As many expected during the pre-season, Houston have come through the American League and made the World Series. They were an elite side throughout the regular season, picking up 107 wins and earning home field throughout. Their divisional series was definitely entertaining, but a 6-1 win in game 5 ultimately allowed them to prevail over Tampa. This set up a grudge match with the Yankees in the ALCS, one which they ultimately secured 4-2 on Sunday afternoon. After surprisingly resting him in game 6, stud pitcher Gerrit Cole will start here, in theory setting him up to also start game 4 and a potential game 7.
The Nationals have definitely faced an interesting path to get here, but they’ve set themselves up with a great chance to win. Despite some struggles to start, an excellent mid-season run saw them finish a respectable 93-69. This allowed them to host the NL Wild Card game, where they ultimately edged Milwaukee 4-3. Many thought they’d fall to the Dodgers in the divisional round, but an epic game 5 road win saw them advance. The Cardinals were no match for them in the NLCS as they cruised to a 4-game sweep. They’ve also got their ace starting this one, with Max Scherzer fresh and raring to go.
I don’t think I’ve faded Gerrit Cole all season and I’m not about to start doing so now. He was 20-5 in the regular season with a 2.5 ERA and has looked even more flawless in the playoffs so far. The rest advantage could work against Washington to start with, as they’ve had a full week without any in-game action. I can see their offence struggling against Cole here in what should be a low-scoring affair. While this could be an emotional letdown for Houston in theory, I think they’re so locked in to right last year’s wrong.
With two of the best pitchers in the league on display, runs will be at a premium in this one. Washington’s offence has been inconsistent throughout the playoffs and they definitely struggled to start the ALCS. Houston didn’t put on a great showing against the Yankees pitchers either, none of which are as accomplished as Max Scherzer. While I generally prefer the hook and under 7.5, I’m comfortable taking just 7 with these pitchers, especially with a potential push. My ultimate prediction for this one is 3-1 Houston.