After losing in the World Series, it turns out the Astros were involved in a dark scandal. Will they be able to put everything behind them and win another title?
Houston has been the talk of the off-season thanks to their sign-stealing scandal. The team used video cameras to steal signs during the 2017 season when the team won the World Series. Teams were also said to have tipped the Nationals off about possible cheating by the Astros too before the World Series last year.
Overall, even with all the controversy surrounding the three year run that saw the Astros win over 100 games every year, go to the World Series twice and win the title in 2017, the Astros still have a depth of talent on their team. They had a .274 team batting average and five players with an OPS above .900.
The biggest difference between this year’s team probably will be pitching. The two best pitchers in the regular season played for the Astros last year in Justin Verlander (2019 AL Cy Young) and Gerrit Cole. Both pitchers threw over 200 innings, struck out 300 or more batters and had 20 or more wins. Cole left in free agency signing with their rivals the New York Yankees. Losing Cole leaves a big gap in a starting rotation that looked weak outside of Verlander and Cole at times during the postseason. And they were the main reason the team had the third best ERA in the league.The bullpen also was weakened severely losing two of their best relievers in Will Harris and Hector Rendon. Harris was effective all year with a 1.50 ERA during the regular season and upped his level during the postseason. He didn’t allow any runs in his first 11 games in the 2019 postseason before giving up a two run homer in game six of th World Series. Then in gave seven, he gave up the game winning home run that finally brought a World Series title to D.C.
Houston Astros 2019 record: 105-57
Washington’s record vs. Houston last season: 4-3 (World Series)
Nationals to Watch:
Stephen Strasburg and Juan Soto were the heroes of the World Series against the Astros. Soto was the team’s best hitter with a .333 batting average and an OPS over 1.000 while leading the team in home runs (3). Strasburg on the other hand just won the 2019 World Series MVP becoming the first starting pitcher since Madison Bumgarner (2014) to win it. Strasburg had a 2.51 ERA during the series and two wins including his 8.1 inning 7 strikeout performance in Houston during Game 6 that saved their season.
Houston struggled hitting Strasburg as they only scored four runs off him. Three of the four runs came from the deep ball. Considering, both teams have majority of the same personnel I see the Astros struggling to hit Strasburg again when the teams meet up this season. The Astros on the other hand are going to have a hard time out pitching the Nationals without Cole. The Nationals starting rotation goes four deep and includes three All-Stars. After, Verlander and Zack Greinke the Astros look to struggle with their starting pitching. This series will all depend on how the rotations lineup over the three games.
2020 Series Breakdown:
July 3-5 in D.C
Houston’s pitching staff took a hit while Nationals brought everyone back. Look to Strasburg to pick up where he left off in the World Series to help the Nats win the season series.
Prediction: Nats win season series 2-1.