It’s a Wild Card battle with a title on the line, as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers are set to square off in the 2023 World Series. Game 1 is set for Friday, Sept. 27 from Globe Life Park in Arlington, with first pitch scheduled for 8:03 p.m. ET.
The Rangers enter as -170 favorites to win this series on the moneyline, with Arizona — surprise, surprise — once again the underdog at +145.
But, moneyline aside, the way both of these teams are playing right now gives this the look of an extended, exciting World Series. So let’s break it down from every angle, and give you a prediction for the 119th Fall Classic.
Diamondbacks vs. Rangers: World Series pick
It’s hard to blame the books for installing the D-backs as underdogs for what is now the fourth series in a row. Once again: This team won just 84 games during the regular season — which would be the second-worst of any World Series winner, should Arizona pull another upset — while allowing more runs than it scored. They don’t have a fourth starter, and their lineup lacks both oomph (especially with Christian Walker mired in a miserable slump) and depth. These holes remain real, despite their recent hot streak.
Of course, they’ve gotten to this point for a reason. Brandon Pfaadt is now pitching as well as anyone, giving them a third reliable option behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Their bullpen — particularly the top four of Ryan Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald — has been very solid. Arizona isn’t elite in any one particular facet, but their pitching has been good enough to keep things tight, allowing a smart, athletic, aggressive group of players to keep the pressure on and wait for the other team to crack. And, without fail so far this postseason, the other team has.
Will Texas? It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the Rangers’ consecutive shellings of the Astros on their home field in Games 6 and 7, but don’t forget about the reason Texas had to win two elimination games in a row: This is still a beatable and not particularly deep pitching staff, one that starts to look pretty vulnerable if its bats go quiet. Gallen, Kelly, Pfaadt and that bullpen just got done silencing a homer-happy and seemingly superior offense; they can’t do it again in the World Series, especially against a team whose pitching isn’t nearly as fearsome as the Phillies’? It’s not hard to imagine Arizona running back that same playbook, dragging Texas into the small-ball muck and getting to a vulnerable bullpen late.
And yet ... I just can’t quite pull the trigger for the Snakes here. This offense gives Arizona a very small margin for error — allow a crooked number or two, and things start to snowball. They managed to avoid said crooked number after Games 1 and 2 against Philly, but I’m skeptical that they’ll be able to do so again, four times out of seven, against an offense that might be even deeper. Gallen has not pitched particularly well in this postseason, and while Texas’ rotation depth isn’t great, they at least have some viable bodies to start Game 4, where as the D-backs will have to try and survive a full bullpen game. It worked in the NLCS, but things looked awfully grim before an improbable eighth-inning rally.
In the end, I trust Montgomery and Eovaldi against Arizona’s lineup more than I trust Gallen and Kelly against Texas’ — a group that’s much more patient overall then Philly, who started pressing as that series went on. there are just too many coin flips that went right for Arizona, and the Rangers have more paths to winning here.
Prediction: Rangers in 7