Here we are, Houston, at the brink of fulfilling the hashtag that was set forth to begin the season. Coming off what can only be called the best ALCS series in recent memory, the Astros have a rotation that is fully rested, a bullpen that is battle-tested and an offense that is still trying to find its legs. Let’s dive into the match up and see how sneaky good this World Series will be.
Catcher – Winner: Astros, by fractions
At one point, the Astros would have claimed the catching position a massive weakness. However, in recent games, it has been one of the bright spots due in large to the ability to call games and gun down runners.
The Nationals get their main backstop back in Kurt Suzuki. His offensive output is a major plus in favor of the Nationals, however his ability to limit runners on the basepaths is a negative, only throwing out five runners in 50 attempts over the course of the season. Look for the Astros to add either Myles Straw to the fold, or give George Springer, Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick the green light if they get on base. This could be a changing point of this series.
First Base – Winner: Nationals – Zimmerman/Kendrick
The Nationals have a rotation of Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman at first. Yuli Gurriel has been holding down first since the beginning of the season for the Astros. Coming off an ALCS where he went 2-23, Gurriel propelled the Astros scoring in the top of the 1st in game 6. Hopefully this is a boost to his offensive production and the Astros get July-August Yuli back.
On the flip side, Zimmerman has had a very solid postseason acquiring a .280 average. His lone home run came in a dagger game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kendrick has also had a postseason to remember and was the MVP of the NLCS. Nationals hold the edge.
Second Base – Winner: Astros – Altuve
What else can be said about the face of the Astros franchise? His postseason numbers are out of this world. He leads MLB currently with five home runs in the post season. His walk-off hit to put away the Yankees will go down as single best moment in Astros history, baring maybe Uncle Charlie Morton coming in and shutting down the Dodgers for the Astros first World Series win. This is an easy prediction. Altuve wins, and there’s no one who could dethrone him.
3rd Base – Push
Alex Bregman is slumping just a little and the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon has been nothing but consistent this postseason. Look for Rendon to bear the RBIs for the Nationals this series. A la D.J. LeMahieu, Rendon has a knack for just finding hits.
Bregman has had an MVP caliber season, so it would be foolish to write him off for this series. Look for Bregman to find his swing again and propel the Astros to at least one win.
Shortstop – Winner: Astros – Correa
While his bat has been a little off kilter, his arm strength definitely hasn’t. If a ball is hit to Correa, 10 out of 10 times the runner will be out at first. With the ability to change the game’s momentum with one throw, look for Correa to nail the Nationals speedsters as they bust down the line.
Speaking of speedsters, Correa’s counterpart Trea Turner will be a terror on the basepaths for the Astros. His speed could help the Nationals out in the long run.
Outfield – Winner: Astros
Michael Brantley has shown he still has it to make Gold Glove caliber catches. Springer holds the club record for post season home runs, and Reddick is a web-gem highlight reel.
Juan Soto is a massive presence for the Nationals, Victor Robles’ speed will be an issue and Adam Eaton can still slug with the best of them. However, the Astros just put down the likes of Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks with no problem. The Nationals defense in the outfield will be tested and Robles will be the key to track down all the deep balls shot into the outfield.
Rotation – Push
The main storyline will be the starting pitching for the World Series. This is baseball at its finest. Any of the top three pitchers can be interchanged as who has the upper hand. Max Scherzer will most definitely be a problem, but the Astros will match him with Gerrit Cole. Stephen Strasburg, meet Justin Verlander. Against Patrick Corbin, there’s Zack Greinke.
This is by far the most intriguing part of this series. We will see chess match after chess match. If I had to absolutely make a prediction, the Astros win out in this category, however it’s not that easy.
Bullpen – Winner: Astros
Another “weak spot” for the Astros, the bullpen single-handedly came in and did what they needed to do. Roberto Osuna will struggle here and there, however against the Nationals, he will regain his form. Jose Urquidy and Brad Peacock are major weapons that can come in and overtake the Nationals. If Ryan Pressly misses time, look to Bryan Abreu lock down the 7th inning spot.
The Nationals, however, do have some good parts. Namely the 1-2-3 punch of Roenis Elias, Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle. However, the Astros have won walk-offs off much bigger names than Doolittle.
Prediction: Astros in 5
I’ve said it once before, if the Astros win Game One, I have a strong feeling they sweep the series, especially if the Nationals throw Scherzer. However, I feel like the Astros go up 3-0 and the Nationals get desperate and steal one game away from the Astros. They will bring in Scherzer from the pen in Game Four, thus leaving them vulnerable in Game Five.