Houston Astros: Know your World Series foe – Atlanta Braves

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Houston Astros
Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Here are 3 ways the Astros win the World Series.

Starters need to pitch like they did in Game 5 & 6 of the ALCS.

Easier said than done. But with no Lance McCullers Jr. in the World Series, the Astros really can’t afford to go deep in the bullpen, especially with the way Freeman, Albies and Rosario are playing. Those guys are just too good at hitting for a stressed-out bullpen to mow through.

Starting pitching is going to have to step up, especially early in the series.  Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia will need to pitch at a level like what they did ALCS Game 5 and 6.

They will also need Jose Urquidy to forget that disaster of a game he threw in back in Game 3. The more effective innings (hopefully 5+) those three can generate in these games, the better position the Houston bullpen will be in.

Also watch for how Baker and pitching coach Brent Strom deploy Cristian Javier, Zack Greinke & Jake Odorizzi. Who will get the ball in Game 4? Who ever it is could play a critical role in the outcome of this series.

The Astros need to crack Charlie Morton (…it pains me to write this).

The Astros are going to need to get after these starting pitchers. The Astros usually hit well against lefty pitchers, but Max Fried and Ian Anderson are pretty darn good lefties. So, I’d expect an even battle between those two pitchers and Astro hitters.

The one guy that the Astros absolutely need to crack – Charlie Morton. “Ground Chuck”, the guy that carried the Astros the last couple innings to their 2017 World Series, has aged like a box of fine wine as a starting pitcher in this league.

And, to be frank, he has dominated the Houston Astros in the postseason as of late.

In the 2019 ALDS Morton stifled the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field in 5 innings, striking out nine hitters – Perhaps the best I’ve ever seen Charlie Morton pitch.

Chuck followed that up last year with a dominating 2020 ALCS where he blanked the Astros both Game 2 and Game 7 and shut the door on their season out at Petco Park.

So here it is – Charlie Morton’s stats against the Astros in the playoffs: three starts, 15 innings,  ER, 20 SO and four walks. The Astros can’t afford to let him dominate again.

Morton is one of the best precision pitchers in baseball who generates tons of soft contact and lets his great defense get outs for him. If the Astros can avoid those one-pitch at-bats that end with a groundout and make Morton really work for his outs, they should eventually generate some runs – and most importantly get him out of the game sooner.

The Astros need to beat the Braves Lefty Bullpen crew.

The Braves lefty relieving crew of Will Smith, Tyler Matzek and AJ Minter are on a roll right now,  having thoroughly dominated the Dodgers hitters during the NLCS. How can Houston foil these red-hot southpaw Braves?

First of all, if Yordan Alvarez keeps hitting like he’s been doing, it may not matter. But let’s assume these power lefties can freeze up Alvarez, then what? If that’s the case, Houston will need the veteran right-handed bats positioned around Yordan Alvarez to come through with some big hits.

Carlos Correa, who’ll bat directly after Alvarez, has been hitting .290 this year against lefties. Alex Bregman, who’ll bat right before Alvarez, hits .306 against lefties and .297 against power pitchers.

Batting title winner Yuli Gurriel, hitting seventh after lefty and future MVP Kyle Tucker, has terrorized lefties all year with a .331 BA with a .950 OPS. If these veteran star righty-bats can come in and connect on some big hits against these hot pitchers, Snitker may not have too many other solutions to slow down this offense.

Next. Valdez gets Game 1, how does rest of rotation line out?. dark

This should be a terrific series to watch. If Houston hitters can avoid quick outs, get Morton and Fried out of the game as soon as possible, and wear out this confident lefty-dominant bullpen – this series might end with Baker hoisting his first World Series trophy as a manager.