The 117th edition of the Fall Classic begins Tuesday as the Atlanta Braves take on the Houston Astros.
How They Got There
The Astros went 95-67 on their way to their fourth AL West title in five years. In the Division Series, they beat the Chicago White Sox in four games before beating the Boston Red Sox to win their third AL pennant in five seasons.
The Braves are going to the World Series for the first time since 1999. A late-season surge helped them win their fourth straight NL East title with a record of 88-73. They took down the Milwaukee Brewers in Division Series before upsetting the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series.
This should be a close matchup between two of the most exciting teams in baseball. Let’s take a look at each aspect of the game to see where each team has the advantage.
Both teams come into the World Series with depleted pitching staffs. Huascar Ynoa was scratched from his Game 4 start with a shoulder injury and he won’t be available for the World Series. The Braves will rely on Max Fried, Charlie Morton to Ian Anderson to make starts. Apart from Fried’s rough start against the Dodgers, the trio of Braves starters has been lights out this postseason. Their pitching staff has two shutouts and has an ERA of 3.41. In late-inning situations, the Braves can count on Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, and Will Smith to close out games.
The Astros will be without ace Lance McCullers in the World Series. He made two starts this postseason but was forced to leave the second with forearm tightness. The rest of their rotation has struggled this postseason. Zack Greinke has yet to reach his old postseason form while Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy have all struggled to get outs. The lack of length from their starters has forced their bullpen to cover a lot of innings. Christian Javier and Kendall Graveman have been bright spots for their staff out of the bullpen. As a group, the Astros posted a 4.50 ERA this postseason.
The Atlanta bats have found their swing as of late. After struggling to score against the Brewers, they found their stride against a depleted Dodgers pitching staff. NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario is absolutely killing the ball and reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman has found his bat. Rosario batted .560 and tied a postseason record with 14 hits during the NLCS. Freeman went 0-8 with 7Ks to begin the NLCS before responding with two home runs and six walks over the final four games. Austin Riley is having a quietly fantastic postseason and Joc Peterson is making a name for himself with his clutch homers. The Braves will receive a boost with the return of Jorge Soler who missed the majority of the NLCS with Covid-19.
The Astros bats have been on fire. They are averaging 6.7 runs per game this postseason. Every hitter in their lineup is very disciplined. They had one of the lowest strikeout rates and highest walk rates in the majors this year. ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez is the hottest hitter in their lineup but isn’t the only player that should be highlighted. Veterans Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa are all contributing to the highest-scoring team this postseason. Kyle Tucker has been the clutches player for the Astros, leading the team with 15 RBIs this postseason. If Jose Altuve is able to turn around his disappointing postseason, the Astros will be even more dangerous.
The Braves are back in the World Series for the first time since 1999 and are looking to win their first title since 1995. With Freddie Freeman set to be a free agent after this season, this could be the last time he could win a title for the team that drafted him. While he has expressed interest in staying with the team, this could be the last time fans see him in the blue and red. For manager Brian Snitker, he is looking to bring a title to the team he has been with for his entire coaching career. He has been their manager since 2016 but has been with the organization since 1985.
The Astros are looking to prove the haters wrong. They are back in the World Series for the first time since their cheating scandal rippled through the MLB world. They are looking to redeem themselves and bring home their second title in five years. For manager Dusty Baker, he is looking to win his first World Series as a manager and exercise some past demons. Baseball fans remember when Baker regrettably pulled San Francisco Giants pitcher Russ Ortiz with a 5-0 lead in game 6 of the 2002 World Series. The Giants would go on to lose the game and the series. Baker will be hoping to avoid a similar storyline this time around with the Astros.
I expect a lot of fireworks in a matchup between two teams with hot bats. The Braves have the advantage on the mound which will give them the edge they need. Charlie Morton has been a beast all postseason and will shut down the Astros in game 1 while setting the tone for the rest of the series. A big series by Freddie Freeman will earn him World Series MVP honors, and Dusty Baker will fail to reach the promised land once again.
Braves in 6