Washington Nationals: 3 keys to winning 2019 World Series
Bullpen has to be lights out
As I noted, the first point is a no-brainer and is expected, but these next keys are big question marks going into the World Series.
Both teams have had their bullpen struggles in the postseason with the Nats carrying a bullpen ERA of 4.76 into the World Series and the Astros are sitting at 4.08.
Right now there are only two arms coming out of the bullpen that the Washington Nationals can trust — Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson.
They’ve both pitched in six games in the postseason and Doolittle has given up just 2 earned runs on 4 hits and no walks with 6 strikeouts.
Hudson has given up 4 hits and issued 3 walks, but he’s yet to give up a run this postseason (knock on wood) in 5.2 innings with 5 strikeouts.
Those two have to continue and be lights out for the Washington Nationals in the postseason.
But beyond that, they need at least one other bullpen arm to step up.
Tanner Rainey has been solid at times, and Fernando Rodney always makes things interesting but has yet to give up a run in 2.2 postseason innings with 5 strikeouts.
I don’t think Hunter Strickland can be trusted at all right now in a high-leverage situation having already given up 3 home runs this postseason.
If the Washington Nationals are going to win this World Series, they’re going to need Doolittle and Hudson to continue what they’ve been doing, and they’re going to need Rainey and/or Rodney to come up with some big outs as well.
As great as the Nats starters are, you have to figure the Astros lineup is going to put more stress on them than the Cardinals, so we’ll likely need someone out of the bullpen to bridge the gap in the sixth and seventh innings — hopefully with a lead.
And after Game 4, you can likely throw Corbin and/or Sanchez into the bullpen mix since they probably won’t be needed to start again.
This series has that feeling that it could come down to the last few innings of games, and whichever bullpen gets the job done will secure the World Series for their team.