Posted on October 30, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The 2019 MLB season will end tonight with Game 7 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Of course, Game 6 will be a tough act to follow. It had home runs, showboating after those home runs, incredible controversy, a managerial ejection, and more. On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like a Game 7 with a championship trophy on the line.
This World Series has already made history in a rather unusual way. This is the first time that the road team has won the first six games of a 7-game series. It’s not just the first time in baseball either. It’s never happened in the NBA or NHL either, making it a first in American pro sports. Neither team has been able to explain why the road team has won every game, especially after so much is made of trying to secure home-field advantage. Obviously, if the Nationals win, history will be made by virtue of the road team winning all seven games and a team winning the World Series by winning four games on the road. Meanwhile, the Astros are striving to become just the fourth team to win the World Series after losing the first two games of the series at home.
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The Nationals were devastated by neck spasms forced Max Scherzer to be scratched from his Game 5 start the day of the game. However, it has a chance to work out for them in the end because Scherzer is feeling better and set to start Game 7. He was actually warming up in the bullpen in Game 6 but wasn’t used, leaving the door open for him to start Game 7. Thus far in the postseason, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA over four starts and one relief appearance. That includes his Game 1 start when he allowed two runs in the first inning but shut down the Astros after that, tossing five innings and striking out seven.
Meanwhile, the Astros will send Zack Greinke to the mound. Most people thought that when the Astros traded for Greinke that he would put them over the top and secure another world championship for them. One way or another, we’re going to find out if that’s true. Of course, Greinke is 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA over his four playoff starts. He’s only completed five innings once in those four starts. In Game 3 against the Nationals, he allowed just one run on seven hits but left the game with two outs in the fifth inning, so the Astros may not be expecting too much from him in Game 7.
The X-factor in Game 7 could be the fact that it’ll be all hands on deck coming out of the bullpen. The Nationals are obviously hoping for the best out of Scherzer, but they might need some help getting to Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson in the late innings. The good news is that starters Anibal Sanchez and Patrick Corbin will be available to fill in the gaps in the middle innings, limiting how much they need the rest of their bullpen. Meanwhile, the Astros might have the services of Gerrit Cole, who has had two days of rest since starting Game 5 and has been brilliant throughout the postseason. Jose Urquidy might also be an option after tossing five shutout innings in Game 4. Those two could help the Astros form a bridge from Greinke to closer Roberto Osuna, who has made just one appearance in the series thus far.
With the road team winning all six games in this series, it’s been as unpredictable as any World Series in recent memory. But the Astros have been the best team in baseball for a majority of the season and they remain the favorite to take home the 2019 World Series. Given Scherzer’s health, he’s a massive wild card for Game 7 while Cole lurks in Houston’s bullpen as a secret weapon. With the Nationals finding their hitting groove in Game 6 in a hitter-friendly park, this game is bound to produce some runs. However, the Astros have more depth and more game-changers in their lineup. Houston wins 8-5.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.