Dan Piersma, Staff Writer
The Major League Baseball World Series is underway and it could be an October classic for the ages. The number one seed in the American League are the Houston Astros, who had the best record in baseball, facing off against the National League wild card team, the Washington Nationals.
The last time the Houston Astros appeared in the World Series was in 2017 when they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
The Washington Nationals have never appeared in a World Series since their move to the nation’s capital in 2002.
Games one and two will be in Houston. The teams will then travel to Washington D.C. to play games three, four, and if necessary, game five. Games six and seven will then head back to Houston, also if necessary.
Senior Mark Mitchell said he is looking forward to this matchup.
“A fresh face for the October classic is good for the game,” Mitchell said. “I believe in the first half of the series Washington will have the advantage because of the long rest they received going into the World series.”
Pitching matchups will get competitive during the series. Two of the top three candidates for the Cy Young award in both leagues are on each of these teams.
Statistically, these are two of the best rotations in baseball, which should make this series even better than some thought it would be if they looked at this as a matchup at the beginning of the playoffs.
For the Astros, their top pitchers are Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke.
For the Nationals, they are Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.
Cole finished the season 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and lead the league in strikeouts with 32. Cole has not lost a game since the middle of May.
Verlander went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and finished just behind Cole with 300 strikeouts. Cole and Verlander are the first pair of teammates in history to both record 300 strikeouts in the same season.
Halfway through the season, the Astros traded for veteran pitcher Greinke who went 8-1 with a 3.02 ERA and 52 strikeouts while on the team.
Another advantage for the Astros is that they are one of the best hitting teams in baseballs. They’ve struck out the least amount of times out of all the teams in the league while their pitchers struck out the most batters.
The Astros have a handful of All-Stars on the offense and a top MVP candidate in Alex Bregman, which can make for a tough lineup to face. The way to beat them is to jump on them early and hope you can contain the offense after you get a lead, and to get their starting pitchers out as early as possible.
The Nationals are in a similar situation in that they have three incredible pitchers and a top MVP candidate on the team. They are a very hard team to score runs on.
Their top pitcher is Scherzer, who finished the season 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts. This was Scherzer’s first season since 2015 not leading the league in strikeouts, but he had dealt with a couple of injuries this season which forced him to miss a few starts as he started under 30 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2008.
Strasburg stepped up this season going 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts and he led the league in innings pitched with 209 which was a huge help considering the injuries to Max Scherzer.
In his first season with the Nationals, two-time all-star Patrick Corbin went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 33 starts.
Nationals standout MVP candidate Anthony Rendon was also a huge help to the team’s success this year and he seemed to take over as the team’s star after Bryce Harper left for the Phillies this past off season.
Rendon had 174 hits with 34 home runs and a batting average of .319. Rendon also lead the league in doubles for a second straight year with 44 and lead the league in RBI’s for the first time in his career with 126.
These are two powerhouse teams, and while the Nationals may have been underrated and the Astros have been World Series favorites all season, this series has the potential to be one of the best in recent years.