For the first time all playoffs long, the Washington Nationals couldn’t find a way to get the big clutch hit they needed. The Nats had won eighteen of their previous twenty games, and they did so mostly by finding timely hits with runners on base. Last night, they racked up fourteen base runners and managed just one run. Washington had runners on in scoring position in each of the first sixth innings but just couldn’t find a way to drive runs across the plate. The result? A 4-1 loss.
It was certainly a frustrating night for the Nationals as they had so many opportunities to score, and with the loss, they have now opened the door for Houston to get back into this series. Houston starter Zack Greinke managed to get out of several jams, and the Houston bullpen slammed the door shut after that. The win was a huge won for Houston as history tells us a team that falls down three games to none in a seven-game series just isn’t going to be able to come back from it.
That makes tonight’s game four even more pivotal as I expect the winner of this game to end up winning the series. If Washington can regain their composure and take a 3-1 series lead, they will just need one more win, and with guys like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer waiting in the wings, I think they will find a way to close it out.
And on the flip side, if Houston can knock off the Nats on the road and regain home-field advantage and all of the momentum in the series, it is hard not to like them to win the out and take the crown. With so much on the line tonight, we will stay with the series for today’s pick and breakdown game four of the World Series.
The Washington Nationals will look to stay in the driver’s seat tonight at home as they host the Houston Astros in game four of the World Series. The Nats had a chance to essentially put away the Astros last night but couldn’t take care of business, and now must win tonight at home in order to stay favorites to win their first-ever World Series title in franchise history. For the Astros, they had to win last night, and they got it done. They will try and tie the series up tonight in game four.
Starting for the Nationals is Patrick Corbin (1-2 6.91 ERA), and for the Astros it is opener Jose Urquidy (0-0 2.08 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Nationals are small -108 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington DC.
Patrick Corbin has been a wild card for the Nats in this postseason. After spending the entire regular season as a starter, and a damn good one, he has shifted to more of a utility man in the playoffs. Corbin has made six appearances, but only two of them have been starts as they have used him in relief quite a bit. Corbin has been hot and cold on the mound, as he had one really bad outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, but since then has been mostly solid.
Corbin struck out 238 guys in the regular season and has been striking out guys at an even higher rate here in the postseason. In just fourteen and a third innings pitched, he already has twenty-eight strikeouts. In his last start, he struck out twelve in five innings, and in his one appearance in this series, he came out of the bullpen and struck out two in one inning of work. Corbin can struggle to get deep into games as he throws a lot of pitches trying to strike everyone out, and he needs to find a way to get at least six or seven innings in tonight in the Nats want a shot at winning.
The Astros had the choice of either starting Gerrit Cole on four days rest or going with a bullpen day. And they have decided that a bullpen day makes more sense as they have gotten burned in this postseason starting guys on less than normal rest. That means they are going to use opener Jose Urquidy, who has only pitched a total of forty-five big league innings tonight for the first inning, maybe two.
Urquidy has been shaky in the playoffs in two appearances as he has pitched four and a third innings and allowed just one earned run, despite giving up six hits and two walks. The Houston bullpen didn’t allow a run in games one and three, but in game two, they got blasted for eight runs in just three innings. Which bullpen will we see tonight?
I have stuck by the Nationals all playoffs long, and they have continually cashed tickets for me, mostly as underdogs. And I am going to stick with them tonight in this one, as they are a rare favorite. Corbin can be shaky at times, and while he does strike out a lot of guys, he almost always gives up a run or two. And the Washington bullpen definitely can’t be trusted either. But I just see the Nats finding a way to score runs off of the Houston bullpen tonight.
It seems to me that the Astros are willing to basically concede this game, to give them a shot at sweeping the last three games of the series with their trio of aces in Verlander, Cole, and Greinke on the mound. That is not to say they aren’t going to go all out tonight to try and win, but clearly, they have decided that they would rather rest up for the late games in Houston, than go all-in and start Cole on short rest tonight.
I think this game is a little higher scoring than we have seen in this series and will likely end up going well over the total. Urquidy will struggle, and I see runs coming early and often for both sides. But when all of the smoke clears, the Washington Nationals will get back on the wagon and find a way to win tonight. Give me the Washington Nationals as home favorites tonight in game four at -108!