The 2019 edition of the World Series brings together the Houston Astros, a team that won 107 games and has so far lived up to their sky-high expectations, and the Washington Nationals, a team making their first World Series appearance after looking nothing like a contender during their 19-31 start. While it wasn’t expected for 2019, this is an interesting matchup that sees arguably the two best pitching rotations face off for supremacy, as reported by MLB.com.
The Astros boast Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke in their rotation while the Nationals are anchored by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, with every game likely to become an intriguing duel. The Nationals have yet to reveal who will be taking the mound for Game 1, but considering they have had almost a full week of rest, it would be expected that Scherzer will take the mound. Scherzer has lived up to his standards so far this postseason and has only improved as it has gone on, allowing a combined one run on five hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts in his last 14 innings. He is one of the few Nationals with World Series experience, having previously made it in 2012 while playing for the Detroit Tigers. In a Game 4 appearance against the San Francisco Giants, Scherzer gave up three runs while striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings in a 4-3 loss.
Gerrit Cole will be taking the mound for the Astros as he continues one of the greatest runs by a starting pitcher in baseball history. In Cole’s last 25 starts, he has had a record of 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP, and 258 strikeouts in 169 1/3 innings, with the Astros winning his last 16 starts. It’s hard to see Cole’s level drop off at this stage, but the Nationals are no strangers to defying the odds this postseason.
If Washington does score some runs on Cole, it will likely come from the bat of potential National League MVP Anthony Rendon. A native of Richmond, Texas, only 30 miles from Houston, the third baseman is currently on an eight-game hitting streak with a batting average of 0.462. He will be supported by NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick, who built on his grand slam that eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional round to go 5-for-15 with four doubles and four RBIs against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jose Altuve carried the Astros offensively in an ALCS that the majority of the lineup underwhelm, hitting 0.348 with two home runs including the one that sealed the Astros progression. Michael Brantley chipped in with a 0.304 batting average, but the rest of the formidable lineup was mostly silent, with Carlos Correa (4-for-22), Alex Bregman (3-for-18), Josh Reddick (2-for-12), George Springer (4-for-25), Yuli Gurriel (3-for-24), and Yordan Alvarez (1-for-22, 12 strikeouts) failing to make their mark against the Yankees.
Since the Nationals moved to Washington, they have had a 36-27 record against the Astros. The teams last met in 2017, when Washington took two out of three games when they visited the eventual World Series champions. In the last 16 meetings between the teams, the Astros have only won twice.