During the offseason, one of baseball’s most prolific personalities Bryce Harper said, “we want to bring a title back to DC.” Harper famously said that, of course, after he left the Washington Nationals and signed with division rival Philadelphia. Harper simply misspoke, something we’ve all done, but Harper may have actually predicted the future for his former team that just clinched the National League pennant just hours before Harper’s birthday. The Nationals absolutely smacked the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), sweeping them in four games.
There isn’t enough that can be said about the Nationals’ starting pitching rotation that has just absolutely set the world on fire this postseason. It seems like everything is clicking for the Nationals at the right time and the pieces are all falling into place in what is essentially a revenge season for them after Harper ditched and went to their rival team. In the clinching game that sent the Nationals to the World Series, they came out firing, putting up seven runs in the first inning and taking Dakota Hudson out of the game after only recording one out and giving up all seven runs on only 15 pitches. The Nationals now have time to rest and prepare for the World Series, watching the Yankees and Astros wrap up their series in the American League Championship Series (ALCS). There is always a concern as to whether the rest could cause the players to get rusty, but you have to imagine professional athletes, the coaching staff and trainers know how to maintain the status they are in, with just about a week off.
In the American League, the Houston Astros punched their ticket to the World Series for the second time in three years when second baseman Jose Altuve launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Astros over the New York Yankees, as they will now match up against the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Fall Classic. With Houston jumping out to a quick 3-1 series lead, the Yankees found life in game five when they defeated Houston in New York, making the series 3-2. On Saturday, Oct. 19, the Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Yankees in the first inning. The Yankees entered the ninth inning trailing 4-2 until second baseman DJ LeMahieu launched a two-run home run to knot the game up at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. At that point, Altuve was able to connect on a pitch from Yankees’ pitcher Aroldis Chapman to give the Astros the game six win, ending the series 4-2. With the Yankees eliminated, this will be the first time the Yankees went a decade without a World Series appearance since the 1910s.
We now turn our focus to the beginning of the World Series that will start Tuesday, Oct. 22, in Houston as the Astros and Nationals will face off for the 2019 World Series. The pitching rotations have not yet been announced by either team but it is almost certain that the first two starters on the mound for the Nationals will be Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer while the Astros will pitch Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. No matter which matchup ends up being on display, we can anticipate games one and two to be pitching duels that will go deep into the bullpen. The Astros came into the postseason as heavy favorites to come out of the American League, while the Nationals have been the gritty underdog that has shocked the baseball world in the first two series. The 2019 World Series will likely be a memorable clash.