Who’s winning this year’s World Series? Well, let’s do what the players do; take it in game by game. Firstly, a few disclaimers: 1) I am not going to predict who will be driving in the runs by name, as doing that is trying to find a needle in a haystack. 2) My predictions will be of what the headline/story of each game will be, not an inning-by-inning breakdown. Let’s go!
Game 1: WSH (Max Scherzer) @ HOU (Gerrit Cole)
Prediction: Cole keeps up success, Astros win 4-1
In case you don’t know, Gerrit Cole has not been defeated in his last 25 starts. He has kept an ERA well under 2.00 during that stretch, and the likely AL Cy Young winner hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down, as he has allowed 1 run in 22.2 innings this postseason. Scherzer, on the other hand, hasn’t had the level of success that Cole has had recently. Sure, he threw 7 innings and allowed 1 hit in his only start of the NLCS, but so did every Nationals starter in that series. His postseason starts in his career have been mediocre. I see the Astros taking the first game of the series.
Game 2: WSH (Stephen Strasburg) @ HOU (Justin Verlander)
Prediction: Verlander’s struggles continue, Nats win first WS game since 1924, 5-3
Despite a fantastic first start in the ALDS from Verlander, he is winless in his other 3 postseason starts, going 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA. Verlander has been having some control problems, and the Nationals definitely have a lineup that is capable of taking advantage. Something that has gone unnoticed is Stephen Strasburg’s brilliant postseason. He is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 33 K’s in 22 innings in 4 appearances (3 starts) this postseason. I feel that if Strasburg can go 7 innings, thus limiting the bullpen usage, the Nationals can win game 2 and earn a split heading back to D.C..
Game 3: HOU (Zack Greinke) @ WSH (Patrick Corbin)
Prediction: Greinke contributes on both sides, Astros win 8-6
Game 3 signifies the shift to the NL park, and therefore, the elimination of the DH for three games. Believe it or not, this has a real chance of being an advantage for the Astros, who are the AL team. Yordan Alvarez, Houston’s regular DH, was 1-22 with 12 strikeouts in the ALCS. Zack Greinke, in addition to being a Silver Slugger winner in the NL previously, slashed .280/.308/.580 in 2019. So while common sense may dictate that the pitcher is worse at hitting than the hitter, the contrary may be true in this case. Sure, this may not be the main reason the Astros win this game, as Greinke has struggled in the postseason, but each start has been better than the last. In addition, Corbin has struggled this postseason, posting a 7.43 ERA in 5 games (2 starts). This game has the potential to be a high-scoring game, and it may be the most entertaining game of the series.
Game 4: HOU (Brad Peacock) @ WSH (Anibal Sanchez)
Prediction: Sanchez outperforms Astros’ bullpen, Nats win 4-2
This will likely be a game in which Brad Peacock is used as an opener, and the Astros use their bullpen after Peacock (see ALCS Game 6). The outcome of ALCS Game 6 might lead you to believe that the bullpen was effective, but this wasn’t the case. The Yankees had plenty of baserunners in that game, and a few defensive gems from the Astros saved those runners from scoring. On the other side, Anibal Sanchez has been electric this postseason, giving up just 1 total run in 2 starts, including taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Cardinals. I think Sanchez has the upper hand in the matchup with the Astros bullpen, so I predict this series being tied 2-2 after game 4.
Game 5: HOU (Gerrit Cole) @ WSH (Max Scherzer)
Prediction: Another masterpiece from Cole puts Astros a win away from the title, Astros win 5-0
The same storylines for game 1, apply here for game 5. The only difference is that Cole only has to face 8 real hitters instead of 9, meaning this start will most likely be better than his game 1 start. I think Scherzer, while he may only let up 2 or 3 runs, still exits early enough to the point that Astros are able to take advantage of the Nats’ bullpen.
Game 6: WSH (Stephen Strasburg) @ HOU (Justin Verlander)
Prediction: Verlander, Astros win 2-1, win 2nd World Series in 3 years
I think this will be a great game 6, as I presume that both pitchers will match each other pitch-for-pitch, and the game falls into the hands of the bullpens, giving the Astros the leg up. I see the Astros scoring their 2nd run once Scherzer exits, and the Astros bullpen holding the Nationals scoreless, as they lock up another championship, beating the Nationals in 6 games.
Photo: Baltimore Sports and Life