After the Washington Nationals pulled off something that was starting to seem impossible in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, handing the Houston Astros’ Gerrit Cole a loss, the pressure is now on Houston to level the series in Game 2 before heading to Washington.
According to MLB.com, of the 25 World Series in the 2-3-2 format that has seen a team lose the first two games, only three have ever come back to win the series. The last such occurrence was in 1996, which saw the New York Yankees defeat the Atlanta Braves in six games.
The Astros couldn’t have a better pitcher to depend on in Game 2 with Justin Verlander taking the mound. The Cy Young candidate faces off against the Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg, providing the opportunity for another classic matchup for pitching enthusiasts. Verlander is no stranger to high-pressure pitching situations, having been in the exact same situation in the American League Championship Series when the Astros dropped Game 1 at home to the Yankees.
Verlander has had an up and down postseason thus far, going 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA. In his three appearances since pitching seven innings without allowing a run in Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Verlander is 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA. He has alternated solid and sloppy appearances thus far, and after allowing four runs in the first inning in Game 5 of the ALCS, albeit before then retiring 21 of the next 22 Yankees he faced, Verlander could be due for a dominating appearance.
Strasburg stood out as the best pitcher in the Nationals’ rotation this postseason, not an easy task for one of the best pitching rotations in the league. In his last appearance, Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Strasburg struck out 12 while allowing only a single run over seven innings.
The Astros will be happy to see George Springer go 2-for-3 with a homer and an RBI double on Tuesday, potentially breaking the right fielder out of a slump that has seen him hit 0.184 this postseason. Houston will hope that the rest of their lineup starts to come alive, as only Jose Altuve with his 0.333 (16-for-48) average with five home runs being the only Astro of note offensively during their World Series run.
The Nationals will be hoping that left-fielder Juan Soto continues his incredible hitting of the past two games. After a minor slump in the first three games of the NLCS, Soto has since gone 5-for-8 with a homer and four RBIs. With expectations that this would be a pitching-dominant matchup, any production from either lineup could be enough to seal a victory.