The 2022 World Series pits an established power of the last decade against an up-and-coming team led by one of baseball's biggest superstars.
The Houston Astros are back in the Fall Classic for the fourth time since 2017. The Philadelphia Phillies will play in their first World Series since 2009.
Houston is 1-2 in its last three World Series trips, with both of those defeats at the hands of National League East teams. The Washington Nationals beat them in 2019 and the Atlanta Braves took them down in 2021.
Both sides have looked dominant throughout their respective postseason runs, which may make it hard for neutral parties to select a champion.
Houston is 7-0 through two rounds after sweeping the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, while Philadelphia is 7-2 thanks to a 3-1 win over Atlanta in the NLDS and a 4-1 triumph in the NLCS over the San Diego Padres.
The two ball clubs clinched their respective league pennants on Sunday, so they will be on the same amount of rest heading into Friday's Game 1 in Houston.
World Series Schedule
Game 1: Friday, October 28 (Fox)
Game 2: Saturday, October 29 (Fox)
Game 3: Monday, October 31 (Fox)
Game 4: Tuesday, November 1 (Fox)
Game 5: Wednesday, November 2 (Fox)*
Game 6: Friday, November 4 (Fox)*
Game 7: Saturday, November 5 (Fox)*
*-if necessary. All game times to be determined.
The Astros proved during their march through the American League bracket that they are as strong as ever entering the World Series.
Houston has the best pitching depth in Major League Baseball. It has four starters lined up for the World Series, starting with Justin Verlander. Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr. and Cristian Javier should follow in some order in the first four World Series games.
Houston also has Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia, starters in the regular season, to enter any contest as long relievers.
Philadelphia is deep at the top end of its rotation with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The pair of aces should be a terrific counter to Verlander and Valdez in Games 1 and 2.
The Phillies need Ranger Suarez in Game 3 and one of Bailey Falter and Noah Syndergaard in Game 4 to match Houston's output to have the best chance of winning at home.
The National League champion thrived in that specific situation in the NLCS, as Suarez turned in a solid Game 3 performance and the mid-tier bullpen arms strung together solid outings to allow a Game 4 comeback.
Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and the Philadelphia lineup plated 18 runs in Games 3-5 of the NLCS to clinch a World Series berth on home soil. The Phillies lineup now has to deal with a tougher and deeper pitching staff against Houston.
The Astros contained the New York Yankees lineup to nine runs over four games. They limited the Yankees to four runs in the first three ALCS contests. Philadelphia's pitching staff allowed nine runs alone in the last two games of the NLCS.
The margin of error for the Phillies could be slim if the Astros find a way to keep up their pitching dominance from the last round, but if they can find a way to get runs off Houston, the series could swing in their favor.
Houston has some powerful bats of its own in Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman that could counter the big hits from Harper, Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins. Do not underestimate how important Jose Altuve's two hits Sunday could be. Altuve was in a massive slump and could use that performance to turn his postseason around.
The Astros put up 13 runs in two regular-season wins over the Phillies, but that series to end the regular season can't be included in a discussion of how the matchup will play out. Philadelphia won the first game of the series to clinch a playoff berth, and Houston took advantage of the hangover that followed.
Although this is a No. 1 seed facing a No. 6 seed in the World Series, it has the potential to go down as one of the best World Series matchups in a long time because of how many stars are performing at high levels on each side.