Major League Baseball

World Series preview: Astros and Braves are the last team's standings by Andres Chavez

World Series preview: Astros and Braves are the last team's standings

Oct 26

World Series preview: Astros and Braves are the last team's standings

After two long, hard Championship Series, the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves secured their ticket to the World Series. Two good teams were left to bite the dust: the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, both with identical 4-2 results.

It’s safe to say that neither team was considered a World Series favorite to begin the year: the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox entered the season as the American League’s strongest candidates, while the Dodgers (and, as the season went on, the San Francisco Giants) had the best odds in the National League.

At first glance, it will be a very close, hotly contested matchup between two excellent clubs. The Astros scored 33 runs in the six games played against the Red Sox, for a solid 5.5 average. They have the best offense in baseball, led by ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522/.538/.870, a home run and six RBI) and boasting the likes of Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, and Kyle Tucker.

Pitching may be the Astros’ kryptonite, but they have some solid arms in Framber Valdez (who twirled eight innings of one-run ball on Game 5) and Luis Garcia, the winner of the last contest against Boston. They have one crucial injury, though: ace Lance McCullers still isn’t throwing and doesn’t look like a possibility for the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Braves will rely on two aces from the mound: Charlie Morton and Max Fried, and a surprisingly solid bullpen led by closer Will Smith, but also with relief ace Tyler Matzek, who has pitched 10.1 innings in the 2021 postseason, with a 1.74 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

Offensively, there is more than enough thump in the Braves’ lineup to make up for the absence of star Ronald Acuna Jr. Eddie Rosario, the MVP of the NLCS, was a monster against the Dodgers, hitting .560/.607/1.040 with three dingers and nine RBI. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, and Austin Riley are the foundation of a fearsome lineup.

Morton and Valdez will take the ball in Game 1, which will be played on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, in Houston. The Astros will have home-field advantage, which is important as they are a very hard team to beat in front of their fans. Games in Atlanta will likely be torture for Astros’ players, who are constantly reminded about the 2017 sign-stealing scandal whenever they go on the road.

In the end, the 2021 MLB World Series looks like an evenly-matched series against two solid ball clubs that have left behind some really strong teams on their way to the Fall Classic. The Braves’ rotation, which besides Morton and Fried has young stud Ian Anderson, may look a bit better than the Astros’ unit, but Houston has the better lineup and much more recent experience in the postseason: they have gone to three of the last five World Series.

My take: The Braves will steal one of the first two games in Houston, but the Astros will take two out of three in Atlanta. In the end, Houston wins in seven.

Written by Andres Chavez