The World Series has turned out to be an interesting one after all. After dropping two at home, the Astros have rallied to take the next two on the road. The proceedings will return to Houston before it’s all settled. If the “home team never wins” pattern holds, we’re headed for a Nationals victory in seven games. I suspect that a home team will win before all is said and done.
Game 5 was going to be a return to the starting pitching titan vs. starting pitching titan pattern from the first couple of games of the series, with Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer on turn to square off once again. However, with hours to go until the game, the Nationals scratched Scherzer from the Sunday night start due to neck and back spasms.
To paraphrase George III from Hamilton, there’s no one left on that pitching staff who looms quite as large. The Nationals have yet to lose a game this postseason in which Scherzer pitched.
It’s Joe Ross plugged in as the emergency starter instead, and Anibal Sanchez is reportedly available in relief. In general, any scenario that might require more Nationals relievers to pitch is not a good one. Scherzer is hoped to be available for Game 7, but the Nats have to win one of the next two to get there.
Cole is about to get paid after a potential Cy Young campaign where he struck out 326 batters in 212 innings in the regular season, posted a 2.50 ERA in the year of the juiced ball, and was the winning pitcher in 20 games to boot. That’s good.
Trends and patterns from the regular season are interesting, though in some ways they’re all thrown out the window now. Any great pitcher can have a bad game in the postseason. Any underwhelming hitter can suddenly be the guy who is on fire on the way to a World Series MVP award. If the first four games are any indication, this is going to be an exciting game.
Game 5, like the others in the series, will air at 8pm Eastern on Fox.
- George Springer - CF
- Jose Altuve - 2B
- Michael Brantley - RF
- Alex Bregman - 3B
- Yuli Gurriel - 1B
- Yordan Alvarez - LF
- Carlos Correa - SS
- Martin Maldonado - C
- Gerrit Cole - P
The other Astros catcher, Robinson Chirinos, has homered in each of the last two games. It seems that Maldonado is the personal catcher for Cole. If that works, no harm in sticking with it. Alvarez appears in the starting lineup in the NL park even though there’s no DH. As former Orioles manager Buck Showalter liked to say, the ball will find him.
- Trea Turner - SS
- Adam Eaton - RF
- Anthony Rendon - 3B
- Juan Soto - LF
- Howie Kendrick - 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman - 1B
- Victor Robles - CF
- Yan Gomes - C
- Joe Ross - P
If the Nationals lose the World Series, the absence of Scherzer in the game where one team or the other will take a 3-2 lead is the sort of thing that will haunt them. Of course, since baseball is weird, they could blister the Astros for a ton of runs in this game and it won’t even matter.