It didn’t always look like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays would make it to the 2020 World Series, but it’s only fitting that the two teams will compete for the championship at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Throughout the regular season, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay were MLB’s top teams. The Dodgers finished atop the overall standings with a 43-17 record. The Rays were second in baseball and first in the American League with 40 wins in the truncated 60-game schedule.

An expanded 16-team field in the playoffs didn’t stop the No.1 seeds, though it certainly made the road to the Fall Classic more difficult. Both teams were pushed to the brink of elimination in the championship series.

After sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres, LA was forced to come back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. The Dodgers beat the Braves by one run in Game 7 to clinch the National League pennant. Mookie Betts robbed Freddie Freeman of a home run in the fifth inning, and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the seventh.

Tampa Bay squeaked by the New York Yankees in the ALDS, winning a deciding Game 5 on the strength of a go-ahead home run by Mike Brosseau in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Rays nearly became the second team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 series lead, holding off the Houston Astros with a 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the ALCS.

The World Series starts Tuesday on a neutral field, due to COVID-19 concerns. Los Angeles is the betting favorite, given -200 odds to win the series by DraftKing Sportsbook. The Rays are +160 underdogs.

There is plenty in Tampa Bay’s favor for this best-of-seven series. Because they clinched Saturday, the Rays have an extra day of rest. Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell should be ready to start the series on their normal rest.

The Rays might have the top starter and the top hitter this postseason. Charlie Morton is 3-0 with a 0.57 ERA in three starts. Morton is on track to start Game 3 and Game 7, and the veteran has been historically great in elimination games.

Randy Arozarena leads all hitters with seven home runs in the 2020 playoffs. The rookie’s .382 batting average and .855 slugging percentage are the best among players who reached the championship series.

Arozarena has provided a much-needed boost to a Tampa Bay offense that was sixth in runs scored in the AL. The Rays are hitting .209 in 14 playoff game games.

Arozarena, Ji-Man Choi and Manuel Margot all have an OPS north of .950 this postseason. Mike Zunino has four home runs and a .771 OPS. No one else on the team has an OPS better than .689.

Five Dodgers’ starters have an OPS north of .850 in the playoffs, led by the red-hot Corey Seager. The shortstop hit five home runs in the NLCS and has 13 RBI in his last 10 games.

Cody Bellinger Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates the teams 4-3 victory against the Atlanta Braves in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Los Angeles leads the league in runs scored this postseason, just as it did over 60 games. The Dodgers’ bullpen was better than that of the Rays in the championship series, even though relief pitching is thought to be Tampa Bay’s strength.

Clayton Kershaw is on track to start Game 1. Los Angeles’ championship hopes might ultimately come down to whether or not the three-time Cy Young winner can avoid another disastrous World Series start. Kershaw’s long line of playoff disappointments includes a 5.40 ERA in the Fall Classic.

Kershaw surrendered four runs in a Game 4 NLCS loss, walking off the mound in what seemed likely to be his last start of the playoffs. The veteran was picked up by the No.1 staff in baseball as the Dodgers gave up just seven total runs in three straight victories over Atlanta.

Walker Buehler looked every bit like an ace in a must-win Game 6 of the NLCS, tossing six shutout innings to keep the Dodgers alive. Julio Urias closed out Game 7 with three perfect innings, bringing his 2020 playoff ERA to a minuscule 0.56.

The Dodgers can match the Rays’ pitching. Los Angeles has the better lineup. LA’s star-studded team has been baseball’s best all year, and it’s likely to continue for one final series.

Los Angeles came up short in both the 2017 and 2018 World Series. This Dodgers’ club is better than both of those teams.

The likes of Betts, Bellinger, Buehler and even Kershaw should finally put the Dodgers over the hump and bring the organization its first title in 32 years.

World Series Prediction: Los Angeles in six