The 2019 World Series is set: The Houston Astros will face the Washington Nationals for the Commissioner’s Trophy to close out the postseason. Both teams have highly touted starting pitching, but they took different October roads to reach the Fall Classic.
Washington had to come from behind to win the Wild Card Game over the Brewers on Oct. 1. The Nationals then won the final two games of the NLDS to upset the top-seeded Dodgers before sweeping the NL Central-winning Cardinals to get the World Series.
It was a more straightforward road for the Astros.
Houston had baseball’s best record in the regular season, going 107-55. The Astros won the ALDS despite needing five games versus the Rays, and they shook off a Game 1 loss in the ALCS to defeat the Yankees in six games.
Unsurprisingly, the Astros — going for their second title in three years — are the (rather heavy) favorites to win the World Series against the Nationals.
On the surface, Washington’s regular-season record (93-69) doesn’t stand out compared to an Astros team that has won more than 100 games in three consecutive seasons. Digging deeper into how the Nationals entered at this moment, though, indicates they are playing right on par with the AL champions.
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Since hitting rock bottom with a 19-31 record after a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets on May 23, the Nationals played at the same pace as the Los Angeles Dodgers
That offense has carried over its performance to the postseason, something that can’t be said about the three other teams that advanced to the league championship series
It is worth pointing out Washington’s lineup will face a pitching staff in the World Series better than it saw in the NLCS versus the Cardinals.
St. Louis had to hold its best starter until Game 3 of the NLCS because Jack Flaherty was used in the fifth game of the NLDS. The Astros will be able to use Justin Verlander and Cole four times if the World Series goes seven games. Zack Greinke has been inconsistent in the postseason, but he was able to limit the Yankees to one run over 4.1 innings in Game 4 of the ALCS.