World Series Preview: Astros Vs. Nationals

The Astros are back in the World Series, but do they have enough to beat the Nationals?

Quinn Walsh and Matt Grimes

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AL Champions: Houston Astros 

by Quinn Walsh

At approximately 12:20 AM Sunday morning, Jose Altuve crushed the dreams of the entirety of the New York Metropolitan Area. After four hours and nine minutes of game time, the diminutive Astros second baseman sent one into deep left field to stun the New York Yankees. He got a hold of star closer Aroldis Chapman’s revered slider, an 84 mile an hour one at that, at roped it nearly 400 feet into the depths of Minute Made Park. Altuve’s walk-off capped an already stellar game from him, finishing with a stat line of 2-4, 2 RBI, 3 runs, and 1 walk. The homer sent the Astros back to the World Series for the second time in three years.

After years of “tanking”, intentionally losing to induce talent, the Astros were on top of the baseball world in 2017. They have a shot to be again. They have, in my opinion, the best lineup in the MLB, coupled with the best pitching staff. Oh, and they have the best farm system, too. In other words, the Astros are a superteam. Their starting rotation consists of Justin Verlander (eight time All-Star, MVP, Cy Young winner, Rookie of the Year, etc. You get the point), Gerrit Cole (league leader in strikeouts with THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX and likely Cy Young winner this year), and Zack Greinke (six time All-Star, Cy Young winner). This pitching staff was and is built to dominate any lineup they face, and have done as much so far. The Astros lineup is built for power and longevity, with most of their key players being on the right side of 30. The Nationals, though, have a pretty legit pitching staff themselves, matching Verlander, Cole, and Greinke with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin, all pretty good pitchers. The advantage still goes to the Astros in that department, but the Nationals pitching staff should be taken seriously (Fun Fact: Scherzer and Verlander were both on the Detroit Tigers together for years).

Lineup wise, the Astros also have the advantage, rolling out a one through nine of: George Springer (CF), Altuve (2B), Michael Brantely (LF), Alex Bregman (3B), Yuli Gurriel (1B), Carlos Correa (SS), Yordan Alvarez (DH), Josh Reddick (RF) and a mixture of Robinson Chirinos and Martín Maldonado at catcher. Any of those players minus the catchers would probably be the best or second best hitter on my Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros also have a player named Kyle Tucker waiting in the minors, who would also be the second best hitter on the Phillies. The Nationals can counter the Astros with hitters such as Anthony Rendon, the likely NL MVP, and 20-year-old Juan Soto, but they just can’t match them one through nine.

This is why I predict the Astros as the winners of the 2019 World Series. That’s right. The Quinn Walsh Crystal Ball Prediction™ tells me the Astros will once again be the MLB champions. To recap:

Starting Rotation: Astros

Bullpen: Astros

Hitting: Astros

Defense: Nationals

Intangibles: Nationals

 

Prediction: Astros in 6, MVP Verlander

 

NL Champions: Washington Nationals

By Matt Grimes

The surprise of the 2019 season has to be the unexpected success of the Nationals. After losing their superstar, homegrown Bryce Harper, to their division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason, their upcoming season seemed to be hopeless. In the first two months of the season, the doubters appeared to be proven right; at the end of May the Nats were sitting in fourth place with a record of 24-33, while the Phillies lead with the opposite record, 33-24. 

But at the end of the month, the Baseball God slammed his staff and shook the Earth, and cause a reversal of fortunes. The Phillies collapsed due to their poor pitching staff and sinking numbers from Golden-boy Bryce. However the Nats skyrocketed behind aces Max Scherzer and Steven Strausburg. 

Scherzer, who was released from his imprisonment with the Detroit Tigers in 2015, put up stellar numbers again this year, retaining his status as the league’s scariest looking pitcher. Backing up Scherzer is fireballer Stephen Strasburg, who punished batters this year with an impressive 10 hit batsmen. Behind them are Patrick Corbin and Anibal “Sanchize” Sanchez, who both devastated opposing lineups throughout the regular season.

But as good as their rotation is, there is more to be said about their offense, which features the young Trea Turner, who made off with 35 stolen bases this year. But the linchpin of their offense has to be Anthony Rendon, who is the heaviest hitter DC has seen since Nixon. However, the best story is Ryan Zimmerman, the first draft pick made by the new Nationals franchise in 2005, who has successfully fought injuries to remain productive for the Nats across his fifteen year career, and is appearing in his first World series.  

Despite surpassing the failing Philadelphia Phillies with ease, the Nats were faced with more substantial challenges in the postseason. They first had to stage a comeback win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card round before facing the league-best LA Dodgers in the divisional. The Dodgers were heavy favorites to win the pennant after winning 108 games in the regular season. However, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw evaporated under the lights, and the Nationals claimed victory with an extra innings win in game 5. They then had no problem beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the championship series, allowing only 6 runs in the four-game sweep. 

THE VERDICT: While I commend the AL Champion Houston Astros for defeating both the demonic New York Yankees and the dastardly Tampa Bay Rays, both of which are pests of the MLB, I must profess: the Nationals should win this World Series. The Nationals, who are in their first postseason run much less first world series, are too likable as the underdogs than the widely-favored Astros. And if their recent performance is any guide, they are not as much underdogs as they are portrayed to be.

Nationals over Astros, Seven Games