Braves: World Series Game 1 Preview

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For the first time since 1999, the Atlanta Braves are in the World Series. They will be facing the Houston Astros, who are no stranger to the big stage as they have been in the Fall Classic three times in the last five years. Taking the mound for the Braves will be former Astro Charlie Morton while Framber Valdez will toe the rubber for Houston.

The Starters

Charlie Morton:
Season:

33 Starts; 14-6

3.34 ERA

1.045 WHIP

3.72 SO/W

Postseason:

16 Games (15 Starts); 7-4

3.45 ERA

1.216 WHIP

2.87 SO/W

Framber Valdez
Season:

22 Starts; 11-6

3.14 ERA

1.248 WHIP

2.16 SO/W

Postseason:

7 Games (6 Starts); 4-1

2.77 ERA

1.154 WHIP

2.60 SO/W

For the first time since 2018, Charlie Morton will be starting a postseason game in Minute Maid Park. While spending two seasons with the Astros, Morton had some of his best years, accumulating a 3.36 ERA over 55 starts, including winning the 2017 World Series. Now, he will try and beat his former squad and propel the Braves to their first World Series win since 1995.

With six days of rest since his last start in Game 3 of the NLCS, Morton should be gassed up and ready to go. In that start, he had a rough first inning, giving up two runs and walking for batters. However, what was looking like a short day for Morton turned into a phenomenal outing as he managed to hold the Dodgers scoreless for the next four innings. He will look to build off that start by going up against a lineup that he hasn’t faced before.

The Braves won’t be unopposed as the young left-hander from the Dominican Republic will take the mound for the Astros. Framber Valdez is coming off of the best season of his career as he started a career-high 22 games. He followed that by putting the team on his back in a pivotal Game 5 of the ALCS. It was an absolutely dazzling start against the Red Sox as Valdez went eight innings, while only allowing one run off of three hits and a walk.

Valdez has been much better at Minute Maid Park. He holds a career 3.45 ERA at home compared to a 4.02 ERA on the road. What may be a disadvantage for Framber Valdez, however, is that he has never faced the Braves in his big league career.

The Bullpens

Braves:
Season:

3.97 ERA

1.320 WHIP

.241 AVG

Postseason:

3.56 ERA

1.230 WHIP

.228 AVG

Astros:
Season:

4.06 ERA

1.300 WHIP

.230 AVG

Postseason:

3.42 ERA

1.180 WHIP

.230 AVG

Statistically speaking, these bullpens are about as even as they get. The only significant difference is that the Astros relievers have worked 50 total innings this postseason, compared to the Braves 43. Now, that may not seem like a lot, but bullpen overexposure is a real thing. The Dodgers ‘pen had to cover 58.1 innings, and while they were still pretty good, they were obviously not pitching at 100%. If the Braves can get to Framber Valdez early, they could take advantage of the Astros bullpen later in the series.

The Lineups

Braves:

Eddie Rosario: .259/.305/.435; .740 OPS; 14 HR; 62 RBI; 11 SB; 1-3 BB K

Jorge Soler: .223/.316/.432; .749 OPS; 27 HR; 70 RBI; 1-2

Freddie Freeman: .300/.393/.503; .896 OPS; 31 HR; 83 RBI; 8 SB

Austin Riley: .303/.367/.531; .898 OPS; 33 HR; 107 RBI

Ozzie Albies: .259/.310/.488; .799 OPS; 30 HR; 106 RBI; 20 SB

Adam Duvall: .228/.281/.491; .772 OPS; 38 HR; 113 RBI; 5 SB

Joc Pederson: .238/.310/.422; .732 OPS; 18 HR; 61 RBI; 2 SB

Dansby Swanson: .248/.311/.449: .760 OPS; 27 HR; 88 RBI; 9 SB

Travis d’Arnaud: .220/.284/.388; .671 OPS; 7 HR; 26 RBI

Bench:

Guillermo Heredia: .220/.311/.354; .665 OPS; 5 HR; 26 RBI; 1-1 BB

Ehire Adrianza: .247/.327/.401; .728 OPS; 5 HR; 28 RBI; 0-1 BB

William Contreras: .215/.303/.399; .701 OPS; 8 HR; 23 RBI

Orlando Arcia: .198/.258/.309; .567 OPS; 2 HR; 14 RBI; SB

Terrance Gore: (AAA) .232/.361/.319; .680 OPS; RBI; 18 SB

Astros:

Jose Altuve: .278/.350/.489; .839 OPS; 31 HR; 83 RBI; 5 SB; 2-10 HR 2RBI BB K

Michael Brantley: .311/.362/.437; .799 OPS; 8 HR; 47 RBI; 1 SB; 3-15 2 2B 4RBI BB 4K

Alex Bregman: .270/.355/.422; .777 OPS; 12 HR; 55 RBI; 1 SB; 1-4 K

Yordan Alvarez: .277/.346/.531; .877 OPS; 33 HR; 104 RBI; 1 SB; 1-2 2B K

Carlos Correa: .279/.366/.485; .850 OPS; 26 HR; 92 RBI

Kyle Tucker: .294/.359/.557; .917 OPS; 30 HR; 92 RBI; 14 SB

Yuli Gurriel: .319/.383/.462; .846 OPS; 15 HR; 81 RBI; 1 SB; 1-3 2B 2RBI BB K

Chas McCormick: .257/.319/.447; .766 OPS; 14 HR; 50 RBI; 4 SB

Martín Maldonado: .172/.272/.300; .573 OPS; 12 HR; 36 RBI; 7-13 2B RBI 4BB K

Bench:

Jason Castro: .235/.356/.443; .799 OPS; 8 HR; 21 RBI; 2-8 3K

Aledmys Díaz: .259/.317/.405; .721 OPS; 8 HR; 45 RBI; 0-4 K

Jake Meyers: .260/.323/.438; .761 OPS; 6 HR; 28 RBI; 3 SB

Jose Siri: .304/.347/.609; .956 OPS; 4 HR; 9 RBI; 3 SB

This series will be dominated by two high powered offenses. The Braves hit 239 home runs compared to the Astros 221.  There are no slouches in either of these lineups, and each hitter is liable to go yard at any time.

You would normally expect Brian Snitker to arrange his lineup with his best right-handed bat higher in the order against a lefty, but with Rosario hot and Joc Pederson hitting lefties better than righties, there should be no significant changes. The only potential question is where Jorge Soler will bat? He was leading off before he was diagnosed with COVID-19, but Rosario took that spot from him and has run with it.

For the Astros, their lineup will probably stay the same as it was for the ALCS, barring any significant shakeup from manager Dusty Baker. He rolled with the same lineup in each game against the Red Sox.

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