There are a few factors that I look at when I evaluate the World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, starting with the obvious, rotation, lineup, bullpen. Then there are certain X-factors that are beyond talent on the roster.
RHP Gerrit Cole (3-0, 0.40 ERA, 22.2 IP, 32 K)
RHP Justin Verlander (1-2, 3.70 ERA, 24.1 IP, 29 K)
RHP Zack Greinke (0-2, 6.43 ERA, 14.0 IP, 16 K)
RHP Max Scherzer (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 20.0 IP, 27 K)
RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-0, 1.64 ERA, 22.0 IP, 33 K, 1 BB)
LHP Patrick Corbin (1-2, 7.43 ERA, 13.1 IP, 26 K)
RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 0.71 ERA, 12.2 IP, 14 K)
If you’re a fan of great pitching you’ve come to the right series. Gerrit Cole is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now and Scherzer and Strasburg are peaking in postseason form. This is a tough one to evaluate, but taking a look at each team’s rotation as a whole, the Nationals has outperformed the Astros ever-so-slightly. Everyone knows that the guys at the top are going to dominate and do what they do, but what is the difference maker here is the depth that the Nationals have, getting quality innings out of Corbin and Sanchez.
CF George Springer
2B Jose Altuve
LF Michael Brantly
3B Alex Bregman
1B Yuli Gurriel
SS Carlos Correa
DH Yordan Alvarez
C Robinson Chirinos/Martin Maldonado
RF Josh Reddick
SS Trea Turner
RF Adam Eaton
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
2B Howie Kendrick
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Kurt Suzuki/Yan Gomes
CF Victor Robles/Michael A. Taylor
Evaluating these two lineups and comparing them is difficult. Looking at them on paper, you would say the Astros’ is far superior and it really isn’t that close. But, their offense has been spotty this postseason, and they have struggled to manufacture runs. Meanwhile, the Nationals offense seems to be clicking right now, and it’s not as if they are without talent themselves. Batting third for them is the most-likely NL MVP winner. However, we all know what the Astros offense can be, and I’m relying on them to go back to their old ways.
LRP Jose Urquidy
LRP Wade Miley, Brad Peacock
MRP Will Harris
MRP Joe Smith
SU Josh James
CL Roberto Osuna
SU Daniel Hudson
SU Tanner Rainey
SU Fernando Rodney
SU Hunter Strickland
CL Sean Doolittle
Taking a look at both these bullpens, the Astros have far more options than the Nationals. But, this is a credit to how good the Nationals rotation has been and how little they’ve had to use their relievers. Doolittle appears to be back to his regular form, but there’s not much else that stands out from the Nats pen. For the Astros, there has been a few guys that AJ Hinch knows he can rely on to get outs in big situations. Urquidy is a guy that might get a lot of work in Game 4 if the Astros use a bullpen day. James and Osuna are guys that have been trusted on the back end of games.
This one should be pretty obvious. The Astros are a well-oiled machine, can’t deny that. They’ve been here, and won it. They know what it’s like to play in these big moments and how to reserve the nerves that you feel throughout the process. That being said, the Nationals have a couple of guys with some veteran experience as well. They haven’t been here before, but they’ll know how to lead the young guys into battle.
I like to call this x-factor the fire factor because it’s all about who is HOT right now, and the Washington Nationals are H-O-T HOT. My hope is that having to sit around for a few days waiting for the winner of the ALCS didn’t throw off their timing. I say it all the time, but winning a World Series is not about having the most talent, it’s about peaking at the right time going into the playoffs. Safe to say the Nationals have been on fire.