Game 1: Gerrit Cole
HOUSTON – Cole has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and the best pitcher in the playoffs. He has a 0.40 postseason ERA (1 run given up in 22.2 innings). He’s basically been untouchable.
The Astros winning the ALCS in six games instead of four or five actually set up the team for the World Series better than anything else, giving Houston the opportunity to possibly get three starts out of Cole if absolutely necessary.
He’ll face three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.
Game 2: Justin Verlander
Verlander and Cole flip-flop from the ALDS to the World Series, giving the Astros one of the best Game 2 starters of the decade. Verlander has a chance to win the AL Cy Young and has been effective on full rest.
In his three starts on full rest, Verlander has a 2.61 ERA, winning two of those three games for the Astros. Verlander will face Stephen Strasburg. The ex-No. 1 overall pick, Strasburg has been one of the best playoff starters ever. His 1.10 playoff ERA is 10th all-time. He’s first all-time among starters in strikeout rate. If any pitcher can match Verlander, it’s Strasburg.
Game 3: Zack Greinke
The Astros traded for Greinke to be the team’s third ace. That hasn’t happened. Greinke pitched 4.1 1-run innings against the Yankees in Game 5 after six innings in Game 1. The Astros put up eight runs in Game 5, saving Greinke from an inefficient start. His playoff struggles date back to 2017 with the Diamondbacks. Greinke now has a 6.75 ERA in his last five playoff starts, including three this season. He will have to be sharp in Game 3 because the Nationals will likely counter with Patrick Corbin.
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