Kershaw and Keuchel set to open high-powered World Series

Dodgers and Astros managers having a laughThe weather isn’t the only thing red-hot heading into Tuesday’s World Series opener in Los Angeles, where temperatures are expected to reach summer levels. The Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting the Houston Astros in the first World Series meeting between two 100-win teams since 1970, and both teams have the tools to make this a memorable championship.

The Dodgers will send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound, which is only fitting. Kershaw has been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade, winning three Cy Young awards and an MVP, but this is his first taste of World Series action, and he’s up against the best offense in baseball. Kershaw’s performance in Game 1 will set the tone for Los Angeles, which lived and died by its pitching during the regular season.

If Kershaw can keep Houston’s big bats like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa at bay, he could make life difficult for Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. While Keuchel has been outstanding at home in the postseason, his one road start against the New York Yankees did not go so well, with Keuchel getting pulled in the fifth inning after allowing four runs in the eventual 5-0 loss. The confines of Dodger Stadium promise to be as inhospitable as New York was for Keuchel, making Tuesday a tough mental test for the Astros’ ace.

Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner are leading the way for the Dodgers at the plate, especially at home, where Los Angeles is undefeated in the postseason. Together, Puig and Turner account for 16 of the Dodgers’ 24 RBI in home playoff games. Houston also enters the World Series with a perfect postseason record at home, where their pitching has completely shut down opponents, and the championship will likely be decided by the team that manages to steal a road win.

This World Series appearance is the culmination of a complete rebuild by the Astros, who have never won a championship and spent four years in the MLB’s basement, enduring a switch from the National League to the American League while developing their star players like Keuchel and Altuve. Los Angeles has waited 29 years since its last World Series win for another chance at glory, amassing the highest payroll in the league in the process. The two teams’ philosophies on how to build a winner could not be more different, but only one will be proven correct.