HOUSTON – The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals will face off in a World Series featuring teams that have rarely made it. Houston is in its second World Series in three years, and its third all-time.
The Nationals, in their current form, had never made it until this season. The last time a Washington team made the World Series was 1933, and that was the Senators.
The Nationals have been in contention for the NL East pretty much every season since the team's first playoff appearance in 2012, but have never been able to get out of the NLDS. As soon as Bryce Harper left in free agency, the Nationals are in the World Series.
This is a scary team that matches up well with the Astros and does similar things.
SS Trea Turner
One of the fastest players in baseball, Turner is still a work in progress. His .353 OBP is good, not great for a leadoff hitter, but he added 19 home runs and 35 stolen bases. You don't want to let Turner get on base.
LF Adam Eaton
The injury-prone ex-White Sox outfielder stayed healthy this season and brings solid plate discipline to the 2-spot in the Nationals lineup.
3B Anthony Rendon
Other than Gerrit Cole, Rendon is going to be the biggest free agent this upcoming offseason. Rendon is the potential NL MVP after a career year when he hit .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI. Rendon's 1.010 OPS is near the league lead. The Houston native is easily the most dangerous hitter in the Nationals lineup.
RF Juan Soto
Soto turns 21 in the middle of the World Series and is already one of the best hitters in the National League. He hit .282 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI in the middle of the Nationals lineup during his Age 20 season. Soto can be best described as a left-handed Alex Bregman. He has a terrific eye and earned more than 100 walks during the season, with a .401 OBP.
2B Howie Kendrick
Kendrick can be best described as a professional hitter and won the NLCS MVP against the Cardinals. He's not a flashy player, but there's a reason he hits 5th in this lineup.
1B Ryan Zimmerman
Mr. National has been with the team since they existed. A 2005 draft pick, Zimmerman was injured and struggling during the regular season, hitting for just a .736 OPS in 52 games. He's been far more useful in the postseason, hitting .267 with 5 RBI across 30 at-bats.
CF Victor Robles
One of the top graduated prospects in baseball is known as an elite outfield defender and can hit a bit. His 88 OPS+ isn't great but had 17 HR worth of pop in the bottom of the lineup. Robles is extremely susceptible to the strikeout and will chase.
C Yan Gomes/Kurt Suzuki
The Nationals bring in catchers based on matchup, much like the Astros do. Neither catcher is an elite player, but they both get the job done. Suzuki catches Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, while Gomes usually gets Corbin and Sanchez.
Ace: RHP Max Scherzer
One of the few pitchers who can match Gerrit Cole, the flamethrowing righty Max Scherzer has won three Cy Young Awards in two leagues.
Scherzer is a contender for the NL Cy Young again. He's a solid-if-unspectacular postseason pitcher with a 3.35 ERA in 102 innings. This year, Scherzer gave up three runs in the Wild Card game against the Brewers but has been untouchable since. In three appearances and two starts against the Dodgers and Cardinals, Scherzer has given up 1 run in 15 innings.
#2 Pitcher: RHP Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg isn't as good as Scherzer, but he's much better in the playoffs. Strasburg is an all-time playoff pitcher, with a 1.10 ERA in 41 innings. This postseason he's given up four runs in 22 innings (1.64 ERA).
Strasburg is coming off a start where he shut down the Cardinals with 7 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts. He's the Nationals match to Verlander.
#3 Pitcher: LHP Patrick Corbin
The Nationals signed Corbin from Arizona to a six-year, $140 million deal and instantly got rewarded with one of the top seasons by a lefty starter in baseball. Corbin pitched to a 3.25 ERA with 238 strikeouts.
Corbin is a former teammate of Astros #3 starter Zack Greinke.
Corbin has struggled in his first taste of playoff baseball, pitching to a 7.43 ERA, mixing in two starts with three relief appearances. Corbin's best weapon is a wipeout slider that's among the best in the league.
#4 Pitcher: RHP Anibal Sanchez
Sanchez is a perfect fourth starter and has a ton of playoff experience. Sanchez has thrown 56 innings in the playoffs across 9 different series. He's had his best showing since 2012, pitching a near-no-hitter against the Cardinals (7.2 IP 1 hit). In this year's playoffs, Sanchez has given up 1 run in 12.2 innings. He holds the advantage against the Astros when they have to throw a bullpen game vs. a solid starter.
This is the Nationals biggest weakness. Washington had the worst bullpen ERA in all of baseball. The absolute worst. The Nats bullpen had a 5.66 ERA and blew 29 saves – tied for third in all of baseball.
The postseason bullpen has been better, but not by much. Washington's playoff ERA is 4.76, just ahead of the Dodgers and Twins.
Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle are the names to know. The Astros have the offense to tag anyone else in that Washington bullpen.