The 2019 World Series matchup is set with the Washington Nationals set to face the Houston Astros.
Washington will come into the Fall Classic well-rested after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals' last game was on Oct. 15, giving manager Dave Martinez six days to line up his pitching rotation however he wants.
Houston is back in the World Series for the second time in three years. The American League champions have been tested this postseason, needing all five games to get past the Tampa Bay Rays in the division series and six games to put away the New York Yankees in the championship series.
No one should feel sorry for the Astros after they led MLB with 107 wins during the regular season and will have Gerrit Cole ready to start Game 1 against Washington.
2019 World Series Schedule
Game 1 (Tuesday, Oct. 22): Washington Nationals at Houston Astros, 8:08 p.m. ET
Game 2 (Wednesday, Oct. 23): Washington Nationals at Houston Astros, 8:07 p.m. ET
Game 3 (Friday, Oct. 25): Houston Astros at Washington Nationals, 8:07 p.m. ET
Game 4 (Saturday, Oct. 26): Houston Astros at Washington Nationals, 8:07 p.m. ET
Game 5 (Sunday, Oct. 27): Houston Astros at Washington Nationals, 8:07 p.m. ET
Game 6 (Tuesday, Oct. 29): Washington Nationals at Houston Astros, 8:07 p.m. ET
Game 7 (Wednesday, Oct. 30): Washington Nationals at Houston Astros, 8:08 p.m. ET
*All games broadcast on Fox
World Series Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Washington Nationals (+170, bet $100 to win $170)
Houston Astros (-150)
On the surface, Washington's regular-season record (93-69) doesn't stand out compared to an Astros team that has won more than 100 games in three consecutive seasons.
Digging deeper into how the Nationals arrived at this moment, though, indicates they are playing right on par with the AL champions.
Since hitting rock bottom with a 19-31 record after a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets on May 23, the Nationals played at the same pace as the Los Angeles Dodgers:
That offense has carried over its performance to the postseason, something that can't be said about the three other teams that advanced to the league championship series:
It is worth pointing out Washington's lineup will face a pitching staff in the World Series better than it saw in the NLCS against the Cardinals.
St. Louis had to hold its best starter until Game 3 of the NLCS because Jack Flaherty was used in the fifth game of the NLDS.
The Astros will be able to use Justin Verlander and Cole four times if the World Series goes seven games. Zack Greinke has been inconsistent in the postseason, but he was able to limit the Yankees to one run over 4.1 innings in Game 4 of the ALCS.
Of course, Washington can counter with an excellent pitching staff of its own. The trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin have been as good as any rotation this postseason.
The Nationals need those three to be on top of their game because the soft underbelly of their pitching staff is in the bullpen. They had the worst relievers ERA in MLB during the regular season (5.66).
Martinez has tried to combat those issues by using Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin in relief on days they would normally throw a side session to prepare for an upcoming start. It hasn't always worked, like when Corbin was charged with six runs on four hits and two walks in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Given the limited number of relievers Washington can trust in a key spot, the Astros have a significant edge in the later innings.
The Astros have more depth overall than the Nationals. Pitching can be the great equalizer in a short playoff series, but looking at the matchup right now, the Commissioner's Trophy will remain in the American League.
Prediction: Astros defeat Nationals in seven games