World Se­ries throw-down: Astros, Nats rely on ro­ta­tions

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

Now this is a se­ri­ous World Se­ries throw­down. Ger­rit Cole, Justin Ver­lan­der and Zack Greinke vs. Max Scherzer, Stephen Stras­burg and Pa­trick Corbin — all of them All-Star starters, still pitch­ing at their peak.

It’s a mound meet­ing that ev­ery fan can en­joy, the Houston Astros against the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als. Cap­i­tal hill, in­deed.

“We’ve got the best pitcher in the world go­ing. And then af­ter that, we’ve got the best pitcher in the world go­ing, too. And then af­ter that, we’ve got the best pitcher in the world go­ing, too,” Astros third base­man Alex Breg­man said. “It’s go­ing to be a lot of fun.”

Breg­man and fel­low MVP can­di­date An­thony Ren­don cer­tainly did their parts to make this the Year of the Home Run. And Jose Al­tuve lit up Minute Maid Park with his walkoff homer to beat the Yankees in the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

But the fo­cus of this Fall Clas­sic is right on the ro­ta­tions. Houston opened as a 2-1 fa­vorite at the Las Ve­gas sports­books.

Cole is set to throw the first pitch on Tues­day night in Houston. He led the ma­jors with 326 strike­outs, was sec­ond to Ver­lan­der in the big leagues with 20 wins and topped the AL with a 2.50 ERA.

He also is 19-0 in his last 25 starts. That in­cludes 3-0 in the play­offs so far, al­low­ing one earned run in 22 2/3 in­nings while fan­ning 32.

Cole was ac­quired by the Astros a few months af­ter they won the 2017 World Se­ries. He has fit in fine with his Houston team­mates and also has got­ten ac­quainted with some of the Wash­ing­ton aces — the teams share the Ball­park of the Palm Beaches spring train­ing com­plex in Florida.

“I know a few guys in their ro­ta­tion, and I’m per­son­ally ex­cited that they’re in this po­si­tion, and I’m just very ex­cited to get in there,” Cole said late Satur­day night.

“They’ve worked their tails off. I know a lot of the guys on the team, and I know how they pre­pare,” he said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge.”

Like when he faces Wash­ing­ton’s big bop­per.

“An­thony Ren­don is one of the great­est hit­ters in the game right now,” Cole said. “There’s no real way to get him out. You just kind of hope that he misses some balls or he scorches them right at your guys, I guess.

“I’ve been watch­ing him since I was in col­lege. It’s very unique what he’s been able to do and he’s just a plea­sure to watch play.”

The clubs saw each other back in Fe­bru­ary when they played in the ex­hi­bi­tion opener, and Scherzer gave up a homer to the first bat­ter of the game.

Now, eight months later, they meet for real. The 107-win Astros try­ing to cap­ture their sec­ond crown in three years, the wild-card Na­tion­als mak­ing their Se­ries de­but.

“The World Se­ries comes through Houston. I like the sound of that. I think it should be that way for many years to come,” Breg­man said.

No slight to Breg­man and other big hit­ters here: Al­tuve, the ALCS MVP, post­sea­son star Ge­orge Springer and top short­stops Trea Turner and Car­los Cor­rea. And not to over­look the young stars on this stage for the first time, rook­ies like Juan Soto and Yor­dan Al­varez.

Yet in an era when teams search for new pitch­ing strate­gies — wit­ness the Astros’ pa­rade of re­liev­ers in Game 6 of the ALCS — the two clubs left fig­ure to rely heav­ily on their starters.

Fine by Houston man­ager AJ Hinch.

“Philo­soph­i­cally, whether it’s about the new-age opener or pulling guys third time through, most of the peo­ple that sup­port that haven’t had Ver­lan­der or Cole on their team,” he said.

The Na­tion­als stack up just fine, too. Con­sider their staff in­cludes Ani­bal Sanchez, who took a play­off no-hit bid into the eighth in­ning. (AP)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.