Washington turns to Stephen Strasburg to keep its season alive Tuesday in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series.
The right-handed hurler is 4-0 in the 2019 postseason, and the Nationals have a six-game playoff winning streak when he is on the hill.
The Nationals must add to that trend to force the third Game 7 in the last four Fall Classics.
In his three World Series appearances for Houston, Verlander conceded nine earned runs, with four coming in Game 2.
In fact, four of the last five World Series results for the right-hander have been defeats.
Houston is 2-3 this postseason when Verlander starts, but it has lost both potential series-clinching contests he participated in.
The ALDS Game 4 loss to Tampa Bay occurred with the 20-game winner pitching on short rest, while he gave up four runs in a 4-1 ALCS Game 5 defeat to the New York Yankees.
Verlander's overall World Series numbers do not inspire much confidence, either, as he suffered three setbacks with Detroit, two with Houston and his other start garnered a no-decision.
He has been better at home over the last month, with six earned runs given up over 19.2 innings.
The good news for Houston's Game 6 starter is he is facing a Washington offense that produced three runs in a trio of home contests.
If he limits Washington to a run one or two, Will Harris, Joe Smith and Roberto Osuna could come in to finish off the series. In 7.1 World Series innings, the relief trio has given up five hits and zero earned runs.
If Washington's bats wake up in Game 6 and level the series, Houston would likely turn to Zack Greinke to start Game 7.
In that situation, most of the Astros' arms should be available, except for Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It is hard to imagine either of them being used on short rest.
However, AJ Hinch would have Jose Urquidy, who threw five scoreless innings in Game 4, to back up Greinke, plus his full stable of relievers.
Strasburg is the best possible hurler for Washington to throw in an elimination setting.
The former No. 1 overall pick has a 1.34 career playoff ERA, and he has won five of his last six postseason starts. The lone contest without a victory was a no-decision in NLDS Game 5.
In 2019, the right-handed flamethrower has not conceded over three runs in an October outing, and he limited Houston to a pair of runs on seven hits in Game 2.
If he delivers the same pitching efficiency, Washington will at least have an opportunity to snag Game 6 at Minute Maid Park.
We could see Dave Martinez go back to his strategy of using starters as relievers to back up Strasburg Tuesday.
Anibal Sanchez and Patrick Corbin would be the candidates for that, but both could be utilized in Game 7 as well.
Sanchez has an extra day of rest compared to Corbin, so if Martinez is in a bind, he could call on the 35-year-old to pick up a few key outs.
Martinez may hurt his Game 7 plans by throwing starters in the latter innings Tuesday, but he has to do whatever it takes just to get to Wednesday.
Since his relievers have let up 10 of Houston's 26 runs, there may be a lack of trust in Francisco Rodney, Wander Suero and others.
Washington's wild-card is Max Scherzer's status. MLB.com's Jamal Collier noted the ace could pitch in relief, or start, Game 7 if his neck spasms improve.
Scherzer has won his last three playoff starts, and he let up six earned runs over 25 innings during the Nationals' trophy chase.
If Washington gets him back in any capacity, it would be a boost to its chances, but until he is cleared Martinez needs to carve a path to two victories with one less pitcher.
Houston over Washington in 6
Despite Verlander's World Series shortcomings, he has not been gashed for a large number of runs in October.
Even if he concedes two or three times, Houston's hot bats could make up the difference against Strasburg, or Washington's bullpen.
If Game 6 comes down to the final few frames, Houston's relievers garner more trust in shutting down the opponent and handing their offense the opportunity to clinch.
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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference