The Astros have been favored in each of the first four games of the 2021 World Series. Expect that to change for Game 5, when the Braves put their perfect home record on the line with a chance to win their first title since 1995.
The total runs bet is to go low: it’s clear now that these two teams are leveraging their bullpen arms to keep runs off the board. It’s harder to score a run in this Series than it is to tap dance on a frozen pond.
Both managers have kept their moves conservative thus far, save for Brian Snitker’s peculiar decision to start rookie Dylan Lee on Saturday. But Sunday you could see some weird things because the Astros are up against the wall. Everyone has to be available, and all options have to be on the table. Look for the Astros to try to kick-start their offense on the base paths.
Both Bullpens Will Be On The Spot Sunday
Yes, bullpen games are grueling. Yes, these relievers on both sides all seem to look alike, throw alike and have generic names. But fasten your recliner: another bullpen game is on your way for Game 5. Both the Braves and Astros are expected to empty their pen on Sunday to get through nine innings (or more).
The Braves lost ace Charlie Morton in Game 1 when he broke his leg. Up 3-1, they won’t use a starter in this contest, opting to run out Jesse Chavez (most likely as the opener) and then calling on arm after arm after arm after…you get the idea.
Dusty Baker used Cristian Javier in relief on Saturday and watched him surrender two home runs that lost the game. With Javier burned, he won’t be asked to start Game Five. Instead, the desperate Astros will need to get an outing from Game 1 starter Framber Valdez, who was absolutely torched in his start five days ago, allowing five runs in two innings.
Astros Have Come Back Before
It’s not like the Astros can’t bounce back from a 3-games-to-1 hole. Last fall in the AL Championship Series, this same team fell behind 3-0 to the Rays before winning three straight to force a Game 7.
Houston Lineup Slumping OR Braves Pitching Too Good?
Where’s the swagger? Where’s the big inning magic that helped propel the Astros into their third World Series in five years? It’s long gone.
Carlos Correa is bouncing pitches into the dirt and grounding out to third base too often. Alex Bregman is an empty shirt. Jose Altuve hits four rockets one night, then has a quiet 0-fer the next. Yordan Alvarez, the MVP of the League Championship Series, is hitting .091 in the Fall Classic.
Much of that frustrating production from the vaunted Houston offense can be attributed to the Braves’ excellent pitching in this series. Again in Game 4, the Braves bullpen allowed just one run in 8 2/3 innings of work. The Big Four of Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter. and Will Smith have pitched 13 2/2 innings in this World Series and have allowed just two runs.
Notes on the 2021 World Series
- The Braves are a perfect 7-0 at Truist Park in Atlanta this postseason. No team has ever won that many games at home in a single postseason without losing at least one in their home park.
- Atlanta’s Jorge Soler is the first player to hit a leadoff homer and a pinch-hit homer in the same World Series.
- Zack Greinke has now started three games in the World Series (all of them for Houston). He has a 1.8 ERA in 15 innings but has yet to earn a decision.
- Greinke went into the Game 4 start with more than 3,000 more innings in the major leagues than Atlanta starter Dylan Lee, who had never started an MLB game before Saturday night.
- With his solo homer in the fourth, Jose Altuve moved into second place for most homers in the post-season with 23. The all-time leader is Manny Ramirez, with 29.
- Houston’s Alex Bregman, who bats third in the lineup, is 6-for-37 (.162) in the last two rounds of this postseason. Since the revelation of the sign-stealing scandal after the 2019 World Series, Bregman is hitting .257 with a .422 slugging percentage. Prior to that, the Astros’ third baseman batted .286 with a .527 slugging percentage.