The 2021 World Series matchup could be set as soon as Saturday night.
The Houston Astros confirmed their spot in the Fall Classic on Friday night with a win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the ALCS.
Houston used three straight victories to power past the Red Sox. The last two wins were powered by fantastic pitching performances out of Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia.
Atlanta is one NLCS win away from matching up with Houston in the World Series. Atlanta holds a 3-2 edge on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The chances of Atlanta advancing got higher on Friday night when it was revealed that Max Scherzer would not start NLCS Game 6 for the Dodgers.
Atlanta's pitchers still have to tame the Los Angeles bats, but the task of winning one of two games at Truist Park got simpler on paper with that news.
World Series Odds
Houston (-150; bet $150 to win $100)
Atlanta (+225; bet $100 to win $225)
Los Angeles Dodgers (+425)
Early World Series Guide
The World Series will begin Tuesday, but the site of Game 1 is dependent on the NLCS result.
If Atlanta finishes off the Dodgers, it would travel to Houston. If the Dodgers come back, they would host the Astros at Dodger Stadium.
Home-field advantage in the World Series is determined this year by the best regular-season record of the two participants.
If the Dodgers return to the World Series, they would set up a rematch of the 2017 Fall Classic that was won by the Astros in seven games.
Atlanta is searching for its first World Series berth since 1999. It ran into the 1990s New York Yankees dynasty twice in that decade. Atlanta's last championship occurred in 1995.
Atlanta is in better shape to advance out of the NLCS than it was 24 hours ago since it does not have to face Scherzer in Saturday's Game 6.
Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times broke the news on Friday night that Scherzer would not start Game 6. The right-hander has some concerns about arm fatigue.
Los Angeles has Walker Buehler listed as its Game 7 starter, so it may have to utilize a bullpen game strategy to match up with Atlanta's Ian Anderson. Charlie Morton is Atlanta's likely Game 7 starter.
Whichever team emerges from the National League will face a reinvigorated Houston pitching staff.
Valdez and Garcia were torched in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS, but they responded with exact opposite performances to finish off the series.
Valdez threw eight stellar innings in Game 5 at Fenway Park. He would be Houston's likely Game 1 starter since he last pitched on Wednesday.
Garcia did not make it out of the third inning in his two previous playoff starts. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out seven batters in his 5.2 innings of work.
If Houston receives the same output from Valdez and Garcia in the World Series, it will be in great shape to open up an early lead.
Houston's bullpen is one of the best in the majors. Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly conceded one hit and one walk in their 3.1 innings in relief of Garcia.
The Astros still need to fill in the rest of their rotation, but if Valdez and Garcia are pitching at a high level, they can counter either Max Fried or Julio Urias in Game 1 and whichever pitchers come out for Games 2 and 3.
Houston should be favored over Atlanta because of its previous World Series experience and the home-field advantage. Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are still around from the 2017 team.
If the World Series begins at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles should have a slight odds edge over Houston because of its strong lineup and top-tier pitchers.
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