Astros, Braves set to clash in 2021 World Series

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Jada Roth

The Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves are set to face off in the World Series, in what should be an exciting seven-game series.

This season, the American League champion Houston Astros once again proved why they are one of the best teams in baseball. Led by Dusty Baker, veteran manager and former Braves player, the Astros went 95-67 during the regular season, claiming the AL West title in the process.

Despite losing superstar pitcher Justin Verlander for the season to Tommy John surgery, the Astros pitching remains elite. Starting pitchers Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez all won more than 10 games this year. McCullers emerged as Houston’s ace pitcher this season, averaging over 10 strikeouts per game and an ERA of 3.16 per game

In the bullpen, closer Ryan Pressly recorded 26 saves during the regular season, while other arms such as Brooks Raley, Christian Javier and Ryne Stanek provide solid middle inning options for Baker. Kendall Graveman, a midseason acquisition from the Seattle Mariners, also provides excellent relief pitching.

However, the strength of the Houston Astros remains in its bats. Three players — Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker, hit more than 30 home runs this season. Carlos Correa was not far behind, with 26 of his own. Yuli Gurriel won the batting title this season, hitting .319 to lead the American League.

After winning the AL West, the Astros faced the Chicago White Sox in the best of five AL Divisional Series. Houston dispatched Chicago, winning the series 3-1. The White Sox had no answer for Houston’s offense, as the Astros scored at least six runs in every game.

Next, the Astros faced the Boston Red Sox in the best of seven AL Championship Series, which Houston won 4-2. After offensive outbursts in games two and three, Red Sox bats fell silent in games four through six, managing only three combined runs for those games. 

Alvarez won the ALCS MVP award, after batting an otherworldly elite .522 during the six-game set.

Looking forward to the World Series, the Astros look to be without McCullers Jr. and center fielder Jake Meyers.

The National League champions Atlanta Braves look to capture their first World Series title since 1995. Despite losing superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. to injury in July, Atlanta won the NL East with a record of 88-73.  

Braves pitching is led by their ace Charlie Morton, who recorded 14 wins this season. Morton is a former Astro and was the pitcher who closed out the 2017 World Series when Houston outlasted the Dodgers in seven games. 

Morton is joined by other excellent pitchers, including Max Fried, Drew Smyly and Ian Anderson. In the bullpen, closer Will Smith recorded 37 saves this season, while relief pitcher Luke Jackson sets to dominate the middle innings.

Braves bats are also deadly in their own right. Despite losing Acuña Jr, Atlanta boasts Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson, Joc Pederson, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley and Eddie Rosario. Albies, Freeman and Riley all hit more than 30 home runs this season.

Atlanta began the playoffs in the NL Divisional Series against the Milwaukee Brewers. In a low scoring series, the Braves won the five-game set in four games.

The Braves then advanced to the best of seven NL Championship Series against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is a repeat of last season’s NLCS, when the Braves suffered an embarrassing collapse after leading the series 3-1. This season however, the Braves were able to put away the Dodgers in six games, despite Los Angeles’ impressive 106-win season.

This series will be highly entertaining for any baseball lover, with both a blend of expert pitching and high caliber offenses. The Houston Astros will maintain home field advantage for the series.