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2021 World Series Preview: Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros

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The Braves and Astros take a shot at immortality as they face off in the 2021 World Series

World Series Workout Day Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

After a wild week in both League Championship Series, the entrants into the 2021 World Series have been set, and it will be your own Houston Astros against the growing power of the NL East, The Atlanta Braves.

The Braves have come a far way in the last few years, emerging from postseason irrelevancy in 2018 to win the NL East, which was the first of four straight division titles for them. But It wasn’t until 2020 that they were finally able to break through the divisional round and advance to the NLCS, ultimately falling to the Dodgers in 7 Games after being up 3-1.

Atlanta exorcised those demons relatively quickly though, winning the pennant in convincing fashion this past weekend to eliminate those same Dodgers (tee hee) and punch their ticket to the Fall Classic. Now they’ll face the biggest challenge of their season in the form of a veteran team that has played meaningful baseball deep into October 5 years running.

On top of that, this series is chalk full of narratives that will be easy to latch on to. Both teams have managers that have paid their baseball dues and then some, setting up storybook endings no matter who comes out on top. Don’t even get me started on how adorable Ronnie Snitker was while trying to decide who to root for between her husband and son.

But fun-time stories aside, what we’re seeing here is the culmination of two narratives that have stretched back multiple seasons. For the Braves, this is the coming of age for a team that has lingered just outside of October glory for years now. For Houston, it’s not about redemption so much as affirmation that this team is good no matter how people feel about trash cans.

In fact, this World Series matchup feels more like an actual rivalry rather than the manufactured one surrounding the Dodgers and Astros based on the cheating scandal. While I get that everyone wanted to bloviate about sign stealing for the next week and a half, I am a man who’s baseball core was forged in red-hot heat tears of anger from NLDS exits at the hands of the late 90’s Braves.

Not only that, but these two teams have been playing each other since back when there were only 10 teams in the Senior Circuit. G1 marks the 727th time that the Braves and Astros have played each other, and, with the record currently tilted in Atlanta’s favor at 333-363, I certainly won’t feel bad about winning one more series from them.


Offense

If you only consider their 88-73 regular season record, the Braves’ offense has been punching well above their weight this postseason. But toss those numbers aside and you see an offense that has been steady all season, though not exactly overwhelming. As a team they slashed a combined .244/.319/.435 from April to September, turning in an 8th-best .754 OPS.

But while that regular season performance is what put them in the tournament, what has helped put them in the World Series is the explosive bat of NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario (.474/.524/.789 postseason) along with big time performances from Freddie Freeman (.294/.455/.618 postseason) and Joc Pederson (.276/.323/.586 postseason) during the postseason.

I really don’t want to gloss over just how much of a beast Eddie Rosario was in the NLCS. He collected 14 hits in that series, which tied him for the MLB postseason record. Rosario also crushed a go-ahead three-run homer off of Walker Buehler in G6 that ended up being all she wrote in that series. But, unfortunately for Atlanta, the rest of the lineup hasn’t exactly been world beaters in the stats department this October, though there have been some clutch hits this postseason.

That’s personified by Austin Riley (.250/.302/.450 postseason), who delivered the walk off hit in NLCS G1, but his numbers aren’t quite up to the performance we saw out of him in the regular season. Ozzie Albies (.262/.295/.333 postseason) and Adam Duvall (.229/.282/.371 postseason) are also in that category with both are hitting well below their season averages.

Still, in a postseason series like this you can definitely have three guys carry you to glory as long as you get timely contribution from the rest of the lineup, which is what we’ve seen from Atlanta all postseason.


Pitching

The Braves pitching is a big part of how they were able to get through the rest of the NL to arrive in the position they are at now. The top three in their rotation, Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson, all had excellent regular season performances with ERAs in the mid to low 3’s.

Fried and Morton have continued that success in the postseason as well, though each had a wobbly start in NLCS. Morton was able to escape his start in LA with just 2 runs scored across 5 innings in spite of 6 walks. Fried was not so fortunate, dropping 5 runs in 4.2 IP to the Dodgers during his final NLCS start, and eventually took the Loss.

As for #3 starter Ian Anderson, after an excellent NLDS showing his lines looked a little shaky for his 2 NLCS starts. He weaved through 10 baserunners in 7 IP during those final games, including 4 walks, but was able to limit the damage to just 3 runs.

Drew Smyly was the Braves #4 starter during the regular season but was used as a “bulk innings” pitcher during the NLCS. That game featured an opener with a start for journeyman bullpen arm Jesse Chavez, who Astros fans may remember from the Rangers a few years ago. Smyly gave up 2 runs across 3.1 IP in that one, but ultimately got the win.

As for the bullpen, the Braves have been relying heavily on the trio of Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, and Will Smith to help them close out games. Minter and Smith have been absolutely lights out this postseason, sporting ERA’s of 0.00 in 7.1 and 7 IP, respectively.

But the real hero out of the pen for Atlanta has been Tyler Matzek, who as appeared in all but one of the Braves’ game this October. In those 9 appearances he has seemingly shut down opponents at will, single handedly smothering a Dodgers rally in G6 to more or less end the NLCS.


Poll

Who wins the 2021 World Series?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Astros Sweep 4-0
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Astros Win 4-1
    (30 votes)
  • 55%
    Astros Win 4-2
    (154 votes)
  • 11%
    Astros Win 4-3
    (33 votes)
  • 3%
    Braves Win 4-3
    (10 votes)
  • 10%
    Braves Win 4-2
    (30 votes)
  • 2%
    Braves Win 4-1
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Braves Sweep 4-0
    (6 votes)
280 votes total Vote Now

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Charlie Morton (RHP, 14-6, 3.34 ERA, 216 K’s**) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 11-6, 3.14 ERA, 125 K’s**)
When: Tuesday, October 26th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM / Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

AD

Game 2: TBD vs TBD
When: Wednesday, October 27th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

Game 3: TBD vs TBD
When: Friday, October 29th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

Game 4: TBD vs TBD
When: Saturday, October 30th @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

Game 5*: TBD vs TBD
When: Sunday, October 31st @ 7:15 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010 / Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

Game 6*: TBD vs TBD
When: Tuesday, November 2nd @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM / Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

Game 7*: TBD vs TBD
When: Wednesday, November 3rd @ 7:09 pm CDT
Listen: Braves - 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network, ESPN Radio, La Mejor 1600/1460/1130 AM / Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, TUDN 93.3/KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX, FOX-INT

*if necessary
**regular season stats


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Moneyline Odds for World Series: Astros -140, Braves +120
Moneyline Odds for Game 1: Astros -150, Braves +130