While the Astros are without Lance McCullers Jr., the Braves would have still had the upper-hand in rotation matchups.
While it’s tempting to go with recency bias and say Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia have figured it out based on their starts in Games 5 and 6 of the ALCS, the advantage here still goes to the Braves. Their starters have just been more consistent and are lead by a face Astros fans are familiar with.
Charlie Morton will take the bump in Game 1 against Framber Valdez, and this will be the toughest pitching matchup the Astros have faced all postseason. Unlike the White Sox starters, who were talented but inexperienced, Morton has been here before.
Besides the experience, his pitch repertoire will be especially difficult for lefties, as Morton can bury his curveballs in on Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker.
Even if the Astros get great performances from Valdez and Garcia, there are big question marks surrounding preceding games with Jose Urquidy and Jake Odorizzi as the presumptive starters. Both pitchers have only made one postseason appearance each this year.
Given the circumstances, Odorizzi actually did a very nice job in Game 2 of the ALCS. Despite rushing his warm-up time routine and giving up a grand slam in his first inning of work, Odorizzi then went on to throw three scoreless-innings. More importantly, he saved the Astros from burning higher-leverage bullpen arms in a blowout by throwing 82 pitches.
Urquidy is the main question mark. Will he make adjustments as Valdez and Garcia did and come out throwing well in Game 3? Or will we get the Urquidy of the ALCS, who gave up six runs (five earned) in 1.2 innings pitched?
His opponent will likely be Ian Anderson, who he hasn’t gone deep this postseason but is still a solid starter who is more than capable of going six.
The Braves’ starting rotation has just a tad more consistency and depth. If you look at their rotation’s numbers side-by-side with the Astros, it’s really not a contest.
Braves: 44 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .228 BAA, 48 strikeouts to 14 walks
Astros: 38 IP, 5.92 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, .264 BAA, 35 strikeouts to 20 walks
All that said, those previous numbers don’t matter if the Astros get the Valdez and Garcia of Game 5 and 6. But even then, the question will be how much can the Astros put up against Max Fried and Charlie Morton, who were both fifth and seventh in quality starts with 21 and 20 (respectively) in all of MLB.
By comparison, the Astros’ leaders in quality starts were Lance McCullers Jr. and Zack Greinke at 16 and 15, respectively. And as Astros fans know, Greinke is only available for two innings max and McCullers is not available for the World Series entirely.
Since the Braves rotation has shown more consistency throughout the post season plus the experience of Charlie Morton at the head of it, they get the slight edge in this department.