By Steven Urena
World Series – Braves vs. Astros
Eleven teams won more games than the Braves during the regular season. Eleven! The Braves had the 12th most wins out of 30 teams in the MLB. Seems nuts but that doesn’t matter now. The Braves finished the season red hot and knocked off a 95 win Brewers team and a 106 win Dodgers team. They earned the right to be in the dance. If you’re a Braves fan, you gotta be a little sour that teams with Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff and David Justice only have one World Series title to show for all that talent. As a pose to the 90’s, the 2021 Braves do not come in the favorite but rather the underdog. That’s just how the Braves like it.
Growing up a Dodgers fan was not easy in the 90’s. They had good players but constantly underachieved. I hated the Braves because they had great teams and beat up on everyone. I hated the Yankees because they were always winning the World Series or in the World Series. I also hated our bitter rivals, The Giants, who won 3 World Series titles in 5 years. Through all that hatred and frustration, no one has come close to the Astros. I’ve never seen 29 fan bases absolutely hate one club and it’s players. The Astros are using that hate as fuel to return back to the World Series and prove that although they cheated, they still have an awful lot to prove to themselves. They want nothing more than to put this behind them and hang a banner that they earned.
How did the Braves get here?
Key acquisitions at the end of the season. Eddie Rosario is the secret weapon. He’s been wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers. Joc Pederson has proved why his nickname is “Joctober” with key home runs. Adam Duvall was having a great year with the Marlins and went from rags to riches. The Braves traded for him because of his power and now he gets to play for a world championship.
Let’s not forget the Braves core. Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies put up good numbers this season and are dangerous in the playoffs. The Braves 3 starters are among the best in the league. Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson give them a chance to win every night. Tyler Matzek found new life with the Braves after having the “yips.” Will Smith isn’t flashy but he hits spots and mixes it up just good enough to save games.
How did the Astros get here?
Their hitting. Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are a pitcher’s worst nightmare. And they are clicking at the right time! These guys don’t strike out, hit home runs and have a chip the size of a trash can on their shoulders. The ball flies at Minute Made Park in Houston. They can change the game in a minute. Believe me, you don’t want to be in a close game with these guys.
The Astros pitching is suspect but that’s almost a good thing. They don’t need one or two heroes. They just need to keep games close enough for their offense to come up with big hits. The Astros lost Lance McCullers Jr and that’s a huge blow. That just means their staff will do what they’ve done all year. Survive and advance.
The Braves win the World Series if…
Eddie Rosario keeps on raking. Rosario is either hitting home runs, spraying the ball all over the field or drawing walks. He’s the straw that stirs the drink. The Braves need their 3 dawgs (Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton) to go 5 or 6 innings and not allow more than 2 runs. If they can get that ball to Tyler Matzek and Will Smith with a lead, they have a chance.
The Astros win the World Series if…
Their pitching staff competes. Without Lance McCullers Jr. the Astors will have a serious void to fill. Framber Vazquez, Luis Garcia and Zack Greinke need to make quality starts. Their potent offense will keep them in it but the Astros can’t score 10 runs a game all series.
The Braves lose the World Series if…
Their starting pitching gets shelled. If Houston’s offense is firing on all cylinders, good luck. They will pound the Braves staff into the ground, especially at home. The Braves staff is good but they have shown signs of weakness. The Astros will be the best lineup they see all season.
The Astros lose the World Series if…
Their pitching staff crumbles and the Braves play outstanding. The Braves have it in them but it comes down to the Astros pitching staff. Can they hold off the Braves and win the close games or will Eddie Rosario and company be too much?
The Braves have better pitching and the Astros have better hitting. The Braves hitting is better than the Astros pitching though. The Braves are a good hitting team. The Astros pitching staff is decent. The Braves are hot and riding the high of being in the World Series. The Astros have experience and focused intensity. It’s going to be a great series. Both teams will trade haymakers and leave their share of blood on the floor.
The Astros are going to blow the Braves out at least twice. The Braves staff is going to shut the door and win a few close games. Both teams will have an ugly win and a bad loss. Home field advantage will play a role in this series.
Houston Astros in 7.
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