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Anthony Davis Was Key For The Lakers’ Title Run. He’s Also The Key To Their Future.

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The championship ambitions of the Los Angeles Lakers naturally centered on the historically great pedigree of LeBron James. But Anthony Davis proved to be the Lakers’ ultimate margin for error throughout its title run.

In the six seasons preceding Davis’s arrival, the Lakers missed the playoffs more times than they did in their first 65 years combined (five). The Lakers’ star duo provided All-NBA production this year en route to snapping the franchise’s decadelong Finals drought — equivalent to several eternities for most Laker fans — and becoming just the third team in league history to clinch a Finals berth after missing the playoffs over at least five previous seasons. But Davis joined the Lakers already on his own Hall-of-Fame pace, his combination of youth (he turns 28 in March) and stardom aligning perfectly with LeBron’s careerlong prime (he turns 36 in December).

Though Davis has expressed an ambition to follow LeBron “to hopefully nine more Finals,” he has yet to sign a contract extension with the Lakers, who have only LeBron’s $41 million player-option for 2021-22 on its books beyond next season, according to Spotrac. What The Brow decides to do next could set the course for the foreseeable future for this franchise.

With his 7-foot-6 wingspan, Davis produced a Finals run illustrating that his broad shoulders are the perfect bridge between James’s win-now window and the Lakers’ long-term future, provided he chooses to stay in L.A. Here’s a closer look at just what he means to the team.

Clutch-time impact

LeBron’s championship chases are brimful of the most pivotal buckets in NBA postseason history, and not just his own. Shots from his teammates — namely those of Ray Allen (2013) and Kyrie Irving (2016) — will be remembered for years.

In Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference finals, Davis added his own clutch memory by sending the Nuggets home with a loss via buzzer-beater, the first by any Laker while trailing in a playoff game since Kobe Bryant in 2006, per BasketballReference.com. The Brow scored 10 points in clutch time in that Game 2, which provided the Lakers with a 2-0 series lead and marked half of his team-high 20 such points in the playoffs. James was the only other Laker to score at least 10 clutch-time points all postseason.

“I want to be aggressive, take some pressure off this guy [LeBron James] over here,” Davis told the media after the shot — his second career buzzer-beater. “A lot of teams lock in on him late game. … I’ve got his back and he’s got mine. Especially in the fourth quarter, we have each other’s back and will be locked in. That’s something we’ve been able to do, especially in this series.”

In the NBA Finals, Davis’s presence swung the Lakers’ net rating by a team-best 26.5 points, more than 11 points higher than second-place LeBron, per NBA Advanced Stats. The Brow proved at various points against Miami that he can both provide and stifle offense.

After Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double for Miami in Game 3, just the third in Finals history, Davis requested the assignment of guarding Butler in the next outing. In Game 4, Jimmy got buckets to the tune of a Heat-high 22 points, but he shot just 1-for-5 when guarded by Davis. The Lakers’ collective effort that night gave them a 3-1 series lead, a championship advantage conquered only once before — by the legend Davis found himself running the league with.

Extending LeBron

In seven seasons preceding his arrival in L.A., Davis never advanced past the second round in the playoffs. In the season preceding The Brow’s arrival, LeBron and the Lakers missed the playoffs entirely. The Lakers’ new star duo both wanted and needed each other at respectively critical stages of their careers.

At age 35, LeBron finished second in MVP voting for the fourth time in his career, tied with Larry Bird and Jerry West for the most in league history. Though LeBron disagreed with the final count, he and Davis were the only pair of teammates to tally a point in voting. For some, Davis’s presence might dilute the rest of LeBron’s career, but their respective games actually go hand-in-hand, allowing LeBron to extend his prime.

For example: Including the playoffs, LeBron dimed Davis 238 times over the 2019-20 campaign, by far his highest single-season total among the 141 teammates to score off his passes.

For his part, Davis has consistently expanded his offensive repertoire, reaching new heights alongside LeBron. This season, Davis scored 328 points in the paint off his new teammate’s passes, another high among LeBron teammates. Including the playoffs, The Brow made a career-high 95 3-pointers, with 43 of them coming via the regular-season assist leader.

Anthony Davis has feasted on LeBron’s dimes

Teammates of LeBron James with at least 200 points in the paint off James passes in a single season, including playoffs, plus 3-pointers made

From LeBron’s passes
Player Season Points in the paint 3-pointers
Anthony Davis 2019-20 328 43
Dwyane Wade 2012-13 268 1
Dwyane Wade 2010-11 234 12
Anderson Varejao 2008-09 214 0

Source: NBA Advanced Stats

“I didn’t think we were going to be able to connect this fast just because of the fact he had a lot of stuff going on this summer with ‘Space Jam [2],’ so we didn’t get a lot of time to work out together,” Davis explained in November, months before the coronavirus pandemic further stagnated his adjustment with the eventual champions. “Then we hit a short training camp and had to go to China, and all that stuff, so I’m surprised that we’ve got a little connection right now.”

Throughout the Finals, their connection amounted to the Lakers’ outscoring the Heat by more than 14 points per 100 possessions with LeBron and AD sharing the court. Davis proved reliable over the 246 minutes LeBron sat in the postseason, marking James’s most minutes spent on the bench in any of his nine Finals appearances since 2011.

According to NBA Advanced Stats, the Lakers maintained a net rating of 5.0 over Davis’s 203 minutes without LeBron on the court in the playoffs. Much of the team’s success centered on The Brow boasting increases in rebounding, assist and usage rate while sporting a true shooting percentage of 68.7 in that sample size.

Over an entire postseason, that mark would be higher than any of Stephen Curry’s seven playoff runs.

Perimeter versatility

With his aforementioned 7-foot-6 wingspan, Davis is capable of connecting himself to any part of the court when anchoring defenses.

He held opponents to just 41.9 percent shooting throughout the playoffs, according to NBA Advanced Stats, trailing only Markieff Morris for the Lakers’ best mark. Once the Finals rolled around, Davis held Miami opponents to just 39.2 percent shooting as the Heat’s offensive efficiency declined by over 17 points with him on the court.

“That’s why he’s the Defensive Player of the Year,” LeBron told the media after Davis stifled Butler in Game 4. “We said that all year. His ability to play one through five, guard anybody on the floor, take the challenge, not only guard on the perimeter, and continue to protect the paint. Guards drive on him. It’s hard to score on him.”

Though Davis has not yet won Defensive Player of the Year honors, he boasts a case as arguably the league’s most versatile weapon on that side of the court. His combination of length, strength, agility and acumen can pose problems against any action at any spot, as evidenced by him holding opponents to the league’s lowest field-goal percentage on jumpers over the past five seasons, according to Second Spectrum.

AD shuts down jump shots

Top 5 defenders on jumpers over the past five seasons, including playoffs

Player Opp. Field Goal %
Anthony Davis 32.7%
Kevin Durant 33.1
Andre Roberson 33.1
Jayson Tatum 33.6
Eric Gordon 33.8

Among 239 players with a minimum of 1,000 jump shots defended.

Source: Second Spectrum

During his first season as a Laker, when defending from the paint, Davis ranked seventh among 96 qualified players in field-goal percentage allowed (47.3), the best mark by any Lakers defender in those same five seasons. Throughout his career, Davis has frustrated opponents by stifling their offense just as well as he provides his own.

During the regular season, Davis had his own struggles with his jumper, shooting just 34.9 percent on contested jump shots, his lowest rate in Second Spectrum’s seven seasons of play-by-play tracking. Fortunately for the Lakers, Davis found his footing by the playoffs, improving to 43.1 percent when shooting contested jumpers. Not only was that the best mark on the team, but his clip ranked 12th among 48 qualified shooters in the 2020 playoffs, placing him between Danilo Gallinari and CJ McCollum.

Interior dominance

As for Davis’s Hall-of-Fame pace, his Finals run with the Lakers only further cements his eventual case, on which Basketball-Reference gives a 96 percent probability.

Prior to Game 1 of the Finals, LeBron described why he believes Davis, despite all his accomplishments thus far, is only getting started at age 27.

“There’s a reason we wanted him here,” LeBron said to Yahoo Sports ahead of his 10th career Finals appearance. “He’s a complete player, and now the world is seeing what he can do in games that matter. All he ever wanted was a chance. That’s all anybody ever wants. And now that he has it, I think you’re going to see him flourish and he has. We haven’t seen the best of AD yet. He’s just scratching the surface.”

Even before joining the Lakers, Davis was already the only player to record at least 10,000 points and 1,000 blocks since 2012-13, his rookie season. In fact, he’s among just eight players since the 1973-74 season to record those numbers with 500 career games, with six of them already being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.1 Among those on this short list, only Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson reached those marks quicker than Davis, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Anthony Davis is in elite, big-man company

NBA players with at least 10,000 points and 1,000 blocks in their first 500 career games

BY the time of their 500th game
Player Team Season Points Blocks
Anthony Davis Lakers 2019-20 12,002 1,209
Elton Brand Clippers 2005-06 10,080 1,031
Tim Duncan Spurs 2003-04 11,454 1,261
Alonzo Mourning Heat 1999-2000 10,577 1,560
Shaquille O’Neal Lakers 1999-2000 13,589 1,353
David Robinson Spurs 1995-96 12,873 1,823
Patrick Ewing Knicks 1991-92 11,789 1,547
Hakeem Olajuwon Rockets 1990-91 11,634 1,693

Source: Basketball-Reference.com

As LeBron’s career nears its end, Davis’s prime should give the Lakers the cushion they need to maintain their now-restored championship window. The Lakers hope to rest their long-term ambitions on Davis’s broad shoulders as he continues walking the path of past legends while simultaneously breaking his own mold.

The idea already has a nice ring to it.

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Dodgers favored over Rays to win World Series

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Sportsbooks have installed the Los Angeles Dodgers as the favorites over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

After the Dodgers finished off the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, sportsbook operator William Hill U.S. made the Dodgers -210 favorites to beat the Rays in the series, which begins Tuesday. By Monday morning, the consensus price to bet the Dodgers has settled at -195, with the underdog Rays fetching +165 odds.

When the revised season was announced in June, the Dodgers were listed as co-favorites with the New York Yankees to win the World Series. The Dodgers remained at the top of oddsboards throughout the abbreviated regular season and have been the betting favorite in every game, including in the postseason. They became the eighth team to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a league championship series and are now headed to the franchise’s 21st World Series.

While the Dodgers have been wire-to-wire favorites, the Rays have been underdogs from the beginning. Tampa Bay entered the regular season as a mid-tier contender in sportsbooks’ eyes, with 18-1 odds to win the World Series. The Rays could be found as long as 30-1 as the playoffs began. They overcame the odds, though, knocking off the Yankees and the Houston Astros along the way to reach the franchise’s second World Series.

Entering the playoffs, the Dodgers had attracted 26% of the money wagered on the odds to win the World Series at William Hill. The Rays had attracted less than 3% of the money.

The Dodgers are around -170 favorites over the Ray in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday.

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Cam after loss: ‘No need to press panic button’

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — After the New England Patriots slipped under .500 for the first time this deep into a season since 2002, quarterback Cam Newton expressed confidence in a turnaround.

“There’s no need to press the panic button. There’s no need to start reinventing the wheel. We have the answers in that locker room,” Newton said Monday morning in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI.

The Patriots’ 18-12 loss to the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday came after the team had just two practices over a two-week span because of positive COVID-19 tests. Newton noted the lack of practice showed in the passing game, but added that there are no excuses.

Newton was 17-of-25 for 157 yards with two interceptions in the loss, and noted that his timing was off, which resulted in him holding on to the ball too long at times. He was sacked four times.

“I just have to be better, and I can’t stress that enough moving forward. The anticipation was off, I think that was the biggest discrepancy in not having practice,” he said in the radio interview. “Usually in most times, you can throw it way before the receiver is looking for it, and be on the money with it. But not having practice for as long as I have had practice, it just showed.”

Newton had tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2, which he said he initially believed would be a false result. He added that he wasn’t sure how he tested positive. Newton missed the Patriots’ Week 4 loss at Kansas City, was removed from the reserve COVID-19 list last Wednesday, and practiced for the first time the next day.

Newton said his final throw — a fourth-and-10 incompletion to receiver N’Keal Harry that ended a late comeback bid — reflected his rustiness.

“It goes back to anticipation. I knew I was going to get hit. I knew what route he was running, but that’s just a thing that I didn’t see it all week in practice,” Newton said. “Knowing what he had, him being faced with different circumstances of the leverage of the defender [to the inside of the field], I have to be better. I want to make that perfectly clear. I have to play better football for the New England Patriots and I will. I heard a person say once ‘I don’t point fingers, I point thumbs.’ I take full responsibility of where we are as an offense.”

Of possible personnel additions to the Patriots’ offense, Newton repeated that he believes the team has the players necessary to win.

“The grass is not always greener on the other side, a wise man once told me that. It just comes down to us producing better, and playing situational football better,” he said. “Going back and mentally looking back at the game, that was a sloppy display of football, for the first couple of series — different people taking turns making mistakes and that can not happen.

“Offensive football is the ultimate team sport, where even one person not doing their job, it shows. I think it showed yesterday.”

Still, Newton remains upbeat as he looks ahead to Sunday’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers (CBS, 4:25 p.m. ET)

“In talking about the whole big picture, I think we will be fine. We just have to do better when given the opportunity,” he said.

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Everything you need to know about Dodgers-Rays World Series

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I’m ready. Ready for Mookie Betts to play right field. Ready for Tyler Glasnow‘s fastball. Ready for Corey Seager‘s swing and Willy Adames‘ glove and Dustin May‘s hair and Ji-Man Choi‘s smile. Yes, ready for another trip with Clayton Kershaw in the World Series pressure cooker. We made it through the shortened season, through the controversial 16-team playoff bracket, through a losing — and controversial — team nearly making it here.

It’s going to be the strangest of World Series in one way: the first neutral site World Series, to be played at the Texas Rangers‘ new Globe Life Field. It is still the World Series, however, and we will have fans in stands. And after everything that has happened since March, we ended up with the two best teams in baseball playing for October glory. In fact, for only fourth time in the wild-card era (since 1995), the teams with the best record in each league will meet in the World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are back for the third time in four seasons, the first team to do that since the New York Yankees in 2000, 2001 and 2003. It’s the 63rd instance in major league history that a team has reached three World Series in a four-year span — most of those overlapping Yankees teams — and only two teams among the group did not a win a World Series, the 1907-09 Tigers and 1911-13 Giants. The Dodgers will be the heavy favorite, but a few days ago, they were all but dead before rallying from a 3-1 National League Championship Series deficit to beat a tough Atlanta Braves team. Maybe that will ease the burden of expectations. It’s almost like free baseball.

The Tampa Bay Rays are back for the second time in franchise history and the first time since 2008. They opened the season ranking 28th in the majors in payroll. The only team to reach the World Series since 1998 with a lower ranking? The 2008 Rays. They are a team seemingly without stars playing a team full of them. The Dodgers traded for Betts in the offseason; the Rays traded for an obscure rookie outfielder from the St. Louis Cardinals named Randy Arozarena. The Dodgers’ NLCS roster included 12 players who have been All-Stars in their careers, for a total of 26 appearances. The Rays’ roster features four All-Stars with five appearances.

First to four wins takes home the trophy. Here’s a guide to the 2020 World Series:

What the Rays have on the line: The first World Series victory in franchise history and proof that a small-market team with a small payroll can overcome not only the mighty and rich Yankees and Boston Red Sox in their division (not to mention New York in the playoffs), but the best of the National League as well. It is the ultimate reward for the franchise that kicked off the modern analytics movement — Tampa Bay was an early adopter of the shift, for example — and it has baseball’s fifth-best overall record since 2008.

What the Dodgers have on the line: They have won eight straight division titles. They won 104 games in 2017, 106 games in 2019 and more than 70% of their games this regular season, with the shortened schedule perhaps denying them the opportunity to chase down the 2001 Seattle Mariners‘ and 1906 Chicago Cubs‘ record of 116 victories. They remain without a title, however, and this great era of Dodgers baseball will leave fans with an empty feeling unless L.A. wins a World Series.

And given everything about this season, getting here was not easy. “2017 happened, 2018 happened, we fell short. Now we are back,” Dodgers infielder Enrique Hernandez said. “The past is in the past. This one feels super special because it is in front of us and it is happening. I am not going to take anything away from the other two, but this one is extremely special; we were able to stay COVID-free throughout the whole season.

“We took care of business in the regular season, we took care of business against the Brewers, we took care of business against the Padres, we took care of business against the Braves. It was a little harder than we thought it was going to be, but I am glad we pulled it off. Being down 3-1 then coming back and winning in seven games, it’s something that I will never forget. It is special for sure.”

Player with the most on the line: We all know Kershaw’s story. He is one of the best pitchers of all time, 175-76 in the regular season, with a 2.43 ERA, three Cy Young Awards and five ERA titles. He is going to be in the Hall of Fame. In the postseason, however, he is 11-12 with a 4.31 ERA. In two World Series, he is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. He has had too many crushing moments along the way. At this point in his career, greatness is no longer expected or even required for the Dodgers to win. Just pitch well enough and win that ring.

Who is Randy Arozarena? The 25-year-old rookie outfielder for the Rays is the hottest hitter on the planet. Acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason, he missed the start of the season after a positive COVID-19 test, debuted on Aug. 30 and hit seven home runs in September, and he is now having a breakout postseason. In 14 games, he is hitting .382/.433/.855 with seven home runs and 14 runs scored. He is just the fourth player with at least seven homers in the postseason before the World Series, matching Daniel Murphy of the 2015 New York Mets and B.J. Upton of the 2008 Rays, and one short of Carlos Beltran’s eight for the 2004 Houston Astros. True, Arozarena had an extra round, but he didn’t hit any home runs in the Wild Card Series against the Blue Jays. He homered three times against the Yankees in the American League Division Series and four times against the Astros in the AL Championship Series. His 47 total bases are already tied for second most in a single postseason, behind the 50 David Freese had for the 2011 Cardinals, the year he won MVP honors in both the NLCS and World Series.

“I think what Randy did was pretty miraculous,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the ALCS.

That almost feels like an understatement, especially when considering the rest of the Rays hit .183 in the series. Born in Cuba, Arozarena left the country five years ago on a small boat, landing in Mexico after an eight-hour ride across choppy waters. He found his way to the developmental academy of the Toros de Tijuana club, where he had to share cleats and batting gloves with another prospect. The Cardinals spotted him playing for the Toros’ version of a minor league team and signed him in 2016. He made his major league debut with the Cards in 2019.

“Everybody is just in awe every time he steps into the box,” Rays catcher Mike Zunino said.

Arozarena has hardly been a one-trick pony. For a young player, he has done a pretty good job of controlling the strike zone (although he doesn’t walk much). Five of his seven postseason home runs have come on fastballs, a testament to his bat speed, but he also has hit one off a slider and one off a curveball. Three came with two strikes. Four have gone to right-center and one to right, so he has displayed power to all fields. For what it’s worth, both Murphy and Upton went homerless in the World Series. (Beltran’s Astros failed to get there.)

Arozarena is the surprise, but here are five others who will play key roles:

Mookie Betts: With spectacular catches in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the NLCS, he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest defensive right fielders of all time. In fact, as good as the Dodgers are on offense, and as deep as the pitching staff is, their defense raises them to another level. They ranked second in the majors in defensive runs saved at plus-29 — and the Rays were fifth at plus-24. We should see plenty of great defense in this series.

Cody Bellinger: The 2019 NL MVP has struggled in the postseason in his career, but maybe his game-winning home run in Game 7 will spur him on to a big series. He is hitting .196 in 48 career playoff games but .250/.365/.545 this postseason.

Kenley Jansen: The longtime Dodgers closer was pretty solid in the regular season, but after a shaky appearance against the Padres in which his velocity was way down, manager Dave Roberts said Jansen was no longer an automatic call for the ninth inning. Indeed, he got demoted to mop-up duty in the 15-3 drubbing of Atlanta in Game 3 of the NLCS. But he was much sharper in Games 5 and 6, with two straight 1-2-3 appearances — although Roberts stuck with Julio Urias for the final three innings of Game 7. At some point, Jansen will likely have to close out a closer Dodgers lead.

Tyler Glasnow: He is going to get the ball in Game 1 for the Rays and is capable of dominating with his upper 90s heater and wipeout curveball. He does give up some home runs (six in 19⅓ innings in the postseason) and, oh, the Dodgers led the majors in home runs in the regular season and just tied a single-series playoff record with 16 homers.

Peter Fairbanks: Nick Anderson is the Rays’ most dominant reliever, but Cash has used him at any point in the game when a critical situation develops (and usually against the meat of the opponent’s order). So while Anderson has one save in the postseason and Diego Castillo has two, Fairbanks leads with three — after the rookie didn’t have one in the regular season. Fairbanks throws 100 mph with a funky over-the-top delivery, and the Rays picked him up last year from the Rangers after he had two Tommy John surgeries. Now he is closing out playoff games. Baseball is ridiculous.

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Mark Texeira and Tim Kurkjian weigh in on the 2020 World Series matchup between the Rays and Dodgers.

Don’t expect any pitchers’ duels: We might see some low-scoring games, but don’t look for games in which both starting pitchers go deep into the game. Of the 47 postseason games played before the World Series, only four times did both starters pitch at least six innings. Only twice did a starter go more than seven innings — Kershaw and Trevor Bauer, both in the wild-card round when they were spinning shutouts.

The Rays, in particular, have a short leash with their starters. In their 14 games, Glasnow’s two six-inning outings were the longest. Only Blake Snell, with a 105-pitch, five-inning effort in the ALCS, topped 100 pitches. Given the quality and depth of both bullpens, expect quick hooks, even if the starter has pitched five strong innings. In other words, it will be a different style of play than last year’s World Series, when seven of the 14 starters went at least six innings and half went 100-plus pitches, as well.

Mr. Clutch: Charlie Morton — the rare free-agent signing for the Rays when he agreed to a two-year, $30 million contract before the 2019 season (with a 2021 option) — was the winning pitcher in Tampa Bay’s Game 7 of the ALCS, making him the first pitcher with three Game 7 wins in major league history. Morton also was the winning pitcher in the 2017 ALCS with the Astros (five scoreless innings) and the 2017 World Series (one run in four innings of relief). Toss in the 5⅔ scoreless innings against the Astros and that’s a 0.46 ERA in his Game 7 appearances. Guess how the Tampa Bay rotation likely lines up:

Game 1: Glasnow
Game 2: Snell
Game 3: Morton
Game 4: Ryan Yarbrough
Game 5: Glasnow
Game 6: Snell
Game 7: Morton

Morton finished third in the 2019 AL Cy Young voting, but Zunino said his Game 7 performance against the Astros was particularly noteworthy.

“This is the best I’ve seen Charlie in the time I’ve been able to catch him the past two years,” he said. “Had everything working, had a great mix. It was the game plan to keep a four-pitch mix. … The knowledge he brings with what he wants to accomplish. Seeing him do that on the biggest stage is a lot of fun.”

The Rays know if the series goes the distance they will have the right guy on the mound in Game 7.

Who do the Dodgers start? The Dodgers have five starting pitching options, with Kershaw lined up for Game 1. After that, it gets a little murky. Urias threw 39 pitches in Game 7 of the NLCS (on three days’ rest). Tony Gonsolin pitched two innings and 41 pitches. May actually started Games 5 and 7, throwing 55 and then 18 pitches. Walker Buehler started Game 6 on Saturday, so if he started Game 2 on Wednesday, it would be on short rest. It’s an intriguing decision. If the Dodgers start Buehler on short rest, they can then get him and Urias two starts apiece in the series, with a rotation like this:

Game 1: Kershaw
Game 2: Buehler (short rest)
Game 3: Urias
Game 4: May/Gonsolin
Game 5: Kershaw
Game 6: Buehler
Game 7: Urias

Roberts also could turn Game 2 into a May/Gonsolin bullpen game, start Buehler in Game 3 with five days’ rest, push Kershaw back to Game 6 for an extra two days’ rest and have Urias available in relief in Game 7 like he was in the NLCS, with a rotation like this:

Game 1: Kershaw
Game 2: May/Gonsolin/bullpen game
Game 3: Buehler
Game 4: Urias
Game 5: May/Gonsolin/bullpen game
Game 6: Kershaw
Game 7: Buehler

The ballpark: So, it’s hard to call Globe Life Field a pitchers’ park after the Dodgers and Braves just combined for 25 home runs in seven games, but it is a big park, especially to the power alley in right-center. It certainly played as a tough home run park in the regular season, so that could be a key element.

This is especially true for the Rays, who don’t have the offensive depth of the Dodgers and have relied so much on the home run so far in the playoffs — 71.9% of their runs have come via the long ball (compared to just 41% in the regular season). The Rays just don’t have a long-sequence offense, and they led the majors in strikeouts, so they need to win low-scoring games in which they hit home runs. If the park takes some of that power away, it could be a short series.

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