How World Series is Different Without Kansas City Royals
The other obvious difference is the bullpen performances. The Kansas City Royals won two pennants and a world championship, because they had the best bullpen in baseball. That is not debatable. The team didn’t have the best rotation, but during the playoffs they only needed to get through six innings. That’s all that was asked of them.
Most of the time, they came through. It allowed Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland to shut things down in 2014. The following year, Herrera, Ryan Madson and Davis made up the three-headed monster. Both teams had other solid options for extra-inning games, including Jason Frasor (2014) and Luke Hochevar (2015).
Over those two World Series, the Kansas City Royals never lost a game they led after five innings. Conversely, the team won four games in which they were tied or trailing at some point after five innings. That’s a huge impact.
Contrary to the home runs, which clearly don’t prevent a team from winning the World Series, a shoddy bullpen can keep a superior team from winning the title. The loser of this series might experience that realization.
For the Dodgers, Kenley Jansen‘s performance this year is eerily similar to Jeurys Familia‘s in 2015. Both were dominant closers during their respective seasons, which is why I picked Jansen for MVP, but they couldn’t finish the job when it matters most. Houston’s biggest worry with their 3-2 series lead is what happens when their starter exits the game. Ken Giles has had a nightmare World Series, leaving the Astros with a closer-by-committee approach at the worst possible time.