World Series Play One – Open Thread 2021

 World Series Play One – Open Thread 2021

World Series


Morry Gash/Associated Press

The two World Series participants need their Game 2 starting pitchers to turn in solid outings. 

Atlanta and Houston had to dip into their respective bullpens early in Game 1 for different reasons. Houston replaced Framber Valdez after he was shelled by Atlanta’s bats, while Charlie Morton left the contest with a broken leg. 

The relief pitchers from both teams stabilized the game. Three of the eight runs plated in Game 1 occurred after the third inning. 

Max Fried and Jose Urquidy will be tasked with going at least five innings each in order for both teams to preserve some bullpen arms for later in the series when they may need them more. 

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Pitching Preview

Max Fried vs. Jose Urquidy

Fried started off the postseason with a pair of strong starts against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The Atlanta southpaw lasted six innings in both appearances and he only conceded two earned runs, both of which were let up against the Dodgers in NLCS Game 1. 

Fried looked more vulnerable in NLCS Game 5. The Dodgers chased Fried in the fifth inning after he allowed five earned runs on eight hits. 

The 27-year-old’s last postseason start is more of an outlier compared to his overall pitching form. He pitched at least six innings in each of his 11 appearances in August and September. 

Atlanta is banking on Fried to return to his second half form in Game 2 to reset its bullpen approach. 

A.J. Minter is likely unavailable in relief after he pitched 2.2 innings of relief after Morton unexpectedly left the contest. 

Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek both pitched over an inning to bridge the gap to closer Will Smith. Atlanta will use Jackson and Matzek again in Game 2, but it would be ideal to have each hurler pitch a single inning. 

If Fried gives Atlanta five or six solid innings, the National League winner can call on Jackson, Matzek and Smith to finish off the game in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. 

Houston is hoping to follow a similar strategy with its bullpen behind Urquidy, but it seems less likely since Fried is in better form.

Urquidy was rocked by the Boston Red Sox in his lone postseason appearance. He allowed five earned runs on five hits in 1.2 innings in ALCS Game 3. 

The good news for Houston is that Urquidy has a fresh arm and that could allow him to stretch out a start if he pitches well. 

Urquidy has made it out of the fifth inning in two of his five postseason starts. One of those outings came in the 2019 World Series. He pitched five scoreless frames in Game 4 of that series against the Washington Nationals. 

Urquidy is more susceptible to a high run concession this time around. He let up at least two earned runs in five of his final six starts and he is going up against an Atlanta lineup that thrives off the home run. 

If the Astros go to the bullpen early, Jake Odorizzi likely will not pitch after he turned in 2.1 innings of work in Game 1. 

Houston could turn to Cristian Javier or Zack Greinke to shut down Atlanta’s lineup before its high-leverage relievers take the mound in the sixth inning and beyond. 

A short outing from Urquidy could affect Houston’s Game 4 pitching plans. Javier and Greinke are the likeliest candidates to start that contest. Luis Garcia will throw in Game 3. 

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Predictions

Fried Outlasts Urquidy

This is not necessarily a bold prediction, but it makes sense if Fried lasts longer than Urquidy. 

Fried’s last appearance is an exception to his overall pitching numbers and he should have enough in him to limit Houston’s offense for five innings. 

Houston’s top five hitters combined to go 6-for-20 at the plate in Game 1. That number would look even worse if you took out Michael Brantley’s three hits. 

Fried should take advantage of the slumping Houston hitters to get into a rhythm in the first few innings. 

Even if Fried struggles a bit, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker could have a longer leash with him because of the designated hitter in an AL park and the bullpen’s high usage in Game 1. 

Atlanta comes into Game 2 with the hotter lineup and that may be a problem for Urquidy. Jorge Soler, Ozzie Albies and Eddie Rosario all collected two hits in Tuesday’s opener. 

Astros manager Dusty Baker may be inclined to make a call to the bullpen quicker than his counterpart because Javier and Greinke are waiting in reserves. 

It is not the most ideal strategy, but Houston needs to limit the damage of the Atlanta bats to avoid going down two games. 

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Eddie Rosario Feasts on Houston Pitching

Rosario’s bat did not cool off during the layoff between the NLCS and the World Series. 

The Atlanta outfielder picked up a pair of hits in Game 1 and he will be used as the tone-setter for the offense in Game 2.

Rosario is expected to bat in the leadoff spot with a right-handed starter on the mound. Soler was assigned that job against the left-handed Valdez. 

Rosario is 20-for-43 in the postseason and he enters Game 2 with four consecutive multi-hit games. 

The left-handed hitter could be the catalyst for the Atlanta offense and one of the reasons why Houston goes to the bullpen early.

Rosario has a 1.311 postseason OPS against right-handed pitchers. He had significantly better splits against righties in the regular season as well. His OPS was 127 points higher against right-handed pitchers that lefties. 

     

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.

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