The Fall Classic has finally arrived!
Finishing off the Yankees in the most dramatic fashion, the Astros are chasing their second World Series title in three years. The Astros, who boast a youthful lineup of powerful bats and a starting rotation destined for Cooperstown, came into the playoffs owning the best record in the American League. It’s no surprise that a team with their collective postseason experience is back in the World Series. It is, however, a surprise that this team seems the least weathered of all the postseason teams.
The Nationals, on the other hand, are bringing the World Series to D.C. for the first time since the 1930s. After creating a meme-like reputation of failing to get out of the first round, the Nats didn’t just stop at advancing to the NLCS. No, instead they swept the St. Louis Cardinals begins dominant pitching performances from their starting rotation, made up of equal parts veteran experience and a will for younger arms to prove their worth.
In a year where no one expected them to bounce back from the loss of their Star right fielder, the Nationals put themselves back on the map. If someone is winning the break-up, it’s Washington.
The first two world series games will be blockbuster marquee matchups from the jump, beginning with a Game 1 that’s headlined by two bonafide Aces.
Gerrit Cole, who Astros manager AJ Hinch smartly kept in the stable for Game 6 of the ALCS, will get the ball for the American League champs. This is Cole’s first career trip to the World Series, having spent the beginning of his career in Pittsburgh. Coming to Houston for a hefty price tag, Cole has been as elite as you can get this season for the Astros, which is why you’ll find his name tied to the majority of AL Cy Young predictions.
Cole has easily been the most dominant pitcher this postseason, putting up stifling numbers over his three starts. Over 22.2 innings pitched, Cole has only given up one earned run on 10 hits, striking out 32 on his way to a 1.64 ERA. If Cole can remain an automatic W machine on the mound, the Astros can count on two wins on their way to a second world series ring in the 2010s.
Facing off against Cole will be Max Scherzer, who seems to have his name attached to the Cy Young about as often as Mike Trout’s is to the AL MVP. Scherzer began this offseason by giving up three runs on four hits, including a two-run shot off the bat of Yasmani Grandal in the first inning, in the NL Wildcard Game.
Since then, Mad Max has found his rhythm, entering the World Series with a 1.80 ERA, a 0.850 WHIP and an 11.4 k/9.
If the Astros can’t find their bats this world series, a pitcher with pinpoint accuracy like Scherzer could be the cooler they’re dreading.
At the plate, the Astros will need to find an answer for the Nationals hottest hitters. Anthony Rendon is coming into Game 1 hitting .375, with 4 doubles and 7 RBIs. All season the Nationals third baseman has been proving his worth in a stellar contract year, and he’s somehow turned up the heat even more in October.
Also hotter than hell is veteran jack-of-all-trades is NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick. Kendrick, whose 10th inning Grand Slam put the Nats over the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS, is leading all postseasons hitters with 9 RBIs. If they can keep Kendrick hot, they’ll be able to keep the line moving through their dangerous lineup.
The most interesting thing about the Nationals this postseason, might be their lack of stolen bases. For a team with speed to spare, a team that lead the National League in stolen bases, it seems odd that they HAVE YET TO STEAL A BASE THIS POSTSEASON. Trea Turner had 35 steals this season, and he’s yet to swipe a bag. Perhaps the secret to getting to the Astros gang of Aces, is by running on them early and often in this world series.
Also, I want tacos and that’s how we all get tacos.
While Jose Altuve is doing his usual “I’m the most insane hitter of all-time” routine this offseason, the rest of the Houston lineup seems lost. Aside from Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel, the rest of the Astros roster is hitting below the Mendoza line. However, that hasn’t stopped them from relying on the occasional long ball.
Carlos Correa, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, is hitting a measly .171 this postseason, notching only seven hits. However, of those 7 hits, two of them left the ballpark and one of those moonshots won Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees.
The Astros lineup is one to be feared in the world series. They can beat you with their bats, and they can beat you with their plate discipline, but most importantly they can beat you by underestimating their potential.
So how will things shake out in tonight’s world series matchup?
I think we’re going to be watching two Louvre quality artists paint corners with masterful precision. With the Astros hoping their struggles at the plate slow down, it’s 100% possible they find their stride against the 2017 Cy Young winner. Then again, the quality of pitching they’ll face from the Washington starters is better than they’ve seen thus far in the postseason.
The Nationals need to find a way to rekindle the fire after waiting for their world series opponents to be named. Keeping their bats hot and their legs loose on the base paths could be the remedy for a bad case of “Can’t-Hit-Cole”.
Final Score: Washington 2, Houston 1.
This series is going to be full of tough, hard-nosed baseball. Buckle up, y’all. We have at least 4 games left in the 2019 season. SAVOR THE MOMENT. TAKE IT ALL IN.
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