The narrative everybody will be discussing when the Astros and Nationals take the field on Tuesday night will be starting pitching, and rightly so. This is a match-up featuring six of the top 16 ERAs in all of baseball, not to mention half of the league’s Top 10 strikeout pitchers as well. So with starting pitching being nearly a wash (0.08 ERA difference among starters for the season), the Astros will have to win this series with other aspects of the game.
The offenses are both very good contact teams that can draw a walk. However, the Astros are vastly superior at slugging the ball with a .031 higher isolated power. Overall the Astros are 22 percent better in wRC+ and 19 percent better in league adjusted offensive measure. Their ability to slug the ball in crucial spots will surely help put some crooked numbers on the board.
The overwhelming advantage for the Astros though is the bullpen. During the regular season the Astros had the second best bullpen, where the Nationals had the second worst. Their bullpen has been solidified though with the resurgence of the bionic arm in Daniel Hudson, Sean Doolittle returning to form, the elder statesman Fernando Rodney and the young flamethrower Tanner Rainey. But it is still a short pen that does not have a lot of experience in these situations.
Prediction: Astros in 6
I think the Astros will win in six games, all things considered. The only reason I do not think it is sooner is that the Astros struggles with RISP will bite them in a couple of games where they leave too many men stranded.
World Series MVP is a repeat for me: George Springer. His .637 slugging on fastballs this year is the reason why, coupled with George getting off to a hot start a game sooner than he did in 2017 due to Max Scherzer’s heavy use of his fastball and higher than league average zone and meatball rates.