One word can describe the 2019 World Series: pitching. With a handful of top tier starters in this World Series, expect to see some old school baseball with runs coming at a premium. While the Nationals surprised plenty of people by getting to the World Series as the National League Wild Card winner, their play in the postseason has shown just how much they deserve it and dominant they can be. While many expected the 107-win Astros to get to the World Series due to their starting pitching, the team beat the Yankees in six games in the ALCS due in large part to clutch hitting and defense.
How to watch:
When: Tuesday, Oct. 22
Where: Minute Maid Park Houston, Tex.
Time: 8:08 p.m. EDT
TV channel: FOX
Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
While pitching once defined MLB, offense has dominated as of late, especially home runs. With the competing duos of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals and Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole for the Astros, it’s hard to pick which team has an advantage. However, Nats starter Patrick Corbin and Astros Zack Greinke, who have dominated in their own right this season, makes this World Series unlike any in recent memory.
Cole, the Game 1 starter, has been near-unhittable this postseason, with a 0.40 ERA and 32 strikeouts in his three starts. His 358 strikeouts entering the World Series are the most by anyone in a single year since Randy Johnson in 2001 (419). Verlander has had a more up-and-down postseason with a pair of strong outings, but also a pair of losses, and a 3.70 ERA.
While the Nationals took longer to announce the order of their starting rotation, Scherzer will start Game 1. He is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and coming off back-to-back excellent outings, allowing a combined one run on five hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings. He has made one World Series appearance. Meanwhile, Strasburg is making his first World Series appearance. He’s 3-0 this postseason, allowing a total of four runs and tallying double-digit strikeouts twice, which includes Game 3 of the NLCS vs. St Louis when he struck out 12 batters over seven innings.
While pitching may be the big story surrounding the series, plenty of other players will make the series unforgettable. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon are MVP candidates. Don’t forget about Jose Altuve. The Astros second baseman sent the Astros to the World Series with a walk-off two run home run in Game 6. Altuve sets the table for the Astros and is also hitting .349/.417/.767 with five home runs this month. Also, don’t forget about Juan Soto, the 20-year-old who got the game-winning hit in the NL Wild Card Game and Howard Kendrick, who hit a grand slam in the NLCS vs. Dodgers and was named the MVP after posting a 1.012 OPS.