The World Series opens tonight with the Astros and Nationals bringing out their gunslingers, Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer, in what should be quite a battle.
This is it. Game 1 of the World Series is just hours away. It’s what the Astros and Nationals have been working towards all year. What these players dreamed about when they were Little Leaguers. It all culminates to this, a seven-game series that will crown one team as the World Champions.
These two teams will be battling it out tonight to get that all-important Game 1 victory under their belt. Then why not kick it off with two pitchers that are arguably the best in their respective leagues. Gerrit Cole will be throwing out that first pitch at 7:08 CT, and from that point on it’s going to be a pitch-for-pitch duel between Cole and Scherzer.
Gerrit Cole has had a phenomenal year that just seemed to get better and better as the season progressed. He led the league in ERA (2.50), Ks (326), SO/9IP (13.8), and ERA+ (185) and he hasn’t lost a game since May 22nd. And if that doesn’t worry the Nationals, they should look at what he’s done this postseason.
In three games, two in the ALDS and one in the ALCS, he has surrendered just one run in 22.2 innings of work for an ERA of 0.40. His opponents have been kept to a meager .132 BA and have been the victim of his strikeout prowess 32 times. His success doesn’t just include this year, as he is sporting a career 2.26 ERA in his eight career postseason games.
Cole has faced the Nationals six times in his career with a record of 3-2 and a 2.92 ERA. Anthony Rendon is really the only Washington player with any real success against Cole with a .385 BA in 13 at-bats. All other players that have faced him with double-digit ABs are batting .235 or lower.
The Astros don’t have a much easier task going up against Scherzer. He ended the regular season with a record of 11-7 and an ERA of 2.92. Like Cole, he led the league with the highest strikeout per nine innings ratio at 12.7.
Scherzer has also had a great postseason winning two of his three starts and even getting a hold in a relief appearance in game 2 of the ALDS. He has given up 4 runs in 20 innings of work for a 1.80 ERA. But three of those four runs were in the wild card game against the Brewers. In the three games since, he has stifled his opponents allowing just one run for an ERA of 0.80.
Houston has had better success against Scherzer than the Nationals have seen versus Cole. Michael Brantley has quite a bit of experience facing Scherzer and has fared very well batting .341 in 44 at-bats. Josh Reddick has 11 ABs against him with a .455 BA. The only other player with much experience with Scherzer is Jose Altuve and he has struggled mightily against him with a .182 average.
This all shakes out to be an epic pitchers’ duel. But you never know what can happen in the postseason and that’s why these games have to be played out on the field. I really feel that Cole has the upper hand here and if they can possibly cause an early exit for Scherzer, the odds go up even higher against their bullpen. I’m taking the Astros in Game 1 in front of a loud home crowd under a closed roof.