Monday, October 21, 2019

Joey's Soapbox: My 2019 Not-At-All Biased World Series Pick

I'm either looking at the yummy food in Houston or I'm following the flight of Jose Altuve's home run.

How is everyone doing?  I'm Joey Beartran and like Tony the Tiger, I'm feeling GRRRRRRRREAT!!  And I have Jose Altuve to thank for me being so upbeat.

I had always been a fan of Altuve, mainly because he's the only major leaguer who's my height.  But now, after hitting a walk-off, pennant-winning homer against the Yankees, I love him even more.  His blast allowed me to go 2-for-2 in my League Championship Series predictions, and that's the only reason why I'm this excited today.  Not because the Yankees lose, thaaaaaaaaaa Yankees loooooose.  That would be biased of me, and I'm not at all biased.

Thanks to Altuve's heroics, we now have a World Series that will be anything but boring, with intriguing pitching matchups in practically every game.  The Fall Classic will also feature teams that had combined to win just two pennants prior to this year, which hadn't happened since 1980, when the Philadelphia Phillies (who had previously won pennants in 1915 and 1950) faced the Kansas City Royals (who had never won a pennant).

Will the Washington Nationals win their first championship?  Will the Houston Astros tie the Mets for most titles for teams that played their first game in 1962?  Will the Yankees ever learn how to count past twenty-seven?  The answers to the first two questions will be revealed below.  The answer to third question is no, they will not.

The people who made this shirt should be happy they never have to update it.

World Series

Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros

For the opening act, we have Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole.  Then we have Stephen Strasburg vs. Justin Verlander in Game Two.  And if that's not enough to whet your pitching appetite, it's Patrick Corbin vs. Zack Greinke in Game Three.  How's that for must-see TV?

The Astros batted just .179 against the Yankees in the ALCS, which doesn't bode well for them against the vaunted Nationals staff.  That Nats staff didn't throw a single pitch in the NLCS with the team trailing, as Washington led throughout their four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  That might change in the World Series if Houston continues to jump on top early.  Of the 22 runs scored by the Astros in the ALCS, ten of them crossed the plate in the first three innings.

Washington is a very streaky team.  During their current six-game winning streak, they've outscored the opposition, 33-10.  They also scored 166 runs during a 21-game stretch in late August and early September.  But the Nats can also go cold at the plate, as evidenced by the 61 times this year (58 regular season and three postseason games) they failed to score more than three runs in a game.  By comparison, the Mets scored three runs or fewer in 54 games this season.

If the Nationals could be held in check that many times this year when they didn't face past, present and future Cy Young Award winners every game, imagine what they'll look like against Cole, Verlander and Greinke.

Then there's the case of the bullpens.  Washington's bullpen is such a mess that manager Dave Martinez went with his starters in relief on various occasions to navigate through the playoffs.  Meanwhile, Houston's bullpen was one of the team's many strengths, posting a 3.75 ERA during the regular season.  That's nearly two full runs lower than the Washington's 5.68 ERA for its relievers.  If a game comes down to Altuve and his brothers facing the Nats' relief corps, I'll put my lunch money on Mini-Me and the 'Stros.

I think it's clear who I'm picking to win the World Series.  But if it still isn't obvious to you, please think about this.

The Washington Nationals play their home opener next year on April 2.  Their opponent that day will be the New York Mets.  Do you really want to see them rub their World Series rings in our faces?  I think not.  Let them raise their National League pennant against us in 2020.  For this season, it'll be the Astros who will #TakeItBack.

Prediction: Astros in 6.

Little man on paper.  Big man on campus.  (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

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