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The 2020 World Series matchup could be set by Saturday.
If that occurs, the Fall Classic would have a first-time matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves.
Tampa has not advanced to the World Series since its 2008 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies, while the Braves are one win away from making their first appearance since 1999.
The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are capable of springing comebacks in their respective League Championship Series. Houston remained alive with two straight ALCS victories in Games 4 and 5.
The unlikelihood of Houston and Los Angeles advancing to the World Series is reflected in the odds to win the championship. At the moment, Atlanta holds the slight edge over Tampa Bay, according to DraftKings.
World Series Dates
Game 1: Tuesday, October 20
Game 2: Wednesday, October 21
Game 3: Friday, October 23
Game 4: Saturday, October 24
*Game 5: Sunday, October 25
*Game 6: Tuesday, October 27
*Game 7: Wednesday, October 28
* if necessary. All times TBD; all games to air on Fox.
Odds (via DraftKings Sportsbook)
To Win World Series
Atlanta (+135; bet $100 to win $135)
Tampa Bay (+160)
Los Angeles Dodgers (+500)
Available tickets for the World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, can be found on StubHub.
Atlanta over Tampa Bay
Atlanta has proved it could beat any pitching staff throughout its postseason run.
The Braves outscored the Cincinnati Reds 6-0 in the Wild Card Round. Five of those scores came off the Reds bullpen. In the NLDS, the NL East champion reeled off 18 runs on 26 hits and hit five long balls in a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins.
Through four NLCS games, the Dodgers have more questions about their pitching staff than prior to the series.
Los Angeles conceded 24 earned runs to the Atlanta offense, including 10 in Thursday’s Game 4 at Globe Life Field.
The Braves got four of their runs off Clayton Kershaw before taking six off the Dodgers bullpen. Eleven of the 15 pitchers used by Los Angeles conceded at least one earned run.
If Atlanta carries over that same production into Friday’s NLCS Game 5 and eventually the World Series, it could cause trouble to the Rays trio of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow.
Tampa Bay has not been as dynamic at the plate as Atlanta. It produced 17 runs in five ALCS contests, while the Braves had 13 just in the first two NLCS games.
If the Rays pitchers fail to contain Atlanta’s offense, they may be forced to win high-scoring games, which has not been in their DNA this season.
If Atlanta continues to score at a high rate and performs well against some of the best pitchers Tampa Bay has to offer, it could come away with the World Series crown.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.