World Series Game 2 Preview: Astros Verlander vs Nationals Strasburg

The Astros will look to bounce back in World Series Game Two as they send Justin Verlander to the mound against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg.

All is not lost, Astros fans. Yes, the formerly red-hot Gerrit Cole cooled off as the team fell in World Series Game One, but there’s a lot of baseball left to be played. Tonight’s game will be pivotal as the team sends Justin Verlander to the hill to face off against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg.

They’ll look to salvage a split against the Nationals before heading to Washington for the next three games. There’s plenty of intrigue in this match-up, as it features another pair of dominant pitchers who have the capacity to take over any game.

While he’s historically pitched well in the ALDS and ALCS, that’s not the case for Verlander in the World Series. In five career starts, he’s 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA. He was better with the Astros in 2017, however, posting a 3.75 ERA in his two starts. He’ll look to rebound from his last start in which he allowed four runs in the first inning.

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2009, Strasburg led the NL in wins and innings pitched this season, striking out 251 batters with a 3.32 ERA. For his postseason career, he’s 4-2 with a 1.10 ERA and 57 strikeouts against just five walks in 41 innings. He’s coming off an NLCS start in which he went seven scoreless innings, striking out 12.

Positives from Game One

Though the Astros only scored two runs off Max Scherzer, they were able to drive up his pitch count and get him out of the game after five innings. They’ll need to have a similar approach to Strasburg so they can feast on the soft underbelly of the Nationals bullpen.

The Astros already saw the two best relievers in Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle. They were able to get a run off Hudson, and both relievers threw more than one inning. If they can get Strasburg out after five or six innings, they should have better opportunities to score.

The World Series version of George Springer showed up, as he homered, doubled and drew two walks. Yordan Alvarez also snapped out of his ALCS funk with two hits and a walk. Continued success from those two will be huge.

Keys to the Game

For the Astros, there are two. They need to drive up Strasburg’s pitch count and get to the bullpen. They also need to do better with runners in scoring position. Their 3-for-12 mark in that category in Game One was actually much better than they’ve done for most of the playoffs, but they’ll need to continue to improve if they want to win this series.

For the Nationals, they’ll need to jump on Verlander early. The Yankees successfully did that in ALCS Game Six. Even though Verlander eventually settled in and was lights out the rest of the way, the damage had already been done. The Nationals will need to get to him before he starts cruising. They’ll also need length from Strasburg to prevent manager Dave Martinez from having to go to their leaky bullpen.

Next: Gerrit Cole not sharp in World Series loss

First pitch is slated for 7:07 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on FOX.

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