trading Paul Goldschmidt in 2018 and lazily battling with the Colorado Rockies for second-worst in the division, have been boring.
That narrative has crumbled, as it is arguable that the Diamondbacks are now the most exciting team in MLB. Bludgeoning their way past the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, the D-backs have commanded respect.
Veteran Ketel Marte has patiently waited to play on the big stage, and he has proven his stardom. The 2023 National League Championship Series MVP has hit .358 with two home runs in the playoffs. To top it off, he’s riding a 16-game hit streak, which is the record for a postseason first-timer.
Although he’s a rookie, Corbin Carroll is performing like a veteran with his .841 playoff OPS. Carroll roped three hits and drove in two runs in NLCS Game 7 against Philadelphia.
Rookie catcher Gabriel Moreno has been lethal for Arizona, driving in nine runners this postseason. From his homer off Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Corbin Burnes in the Wild Card to his go-ahead RBI single in Game 7 against Philadelphia, Moreno has been clutch.
The Rangers are the behemoth in this World Series matchup. Texas has destroyed baseballs this postseason, posting a playoff-best team OPS of .825 and hitting 22 home runs this postseason.
The top Ranger this postseason has been American League Championship Series MVP Adolis García, who’s homered seven times. Garcia set the record for most RBIs in a postseason series, driving in 15 runners in the ALCS. Garcia silenced Houston Astros fans’ boos after he pummeled a grand slam to give the Rangers a 9-2 lead in Game 6 of the ALCS. Garcia carried his kerosene-drenched bat into Game 7 where it caught fire, hitting two home runs and driving in five runners to send the Astros packing.
The 2020 World Series MVP Corey Seager has been a menace offensively. The $325-million-man has hit three homers and notched a 1.127 OPS.
Arizona’s pitching staff has tossed a 3.23 ERA and stymied offenses to a .231 batting average. Utilizing a three-headed attack, the D-backs have sent Merrill Kelly, Zac Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt out for 11 of 12 starts this postseason.
Carson Kelly has been reliable for Arizona since 2019, which has continued this October. Allowing only nine hits in 17 innings, Kelly will be a force against Texas. Rookie pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, utilizing his five-pitch combo, has struck out 22 batters in 16.2 innings pitched.
Gallen, a career 3.21 ERA pitcher, has allowed 24 hits and 13 earned runs in 22.1 playoff innings. If the D-backs are to win the World Series, Gallen has to improve his play.
Texas relies on two lockdown starters to win games. Trade deadline acquisition Jordan Montgomery has thrown 25 innings with a 2.16 ERA. The deceptive lefty has twirled gems in each outing this postseason. Nathan Eovaldi has once again proven he’s big-time. In four starts, Eovaldi holds a 2.42 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. As a Boston Red Sox player in the 2018 World Series, Eovaldi heaved eight innings with a 1.13 ERA. The postseason veteran should be relied upon by Texas to record big-time outs.
The X-factor for Texas in this series is Max Scherzer. The three-time Cy Young Award winner’s 2023 playoff ERA has swelled to 9.45 after two gut-punching starts against the Astros.
How Both Teams Can Win
Offensively, Arizona must continue playing gritty baseball because their bats cannot keep up with Texas’. The D-backs must steal bases, play sound defense and manufacture runs to win this series.
The D-backs must ride their three-headed monster into glory if they are to win this series. If Gallen can rebound for Arizona, he, Kelly and Pfaadt can dominate the Rangers from the hill.
The Rangers’ path to winning is to start slugging and never stop. The Rangers’ offense is the motor of the Texas engine, and without it, they’ll be stopped.
Eovaldi and Montgomery need to continue being reliable for Texas. The third starter is dicey, but Scherzer is capable of dominance. As long as the bullpen doesn’t allow late-game comebacks, the Rangers could be hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy.