Can the underdog Nats take down the juggernaut ‘Stros in a best of seven?
This year’s World Series matchup features two teams with incredibly diverse expectations entering October. The Washington Nationals, who have never been to the World Series in their 53-year history, square off against the pre-playoff favorite Houston Astros. The question now becomes: Can the Astros live up to their World Series expectations? Or, will it be the Nationals that shock the world once again? Let’s dive in.
The Houston Astros continued to rely on their starting pitching in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander did their part to win the series. The Astros haven’t received much help from any other starters though. Zach Greinke has struggled, and if he can’t figure things out, his starts could swing the series. The Astros have probably the two best pitchers in the game, but this is baseball, and every mistake will prove costly in this series.
Going into the postseason, the Nationals were the only team with a starting rotation that was comparable to the Astros. That has only been reinforced during their playoff run. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have been magnificent, and will now be fully rested after their four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. Patrick Corbin could make a huge impact in this series, seeing that he will most likely face Greinke in game three and possibly game seven. Corbin looked great in his NLCS game four start, striking out 12 Cardinals. Not to mention, Anibal Sanchez threw 7.2 no-hit innings in game one of the NLCS and he will most likely face an Astros bullpen arm in game four.
The Nationals lineup has been great so far this postseason. Anthony Rendon continues to lead this team while others follow. Howie Kendrick is also crucial, after being awarded the NLCS MVP award and driving in five runs against the Cardinals. Everyone from top to bottom is producing in this lineup from Michael A. Taylor to Adam Eaton. Make no mistake, this Nats offense can compete with the likes of the Astros offense.
However, the Astros have star-caliber talent up and down the lineup. Springer, Brantley, Altuve, Bregman, Correa, Alvarez, Gurriel – the list truly goes on and on. Not only have they been here before, but they have firepower everywhere you look. The Astros offense has been arguably even more clutch this October, which adds to the suspense.
It’s all about Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson for this Nationals bullpen. In order for the Nats to feel good about their chances, their starters need to get through the first seven innings each game.
The Astros bullpen has proven its depth this October. It’s clear they have the advantage in this category because of that depth. Closer Roberto Osuna is solid at the back-end but did allow a two-run home run to tie a game in the ALCS. This might hurt his confidence.
Final Prediction: The Houston Astros defeat the Washington Nationals in seven games to win the 2019 World Series.
MVP: Alex Bregman
I’ve gone back-and-forth on this prediction. It’s tough to say what will happen in the game of baseball, especially because these two teams are so similar. Each team has reached the World Series because of strong starting pitching, a solid back-end bullpen, and clutch hitting. Alex Bregman will come up clutch when the Astros need it most and deliver Houston its second world series in the last three seasons. The Nats could win this series but the Astros have the superior all-around talent combined with past World Series experience which makes it tough to bet against them.