The Houston Astros are going to the World Series for the second time in three years. Many people predicted that the Astros would face the LA Dodgers in the World Series this year, but the Dodgers were knocked out of the NLDS by the Washington Nationals. The Nationals then went on to sweep the Cardinals in the NLCS.
So, it's no 2017 Dodgers, Astros rematch. Instead, the two teams with the best trios of starting pitching in baseball go head to head.
As Matt Lanza pointed out on Twitter, the 1-3 starters for both teams are all in the top 13 in fwar this season. Gerrit Cole was first, Justin Verlander was fifth, and Zack Greinke was ninth. Max Scherzer was fourth, Stephen Strasburg was 7th, and Patrick Corbin was 13th. That is a lot of firepower for both staffs, with a slight edge towards the Astros. Adding Anibal Sanchez to the mix may tip it a little to the Nationals, but not much if any.
With Gerrit Cole starting Game 1, Astros fans every right to be cocky about their chances. After all, he’s been unbeatable for a while. But on last night’s Locked On Astros podcast, guest Sully mentioned the Nationals were not a good match for the Astros. The Astros have been winning behind the pitching of Cole and Verlander, but could Cole be canceled out by Scherzer?
If you think the Yankees fans were annoying, @sullybaseball says that the Nationals fans will be hyped! Plus, he thinks Zack Greinke will be the key for the #Astros. Give the @LockedOnAstros a listen. Non-apple version. #TakeItBack https://t.co/0KLwzfm1kt— Eric Huysman (not 22 years old) (@EricTalksStros) October 21, 2019
We will find out if that is true. The same could be said about Stephen Strasburg and Verlander. Aces will be aces, so the focus should be on the third and fourth pitchers. If that’s the case, the Astros lack the fourth starter that the Nationals have. But they also just won Game 6 of the ALCS without a starter. How many World Series teams do you remember not having an adequate fourth starter? Think about it, I’ll wait. It was supposed to be Wade Miley, but all you can do is shrug with that thought.
Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin are likely the third starters and will pitch in the first home World Series game in Nationals history. Corbin has not been officially announced, but it’s only a matter of time. As Sully mentioned on the show, Greinke’s start can decide how long or short the series could go. Greinke will also be back in his element, pitching in a ballpark that follows the National League rules. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greinke tries to pitch a complete game shutout so he can bat a few times. As a starter, Corbin has been good, but not in his brief stints in the bullpen in the NLDS.
Ben Reiter joined the Locked On Astros podcast and said that Cole and Verlander are the best pitchers in the game. With that being said, how does the Astros rotation compared to the Nationals rotation?
@BenReiter of SI joined the @LockedOnAstros podcast to talk about the following.— Eric Huysman (not 22 years old) (@EricTalksStros) October 22, 2019
- Gerrit Cole
- The Greinke Trade
- Wade Miley
- The struggling bats
- His predictions
- Brandon Taubman#Astroshttps://t.co/LlG5AvTT2E
Game 1: Cole vs. Scherzer
What can you say about Cole? He’s been a video game cheat code for the last four months and doesn’t show signs of stopping. He was not as good versus the Yankees in his lone start but pitched well enough to get the win in Game 3. The Astros have relied a lot on the arm of Cole as he had averaged 112.3 pitches a start in the playoffs.
Regular season: 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 13.8 k/9, 0.89 WHIP.
Postseason: 3-0, 0.40 ERA, 12.7 k/9, 0.79 WHIP
Regular season WAR: 6.9 WAR
Scherzer started in the NL Wild Card game and the Brewers exploded for three runs in the first inning. He pitched started once in each of the division and championship series. He was his typically dominant self, even in a brief appearance. When he is on, he is one of the best pitchers on the planet. But right now, Cole is the best pitcher on the planet.
Regular season: 11-7, 2.9 ERA, 12.7 k/9, 1.03 WHIP
Postseason: 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 12.2 k/9, 0.85 WHIP
Regular season WAR: 5.8 WAR
Game 2: Verlander vs. Strasburg
In the 2019 playoffs, Verlander has been great in his first starts in the division and championship series. However, his second starts have been a little rough. The first one was on short rest in Game 4 versus the Rays and the second was in an elimination game for the Yankees in the Bronx. The rowdy crowd did affect the first inning, but Verlander ended up settling down and pitched six shutout innings afterwords. Verlander should be his dominant self in his first start versus the Nationals.
Regular season: 21-6, 2.58 ERA, 12.1 k/9, .80 WHIP.
Postseason: 1-2 record, 3.70 ERA, 10.7 k/9, 1.07 WHIP.
Regular season WAR: 7.8 WAR
Strasburg is the key for the Nationals. He has been on a great run before and during the playoffs this year. If anyone can out pitch Verlander, Strasburg is the guy. The only thing that has held Strasburg back in his career has been his health. He has the option to opt-out of his contract this offseason like Greinke did to the Dodgers to sign with Arizona. Could he be someone’s backup in case someone misses out on Cole?
Regular season: 18-6, 3.32 ERA, 10.8 k/9, 1.04 WHIP
Postseason: 3-0, 1.64 ERA, 13.5 k/9, 0.86 WHIP
Regular season WAR: 6.3 WAR
Game 3: Corbin vs. Greinke
If Greinke can recover to be the guy he was with the Diamondbacks, the Astros could easily win the World Series. However, he did have one quality start and did pitch well at Yankee Stadium. Hinch has kept Greinke on a short leash so far, only averaging 75.7 pitches per start. Greinke has faced the Nationals before and may feel more comfortable under the National League rules. Greinke could be the key to the Astros’ success, and it will start on Friday night.
Regular season: 18-5, 2.93 ERA, 8.07 k/9, 0.98 WHIP
Postseason: 1-2, 6.43 ERA, 10.3 k/9, 1.43 WHIP
Regular season WAR: 6.4 WAR
Corbin was the big acquisition for the Nationals after his big year with the Diamondbacks in 2018. According to some rumors at the time, the Astros had some interest in signing him before they went with Wade Miley. Corbin is the third head to the Nationals trio and can dominate any lineup when his stuff is good. Like Greinke, his numbers are skewed by one bad outing. In Corbin’s case, it was as a reliever in the division series. Corbin has not been officially named as the Game 3 pitcher.
Regular season: 14-7, 3.25 ERA, 10.6 k/9, 1.18 WHIP
Postseason: 1-2, 7.43 ERA, 17.6 k/9, 1.58 WHIP
Regular season WAR: 5.4 WAR
Anibal Sanchez is the Nationals fourth starter. He had an 11-8 record in 166 IP with a 3.85 ERA. Brad Peacock is likely to start Game 4 for the Stros, followed by a slew of relievers such as Josh James, Ryan Pressly, and Jose Urquidy. Maybe Miley makes the World Series roster as a lefty-reliever, but the Nationals hold the advantage in Game 4 on paper. However, if the Astros find themselves on the brink of elimination, Cole could be moved up.
The World Series will be a reunion for Verlander, Scherzer, and Sanchez from the 2012 World Series. No matter how good the Astros pitchers are, Houston's slumping offense needs to score more often. The Astros bullpen is better than the Nationals, but the Nats' pen has had a good postseason.
Either way, let’s go Astros.