The World Series field is set, with the Houston Astros taking on the Atlanta Braves beginning on Tuesday. It wasn’t a widely predicted matchup, but there are interesting storylines to watch as the two teams duke it out to be champions.
Pitching wins championships?
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ loss in six games to the Braves has been attributed to the strain on their starting pitching staff. Max Scherzer couldn’t pitch Game 6 after being too fatigued following a relief experience, then Walker Buehler didn’t throw well on short rest. Both teams are trying to avoid the same happening to them, but neither is at full strength right now. The Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. has been out since the ALDS with a forearm strain and is doubtful to be healthy enough to pitch again this season. Atlanta’s ace, Max Fried, looked awful in his last start against the Dodgers. Fatigue is always a factor this late in the season, but both of these teams may be leaning especially hard on their hitters to win games given the state of their starting rotations.
Stars on offense
While their starting rotations don’t have a Scherzer-like starter, both teams have plenty of offensive stars. Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman won the National League MVP award last season. Outfielder Joc Pederson isn’t on the same level, but he’s hitting well enough to make it another Joctober, and his insistence on wearing a pearl necklace during games is strange and endearing. Yankee fans aren’t too fond of Houston’s José Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman, but it’s undeniable that they’re a few of the best hitters in baseball. Plus, Correa could be giving a preview of what he’d provide in pinstripes if the Yankees sign him as a free agent this offseason.
Freddie Freeman’s last games in ATL?
Atlanta’s star first baseman is going to be a free agent once the World Series ends. It’s a bit surprising that the Atlanta front office let him reach this point at all without giving him an extension, but based on his public comments about wanting to return and his importance to the franchise, it would be shocking to see him in another uniform in 2022 (especially if he leads the team to it’s first championship since 1995). Still, stranger things have happened. These last few games could be Freeman’s finale for the Braves.
Old school managers looking for rings
Though teams like the Yankees have moved towards younger, less experienced managers, the two pennant winners are led by the 72-year-old Dusty Baker and 66-year-old Brian Snitker. Both have been around professional baseball for decades. Whether their experience is part of what’s brought their teams to the brink of the world championship is up for debate, but Snitker’s quest for his first ring and Baker’s first since 1981 is worth following. Both are by all accounts nice people, so seeing either’s career capped will be a feel-good moment.
Snitker vs Snitker
Speaking of the Braves’ skipper, it’s less known that he’ll be managing against family. His son, Troy Snitker, is a hitting coach for the Astros. Brian will have to make the Astros hitters like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa look human in order to win. At any rate, someone is going to have more bragging rights when Thanksgiving rolls around.