Game 1 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros is Tuesday night, with the Astros heavy favorites to win the series and -195 favorites to take Game 1.
Houston’s journey to the World Series hasn’t been as easy as you might expect for a team that’s been the top betting favorite for much of the season. The Astros had to endure a Division Series with the Tampa Bay Rays that went the distance, then were pushed to six games by the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. However, the Astros have managed to advance despite not playing their best baseball.
Meanwhile, the Nationals were awfully impressive during their National League Championship Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. Before that, the Nationals had to survive the Wild Card Game with the Milwaukee Brewers and then take down the favored Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. The caveat is that Washington has had six days off to cool down, so they’ll have to find a way to get things back in gear after a long layoff.
The Nationals decided on Max Scherzer as their Game 1 starter. Scherzer missed time late in the season with a nagging back injury. He then got hit hard early in the Wild Card Game against Milwaukee, but he’s been close to unhittable ever since. Over his last two starts, Scherzer has covered 14 innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out 18. He’s back to being the dominant, three-time Cy Young winner that Nationals fans know.
Most of Houston’s hitters aren’t all that familiar with facing Scherzer. However, Michael Brantley saw a lot of him while Scherzer was in Detroit, going 15 for 44 (.341) with 10 extra-base hits. Josh Reddick is also 5 for 11 in his career against Scherzer. He would be a wild card in this game after not playing regularly during the postseason. Brantley, meanwhile, will have to spark Houston’s lineup with leadoff man George Springer having an up-and-down postseason.
The Best Ever?
Gerrit Cole, who will start Game 1 for the Astros, might be having the best postseason ever. He’s started three games in the playoffs, allowing just one run on 10 hits over 22 2/3 innings. Cole has also struck out 32 during that span. Despite walking five, he tossed seven shutout innings during his last start against the Yankees. The Astros are expecting more of the same from him in the World Series.
Most of Washington’s hitters have had limited success against Cole in their career. However, the lone exception is Anthony Rendon, Washington’s MVP candidate, who is 5 for 13 against Cole. Of course, he’ll need a little help around him, and the Nationals will look to youngster Juan Soto, who has never faced Cole.
Too Much Time
The time off for the Nationals since sweeping the NLCS is going to work against them in Game 1. It’s hard enough facing Cole in the middle of a hot streak, but Washington’s bats have had six days without game action. Expect another dominant performance from Cole and an Astros win in Game 1.