Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros
The Houston Astros will take on the Atlanta Braves in the 117th World Series. The Astros will be in their third World Series over the last five years, while the Braves are in the World Series for the first time since 1999. The Braves took down the favorites of the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta has spent the entire postseason as the underdog and this will not change.
The Astros have the advantage over basically any team in baseball. Houston led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and hits. Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are the new faces of the Astros offense. Alvarez has been the star of the playoffs, hitting .441, with a .791 slug. Altuve doesn’t have the flashiest numbers, but has scored 15 runs in ten playoff games. Houston will likely have to sit Michael Brantley during their trips to Atlanta, unless they trust him or Tucker to handle center field. With Alvarez in the outfield the Astros will have to deal with a very large outfield in Truist Park, the fifth largest outfield in baseball. Even in a national league park the Astros will still be able to put pressure on any pitching staff. This lineup is just too loaded.
The Braves made a big push at the deadline to improve their outfield. Adding Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario to a lineup that featured mainstays Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. Austin Riley has been the league’s most improved player in 2022, his progression was what kept the Braves in the hunt at the deadline. The Braves have a lot of power, their lineup doesn’t have the major star power that the Astros have outside of Freddie Freeman. Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall were quietly at the top of most offensive categories The Braves can match the Houston star power with the great depth in the lineup and off the bench.
These playoffs have seen the advantage of having a strong starting rotation. The Braves and Astros have both seen the most production from their starters during the playoffs. The Astros have overcome the injury to Lance McCullers because of the production from Framber Valdez. Valdez is effective versus power right handed bats because of his breaking ball. The Astros will need to rely on Luis Garcia again in this series. He came up huge for Houston in game 6 of the ALCS, going 5+ giving up no runs and sealing the series for Houston. Valdez and Garcia will have to eat up innings for Houston, veteran Zach Grienke is still a major question mark and they likely will not travel down the Jake Odorizzi path again in this series. If Houston can get dominance from their top two starters they can utilize a solid bullpen to hold down the powerful Braves lineup.
The Atlanta rotation isn’t deep but it’s top three gives them an advantage over Houston, they currently have the best starter 3.27 ERA in the playoffs. Ian Anderson has to step up and be better than the Astros questionable potential starters. Anderson will be slotted in the #3 role which means he will get the start in Atlanta, where he has much better numbers, holding opposing lineups to just a .207 BA against. The Braves will likely put together a bullpen game for game four. While Atlanta has some things to figure out after their top three, they still have the advantage in nearly every other matchup in this series.
The Astros have a system to get through their questionable rotation. They want to get five innings in order to turn it over to their four bullpen arms Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly. Houston has relied on this system through the American League playoffs. The Stros have gotten a lot of swings and misses from opposing batters. They are a heavy right handed bullpen which could end up being a problem against the power lefty bats of the Braves. Houston may have the best overall reliever in this series in closer Ryan Pressly.
The Braves got a lot out of their bullpen in the playoffs. AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith have all been great in the playoffs. Smith most notably has recouped from a tough stretch towards the end of the season. In the postseason Will Smith has been dominant, picking up four saves and giving up no runs over his seven inning pitched. The Braves have seen cracks in Luke Jackson, their righty reliever that had a breakout 2022. He gave up 5 runs in the NLCS and may need to be used sparingly in the World Series. Luckily for Atlanta, they have veteran Jesse Chavez who can step up and handle the role of righty shutdown reliever.
I loved the Braves over the Brewers, I thought they could compete with the Dodgers. I think they have enough to take down the favorite Houston Astros. The loss of Lance Mccullers was able to be masked in their series with the Boston Red Sox. The Braves bring better pitching to this series and an offense that can match the Astros. The Astros look of invincibility at home took a hit after their game two loss to Boston. Veteran Charlie Morton and an experienced Atlanta offense will get them a victory in game one and a victory in the series.
Pick: Atlanta Braves in 6