Jose Altuve has a flair for the dramatic as he sent his team back to the World Series by hitting a two-run walk-off homer on Saturday night in game six of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. There, they will be facing off against the Washington Nationals, who against all odds are making their first-ever World Series appearance. Washington started off the season 19-31 before finishing the season on a 74-38 run to secure a Wild Card spot. Then Washington put on a clinic as they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Saint Louis Cardinals just to get to this moment.
Now all eyes will be on the glorious pitching matchups and high profile stars from both teams. Washington is fighting for their first-ever World Series title, while Houston is attempting to create a dynasty. Here is this year’s World Series preview.
Game 1 Location: Houston
Time: 8:08 ET
Washington and Houston have two of the best pitching staffs in baseball, and the first three games will show why. Game 1 will be Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole. Game 2 will have Stephen Strasburg vs. Justin Verlander. Game 3 sees Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke face off. Anibal Sanchez will pitch Game 4 for Washington while Houston will either counter with a bullpen game or a starter on short rest.
In the regular season, Washington and Houston’s rotations finished with the second and third-best ERA respectively. Washington’s rotation had a 3.53 ERA while Houston had a 3.61. So far in the playoffs, Washington’s rotation has a 2.04 ERA while Houston has a 3.16.
Cole who starts game one for Houston has been the star of the playoffs. In three starts, he is 3-0 with a .40 ERA and 32 strikeouts. In fact, his team has won the last 16 games he has started. Whoever has to go to their bullpen first will be at a huge disadvantage.
Houston’s lineup is deep as it is lead by Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and George Springer. The Astros offense ranked first in the American League in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and OPS. They ranked third in runs scored, RBIs, home runs and hits.
Washington’s offense has come alive as it is lead by Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and Howie Kendrick. The Nationals offense ranked towards the top in the National League. They were second in runs scored, third in hits, sixth in home runs, third in RBIs, second in batting average, first in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage and second in OPS.
Both offenses are going to put on a show and will be highlighted by the MVP candidate third baseman in Anthony Rendon for Washington, and Alex Bregman for Houston. This season Rendon hit .319, with 34 homers, 126 RBIs, and had an OPS of 1.010. Bregman hit .296, with 41 homers, 112 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.015. Both are elite defenders as well.
Washington is at a disadvantage when it comes to their bullpen. They only have three trusted relievers in Tanner Rainey, Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle. In the regular season, the Nationals bullpen ranked dead last in ERA with a 5.66. Despite that, Washington was able to use their starters in relief instead of having to rely on the bullpen. Hudson, Rainey and Doolittle have been lights out when called upon and have been able to get themselves out of jams.
The Astros, on the other hand, finished third in ERA at 3.75 and is led by closer Roberto Osuna (2.63 ERA, 38 saves). Osuna led the AL in saves this season but faltered at the end of game six against the Yankees. He gave up a tying two-run homer to DJ Lemahieu in the top of the ninth. Besides that, he has only given up one other run and has struck out eight in seven and 2/3 innings. Houston has a deep bullpen that can throw at Washington for matchups.
If Houston can force Washington to go to their bullpen early, then they have a shot to win.
Feature Image From AJC.com.