The World Series is here
The Atlanta Braves hadn’t been to a World Series since 1999 and haven’t won one since 1995.
This will be the Houston Astros third World Series appearance in five years and the Texas team is looking for its second title in that span.
Braves vs. Astros for the 2021 World Series title begins Tuesday night in Houston with Game 1. Game 2 will also be in Houston, while Games 3-5 will switch to Atlanta. If needed, Games 6-7 will be back in Houston.
Atlanta, which lost its best player, Ronald Acuna Jr., to a serous knee injury midway through the season, has regrouped after a slow start and comes into the Series red hot.
Houston, whose World Series title in 2017 is tarnished because the team was found guilty of stealing signals, is back to prove they can still win.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each league champion to get you ready for the series.
How the Braves got here: Atlanta won the National League East, which happened to be the weakest division in baseball this year. They then upset both the Central division champion Milwaukee Brewers and the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs.
5 Hitters to Watch: 1B Freddie Freeman, 2B Ozzie Albies, 3B Austin Riley, LF: Eddie Rosario, CF Adam Duvall.
Freeman, the team leader, hit .300 with 31 home runs in the regular season and has a .294 avg., with three home runs in the postseason. … Riley was a pleasant surprise for the team this year. He batted .303 with 33 home runs during the season and hit two home runs and had two walk-off hits in the playoffs. …Rosario is the man who has carried the Braves through the playoffs. He tied a record with 14 hits in the playoffs and batted .474 with three home runs.
Starting Pitcher Rotation: Charlie Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson.
Morton at 37 becomes the oldest pitcher to start Game 1 of the World Series since Roger Clemons did so at 43 in 2005. He was 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA during the season, but is 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA in the playoffs. Fried (14-7, 3.04/1-1 3.78 playoffs) and Anderson (9-5, 3.58/1-0, 3.04) are two good young hurlers who have shown they can win big games.
X Factor/Big Question: Duvall, Joc Pederson and Jorge Solar were all brought in before the trade deadline to try to make up for the loss of Acuna Jr. The three helped turn the Braves from a below .500 team into the NL East Champions. Now can that trio help them to a World Series title?
How the Astros got here: Houston won the AL West Division, one of the best division in baseball, then beat the AL Central Champion Chicago White Sox and the wild-card Boston Red Sox in the playoffs.
5 Hitters to Watch: 1B Yulio Gurriel, 2b Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bergman, SS Carlos Correa, LF Yordan Alvarez.
Gurriel, Altuve, Bergman and Correa are the Astros “Fab Four’’. They have been together since the team began its run of five straight league championship appearances and the will be their third World Series together. Alvarez is the hottest hitter, however. He’;s batting .441 in the playoffs and went 9-for-13 in the last three wins over Boston in the ALCS. As a team, Houston has scored 67 runs in its 10 playoff games and 45 of those runs have come with two outs.
Starting Pitcher Rotation: Frambler Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy.
Houston was dealt a huge blow when its ace pitcher Lance McCullers went down with an injury in the playoffs and all be out for the Series. Valdez (11-6, 3.14/1-0, 4.20) gets the Game 1 start and will be followed by Garcia (11-8, 3.48/1-1, 9.64) in Game 2. Urquidy (8-3, 3.62) who was shelled in his only playoff game, is likely the Game 3 starter.
X Factor/Big Question: Houston manager Dusty Baker, who turned 72 this season, has taken five different teams — San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington and Houston — to the playoffs. He’s still looking for his World Series title. He came close with San Francisco in 2002 but lost a seven-game series to the Angels. Is this the year he finally gets one?
Odds: Houston has been installed as the favorite at -145. Atlanta is +125.