Astros and Braves headline this year’s fall classic

It all comes down to this: the Houston Astros taking on the Atlanta Braves with a World Series title on the line. The Astros, who represent the American League, find themselves in familiar territory as the World Series is back in Houston for the third time in the last five years. While the Atlanta Braves, who represent the National League, are back in the fall classic for the first time since 1999. 

On their way to a National League pennant, the Braves clinched the National League East division title, finishing with a record of 88-73. Once in the postseason, the Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers and last year’s champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to get to the World Series. On the other side, the Astros are coming off a season where they won the American League West with a 95-67 record. The Astros defeated the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox in the postseason on their way to the World Series. 

While both teams’ rosters are filled with stars, both teams will also be short a few important players. On the American League side, the Astros will have to face the Braves’ star-studded lineup without their ace, Lance McCullers. McCullers, who hasn’t pitched since game four of the divisional round, will be forced to watch from the dugout as he battles a forearm injury. On the National League side, the Braves lack perennial all-star Ronald Acuna Jr., who has been sidelined since tearing his ACL this past July.

Although both teams won’t be at full strength, players on each team have begun to step up as the postseason has progressed. For Atlanta, it has been a trio of outfielders who have all stepped up to the challenge since Acuna’s absence. The Braves traded for outfielders Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and Eddie Rosario at the trade deadline. All three outfielders have played an integral role in the success of the Braves, but during the postseason, Rosario has been a one-man wrecking crew. In 38 at-bats during the 2021 postseason, Rosario has totaled 18 hits, 11 runs batted in, and hit three timely home runs on his way to winning the National League Championship Series MVP honors.

For the Astros, their offense has done most of the heavy lifting , but it was their starting pitcher who  shut the door on the Red Sox in the last two games of the series. Starters Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia stepped up big time with the absence of McCullers. In game five of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), Valdez pitched eight strong innings, allowing just three hits and one run against a stacked Red Sox lineup. In-game six of the ALCS, Garcia came back from a knee injury he suffered from game two and pitched nearly six innings, while only giving up one hit and zero runs. 

Looking at the match-up, I suspect  the series will be a scrappy one that will extend into at least six games. If the Astros’ pitchers can hold off this deep Braves lineup long enough for the offense to put up some runs, I can see Houston hoisting their second Commissioner’s Trophy in franchise history. However, if the Braves’ offense secures an early lead against the Astros’ young starting pitchers, Atlanta might have a chance of securing their first championship parade since 1995. No matter what, expect a hard-fought battle between two talented teams who are ready to put their past behind them.