The Fall Classic is finally upon us. Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer faced off in Game 1 last night in the Nationals’ first-ever World Series appearance, while Houston began its quest for a second title in three years. With a pair of top-tier pitching staffs and power-packed lineups, a couple of Daily Campus Sports writers break down and predict who will walk away from the series as champions.
Kevin Arnold: Many people may be quick to take the Astros, who are in the midst of building a dynasty, but I am going to have to ride the hot hand. The Nationals already topped the best team in the National League, thanks to a 10th-inning grand slam off the bat of Howie Kendrick. They breezed their way by the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game sweep to bring the D.C. area its first World Series since the team moved from Montreal. Max Scherzer is in full Mad Max form, Stephen Strasburg is on top of his game (and healthy) and Anthony Rendon may just be the league’s MVP. Oh, and they have yet to lose this postseason when they wear their alternate blue uniforms.
Jorge Eckardt: Want to know why people are so quick to take the Astros? Because they are right. There is really no way you can argue against a staff that has two of the top American League Cy Young candidates. Not only that, but they are essentially a lock to finish No. 1 and No. 2. Who is their No. 3 starter? Just some scrub (and former Cy Young Award winner) by the name of Zack Greinke. That’s just the rotation; the whole pitching staff is one of, if not the best, in the league. The bullpen finished the season with a 3.75 ERA, which was the third-best in the MLB. As for the lineup, well, somehow it is arguably even better than their staff.
George Springer (go UConn) might just be the best leadoff hitter in baseball and is someone who would probably be hitting in the 3-hole in most lineups. Jose Altuve is a man amongst boys, even though it looks the other way around, and has been tearing it up so far in the postseason, most recently hitting a moonshot of a walk-off home run to send the Yankees back home. Alex Bregman is the AL MVP, Michael Brantley is one of the better all-around players in the game, Yordan Alverez is a lock as the AL ROY and the rest of their lineup is still all-around solid. To me, it is foolish to bet against this team, no matter how hot the Nationals may be.
Arnold: Scherzer knows a thing or two about the Cy Young award as a three time winner himself, while Strasburg should finish in the top-3 this year after an impressive 2019. Mad Max will walk into Minute Maid Park with a 2-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in this postseason. In his last 18 innings on the mound, he has struck out 14, allowed just five walks and five hits and a single run. The bullpen has righted the ship in October after an interesting regular season. Tanner Rainey has proven to be a reliable option after striking out three batters without allowing a walk in two NLCS appearances. Sean Doolittle and Daniel “Family Man” Hudson are averaging almost a strikeout per inning, while the latter has yet to allow a run to score.
What about that lineup though? Anthony Rendon doesn’t know the difference between July and October as he hasn’t missed a beat with his 12 hits, seven RBIs and 1.059 OPS. Juan Soto is a power presence in the four-hole with two home runs and as many RBI as Rendon in the playoffs. Howie Kendrick already proved he’s not afraid of the spotlight and 35-year-old Ryan Zimmerman is never far from the action either, posting a .290 average and five RBIs in October. The Nats are hot while the ‘Stros are worn out after a grueling ALCS. Curly W’s in seven.
Eckardt: If part of your argument hinges on the Nationals bullpen, then you’ve already lost. Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the MLB this season knows that despite their recent success, it’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode – well, in their case, implode. Yes, their rotation is also great, and no argument can really be made against Mad Max, he is a stud. But while Strasburg and Corbin are great in their own respects, they don’t stack up to Greinke and Verlander/Cole (whichever one you think is the No. 2). Their lineup of Soto, Rendon, Zimmerman and the bunch is also good. I mean, there is a reason they made it this far, but they simply don’t stack up to what the ‘Stros have cooking. Howie Kendrick has already used up his magic and Gerardo Parra and “Baby Shark” can only take them so far. Let’s be honest, it was more the Dodgers beating themselves in the NLDS than the Nationals beating them, and the Cardinals decided to go full Marlins out of the blue in the NLCS so there was almost no challenge there. The Nats have gotten lucky, but they are going to get a hard slap in the face in the World Series (please ‘Stros, don’t have lost by the time this is published). I just do not see any way that Walgreens comes out of this with a trophy. ‘Stros in four.
Kevin Arnold is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @karnold98.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31