Just as quickly as the Houston Astros were anointed favorites in the 2021 World Series, they lost Game 1 and surrendered home-field advantage. The Astros were lackluster in all areas of the game, and the Braves pounced to score runs early on the way to a ho-hum win that belied the dramatic stage it was played on.
Now what? Will the Astros shake off the defeat and bound back with a victory to reassert their favorite status? Or will Atlanta steal two wins in H-Town?
There are several storylines to watch in Game 2.
World Series Game 2 Pitching Matchup
One thing we’ve learned the last few years is that in the postseason the starting pitcher is less and less important. Teams mix and match, have bullpen games, and protect their starters with load management in October. It’s the time of year when modern starters break down, when managers freak out at the first time of trouble and summon a reliever.
But Game 2 of the ’21 World Series gives us the closest thing to a “workhorse” we have in the game today: Max Fried of the Braves. In each of his last five starts in the postseason, dating back to last year’s NLCS, Fried has pitched into the fifth inning, and four times he’s made it to the sixth.
The Braves have a lockdown bullpen this October, and with Fried on the mound they have the right guy to get to their best relievers in the fifth and sixth, setting them up to be well rested this series. He struggled his last time out against the Dodgers, but Fried is a tall lefty who can give the Houston left-handed hitters like Yordan Álvarez, Michael Brantley, and Kyle Tucker a challenge.
The Astros will cross their fingers and start rookie José Urquidy, who has performed better out of the pen in the postseason so far in his career. The Red Sox hammered him for six runs in 1 2/3 innings in his only playoff appearance this October. He’s thrown just 57 game pitches since October 3. If he’s rusty or anything like he was against Boston, Dusty Baker will be deep into his bullpen early to keep this game close.
Wanted: Houston Hits In Bunches
The Astros have that long, dangerous lineup, but they didn’t get much of anything from three key offensive players on Tuesday: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa combined to go 0-for-12 with six strikeouts. Altuve struck out three times in a postseason game for the first time in his career.
Brantley had three hits, Tucker had a pair, and Yordan Álvarez had another postseason triple, but those guys are separated in the order, and Houston couldn’t get the two-out hits they’ve been getting all postseason. If that changes, the Astros offense will hum and a win is more likely in Game 2.
Looking Forward: Game 4 Starter?
Luis Garcia is tabbed as the Game 3 starter for Houston, while Atlanta has not yet named who it will send to the mound.
A lot of things can change, but it’s likely that Game 4 will be a bullpen game for both teams. Now that the Braves have won a game on the road, they may be conservative with pitcher usage. They also have to contend with the loss of Charlie Morton, who suffered a broken leg in Game 1 and is done for the World Series.
Keep an eye on Drew Smyly and Zack Greinke, two starters who haven’t started much this postseason, but who could be pressed into duty. Greinke is comfortable coming into a game with runners on base too, so Dusty Baker has that added option with the veteran righty.
Exact World Series Result Prop
Currently, via BetMGM the series outcome odds are:
- Astros win in 5 games: +1100
- Astros win in 6 games: +500
- Astros win in 7 games: +400
- Braves win in 4 games: +700
- Braves win in 5 games: +400
- Braves win in 6 games: +600
- Braves win in 7 games: +550
Free Tacos For America
When Ozzie Albies stole second base in Game 1, he unlocked free tacos for everyone in America under the popular Taco Bell promotion. Remember to visit Taco Bell on November 4 to get your free taco.