Who is most likely to win the 2019 World Series? A good question to ask now that the World Series is here!
So, you want predictions and MVP picks right? SB Nation’s baseball friends look into a crystal (base)ball to see how the series will play out.
[The big preview: Nationals vs. Astros is the perfect World Series for a bizarre MLB season]
Eric Stephen: Nationals in 6
The easy pick would be the favored Astros, and with good reason. Houston won 107 games, their offense adjusted for park and league is basically the 1927 Yankees, and their pitching staff from top to bottom is downright scary. But, if there is any duo that can hang with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, it’s Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Cole and Verlander this October have a 2.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 47 innings, while Scherzer and Strasburg are at 1.71 with 60 strikeouts in 42 innings. The Nationals have better starting pitching depth thanks to Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez, with Washington’s big four sporting a 2.04 ERA in 10 games this postseason.
The Nationals’ bullpen is generally bad, but thanks to their starters excelling they’ve been able to limit the relief innings to mostly Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson plus the occasional Corbin as LOOGY moment. Those six pitchers have combined to pitch 90 percent (81 of 90) of Washington’s innings this postseason.
To boost my confidence in picking the Nationals, I will cherry pick dates: after Washington’s putrid 19-31 start to 2019, the Nationals are 82-40 (.672) including the playoffs, while the Astros are 81-41 (.664).
Sure, the Nationals have been off for a week, but if they can keep doing what their doing, Scherzer and Strasburg can split their four games against Cole and Verlander, and win two games with Corbin and Sanchez against Zack Greinke and a Houston bullpen game, Washington will have its third championship in the last year and a half, joining the Capitals and Mystics.
MVP: Max Scherzer
Demetrius Bell: Astros in 7
It really feels like the Nationals might be a team of destiny. They pulled off a dramatic late-game comeback to beat the Brewers in the Wild Card game that seems like it was played six months ago. They knocked off the NL favorites in five games by beating the Dodgers in their own stadium. The last two teams to do that to Los Angeles both did it in the World Series, so maybe it really is in the cards for Washington? That was before they dismantled a Cardinals team that was flying high after they drop-kicked the Braves into their offseason.
The Nationals absolutely have the pitching to hang with Houston and that could end up being enough to pull it off for them. The thing is, I feel like Washington’s amazing crew of starters absolutely have to keep this level of form up for the World Series. If their bullpen gets deeply exposed at any point, they’re going to be in big trouble.
Even if the Nationals continue playing at this extremely high level, they haven’t had to deal with anything like what the Astros bring to this series. Houston has been firing on all cylinders all through October and this will be the sternest test that the Nationals have had to face when it comes to run prevention.
Meanwhile, the Astros have already proven that they can take on good pitching in this year’s postseason and they’ve still hit. This will also be Houston’s toughest test, but I believe that they’re up to it. It’ll be a very tight series and it has the potential to be great as well. Once it’s all over, Houston will have themselves another trophy.
MVP: Jose Altuve
Sami Higgins: Nationals in 7
I feel like Demetrius made my case in his first paragraph, though his conclusion is the opposite of mine. I think the week off may hurt the Nationals initially, with the Astros storming in with momentum after their lengthier battle against the Yankees to take the pennant. I think that may work in Houston’s favor in the first couple of games, as the Nationals get back into a groove.
But as Demetrius said, this Nationals team really does have an air of destiny about it. It’s hard not to want to root for a team that hasn’t even been to a World Series in their franchise history over a team that has won one in the last few years. But that isn’t to say that the Astros aren’t an incredible team who deserve to win another one, I’m just pulling for the perceived underdog here.
So maybe this prediction is more like what I hope will happen, but I do think the Nationals have a good chance to take the series. Houston has faced some decent pitching, but what the Nationals pitching staff did in the championship series was a work of art. If they can come close to replicating those performances, they’re in business.
On the other end, the Astros have a dream team of a starting rotation, but we’ve seen teams get to Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander in this postseason. The Nationals’ have shown they can get on base in a number of ways, and generally capitalize on scoring opportunities, so they can manufacture rallies at the first sign of weakness from an opposing pitcher.
The challenge for Washington, especially if it goes a full seven games, will be their lack of depth outside of the rotation. As Eric noted, they’ve relied heavily on basically two relievers thus far, saving everyone else for blowout situations. So we may see them revert to the strategy they employed in the division series, where they used their their rotation as both starting pitchers and the bullpen. While I don’t think it’s the best strategy, if they do get their backs against the wall early in the series, it might be necessary.
MVP: Anthony Rendon
What do you think? Let us know in the comments and then screenshot it and send it to us when you end up being right!