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Astros vs Nationals: Keys to World Series Game Six

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros is taken out of the game against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros is taken out of the game against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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The Astros and Nationals are set to square off in Game Six of the World Series.

Get ready, baseball fans. The World Series could end tonight if the Astros are able to come away with a win. Conversely, the Nationals are looking to keep their season alive and live to see a Game Seven.

It’s yet another premier pitching match-up with Justin Verlander going up against Stephen Strasburg in a rematch of Game Two. There’s plenty of intrigue, and any number of factors can determine the outcome of this game. Here’s a few to watch for that could play big roles.

Verlander’s First Inning

There’s been plenty of talk about Verlander still looking for his first World Series win. What could determine if he gets it will be how he does in the first inning of Game Six. He’s allowed a total of 14 runs in his last four starts, and nine of those came in the first inning.

It’s not generally been a problem with his stuff, but rather his command. If Verlander can keep himself from getting too amped up and hit his spots early on, it could set the tone for a vintage Verlander performance, which is just what the Astros need.

Distance for Strasburg

As we’ve seen throughout this World Series, the Nationals bullpen is a mess. Sean Doolittle is about the only reliever Dave Martinez can trust, so of course he’s going to want to get as many innings out of Strasburg as possible.

For the Astros, if they can run up his pitch count like they did to Max Scherzer in Game One, that should give them opportunities against the leaky Washington bullpen. If Strasburg is done at or before six innings, it’s good for the Astros; if he goes longer than six innings, the advantage moves toward the Nationals.

Turner and Rendon

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The Nationals offense isn’t as deep as Houston’s, so it’s imperative that their big bats play a key role. Two that were notably missing for most of the three games in Washington are Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon.

Turner is hitting just .136 with a .344 OPS in the World Series, while NL MVP contender Rendon is at a .200 average and .573 OPS. Adam Eaton and Juan Soto have proven to be tough outs, so that will likely continue. For the Nationals offense to break through, their leadoff and No. 3 hitters need to make a difference.

Springer and Bregman

The Astros had difficulty scoring runs throughout the playoffs, at least until they got to Washington. For the lineup to continue its run of good play, leadoff hitter George Springer sets the tone. He struggled in the first two rounds but is up to a .316/.480/.737 line in the World Series. As goes Springer, as goes the Astros lineup.

Alex Bregman has had a pair of homers in this series, including a grand slam in Game Four. However, he’s still hitting only .182/.217/.455 in the World Series with just one walk and four strikeouts. He’s chasing pitches out of the zone far more often than he normally does. Guys around him have generally hit well, so if he can snap out of his funk, the Astros will be tough to beat.

Who Comes Up Clutch?

It’s entirely possible there will be one or two players who define this game. Maybe it’s one of the starting pitchers tossing a gem, or a reliever such as Will Harris getting key outs. Maybe it’s a hitter stepping up with a decisive home run, as we’ve seen several do this postseason.

The only thing we know is that it will be hard to predict. Anyone on that field is capable of turning the game around, and we’ve seen plenty of unlikely heroes in Octobers past. This is the game’s biggest stage and the glory is there for the taking.

Next. Verlander seeking first World Series win in Game 6. dark

First pitch for tonight’s Game Six is slated for 7:07 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on Fox.

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