3 pennants in 5 years. Another World Series in Houston, Texas babbyyyyy. The Apollo crew will knock out part 1 of a roundtable that will only cover the first two games in the series and then have another one before we head off to Atlanta.
Let’s dive into it.
Houston must travel to Atlanta up 2-0. What needs to happen to make that possible?
Dez: Have to jump on the starting pitching early and often. Yes, that means we have to score on Houston’s 2nd fav son Charlie Morton. He has owned us since he got us a title in 17.
Tony Adams: Consistent offense. The Astros lineup is so strong. If the Astros just play to their average, they will score a lot of runs and can overcome any bad outing by the starters or pen.
Justin Barbosa: The offense needs to jump early on ATL the first few innings and get to their bullpen, and starters need to go at least 5-6 innings
Astros UK: Harnessing emotions. Game 1 sets the tone for the World Series and it’s unquestionable (plus understandable) that the players’ hearts will be racing on the biggest stage in all of baseball, especially the younger players. The trick is to use that adrenaline to recognise the pivotal moments and to control it the rest of the time. The legendary snooker player Steve Davis once said – “you have to play as if it means nothing, when really it means everything.” Be calm, be confident, be themselves – own this moment. All intangibles, yes, but all critical – we saw what happened to Gerrit Cole in Game 1 back in 2019. The other thing is to keep on keeping on – the balance of the relentless offense and the nails pitching of all our arms in ALCS Games 4-6 was pretty much perfect. Keep this forward momentum and establish control early in this WS: don’t give up cheap outs, make every pitch the Braves throw stressful.
Stoney: The Astros need their starting pitching, Framber Valdez and probably Luis Garcia, to go at least five innings in both of their starts. That gives the offense enough time to get some runs on the board and doesn’t make the bullpen get up in the second inning multiple times like we saw the last series.
Andrew Gleinser: It’s all going to come down to pitching. As we saw in the ALCS, if the Astros pitching staff is not effective, they have little chance of winning. The starters will need to go at least five solid innings, and the bullpen will have to continue to pick up key outs. We know the lineup is going to battle and make it hard on opposing pitchers. So as go the Astros pitchers, as go the Astros.
Lil Bro: Hits, hits & more hits. Look, we’re going to be lucky to 4 decent pitching performances in this series, but we can out-slug this team 7 outta 7 times. We’ve gotta be smart at the plate & keep the line moving. Stros’ have only had one game so far where they scored less than 5 runs, it’s essential that the offense continues this dominance to ease some of the pressure off this short-handed pitching staff.
Spaceman: Mainly it comes down to starting pitching doing their jobs. We cannot have a repeat of the ALCS game 2 going down big in early innings at any point of this WS. In the absence of Lance McCullers Jr, Framber Valdez needs to spin a gem game 1, the fans need to keep the energy levels at 11 and the hitters need to exploit their knowledge of Charlie Morton’s repertoire.
Offensive X-Factor for the first two games
Dez: I think I will just default to my son, Yordan Alvarez. He is locked in and if he stays hot. Oh buddy.
Tony Adams: Alex Bregman has been hitting for average, but not power. If he gets locked in and starts mashing, he has the potential to take over the series.
Justin Barbosa: Kyle Tucker, if he can lay off the elevated high fastball and not chase pitches outside the zone and work the count + get big hits like he did in game 2 of ALDS and especially game 6 in ALCS, it’s a wrap.
Astros UK: Here’s the beauty of the 2021 Astros, we have (at LEAST) 7 bats who could take the whole series by storm. I think if pushed to go with one option though it HAS to be Yordan Alvarez. Wisdom beyond his years at the plate, if he continues that ALCS MVP form we’re going to be tough to stop.
Stoney: Since the lineup is so incredibly deep, there can be multiple offensive x-factors. but if I have to choose one, I’m going with Yordan Alvarez. Do the Braves learn from the Red Sox and avoid pitching to him? Or do they put on a brave face and hope that he doesn’t destroy them? Yordan can flip a series upside down as we just saw in the ALCS.
AG: Carlos Correa is the guy I’m watching. Aside from his home run in Game 1, he had a relatively quiet ALCS. But he’s bound to come up with a clutch hit at some point in the World Series. He relishes those moments, and this could sadly be his last hurrah in Houston. If these are his final games for the home team at Minute Maid Park, I think he’ll want to go out with a bang.
LBT: The offensive key for the Astros’ first 2 home games will be patience at the plate. Unlike in an away game, where it may make sense to be more aggressive in an attempt to capture momentum, Houston should be looking to ride the vibe of the home crowd & make these ATL pitchers’ work. Of course, the tone of the lineup is set by the leadoff man, which means Mr. “Let Me at Em” Jose Altuve is going to have to contain his excitement & refrain from flying into easy outs. I’m not saying he shouldn’t jump on juicy pitches early in the count, but he shouldn’t be swinging silly-nilly for the sake of getting out ahead. Houston is a baseball city, the Juice Box will do its’ job and be steadily rowdy throughout – focus on winning the walk battle, putting runners in scoring position & stringing hits together.
BLima: Offensive X factor will be Alex Bregman. Altuve, Correa, Brantley and Tucker have all had their big moments with Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez leading the offense surge but Alex Bregman has been relatively quiet this postseason. I look for Bregman to have a few timely hits with a big time double or bomb onto the tracks.
Spaceman: I’m looking to whoever is filling the centerfield hole to come up big. We heard yesterday that Siri, McCormick, and Tucker were all taking reps in center. Preparing for the road games in ATL when it seems viable to put Yordan Alvarez in left field, the shuffling of the outfielders will be an important chess piece in this series concerning production at the plate.
Pitching X- Factor
Dez: Which Framber shows up? The one who cant get out of the 2nd or the one who spins a gem on the road in the biggest game of his life?
Tony: Christian Javier. With the starters looking pretty thin due to injury, there would most likely be opportunities for Javier to throw significant innings in the middle of a game. If a starter is in trouble, Javier is the bridge to Stanek/Graveman/Pressly.
JB: Jose Urquidy, if he can brush off his rough start from game 3 and punch the zone with his fastball and slider, the Astros could be in good position to take one on the road IF he’s projected for game 3.
Astros UK: I feel like I jinxed Jose Urquidy in the ALCS – so to prevent jinxing anyone else I’m sticking with ‘Smoke’. Look to see Urquidy taking a page out of the Framber/Garcia playbook and respond to a terrible outing with a huge one at the other end of the spectrum.
Stoney: My pitching X factor is the starting pitchers. Can they get through five innings? Can they have another magical start like Valdez did in game 5 of the ALCS and get through seven or eight innings of work? That’s the key to getting a 2-0 lead in this World Series.
AG: This one’s easy – Framber Valdez. With Lance McCullers not pitching in the World Series, Valdez is the undisputed ace. The Astros will look to him to set the tone in Game 1, and if he resembles anything close to the guy who shut down the red-hot Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS, he’ll be just what the Astros need. He’s clearly their best starter, and they’ll also likely be turning to him for another win later in the series as well.
LBT: With LMJ out & Greinke hobbled, you’ve gotta be concerned with the starting pitching. We have our 3 guys set (Framber, Garcia & Urquidy) + some combo of Javier/Greinke/Odorizzi for game 4, but I think your eye has to be on the next-man-up ace. 5 complete innings with less than 4 runs should be more than enough to push Luis & Jose over the edge with the way our bullpen has been throwing, but I fear we may need another gem from the Framchise. Not really worried about it though tbh, I have no doubt that the kid’s up to the task. In fact, this may be where he starts making his case for a $200M contract in 2025.
Blima: Pitching X factor for me is going to be the bullpen, specifically the middle relief guys. Assuming Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia get you through 4-5 IP, can guys like Phil Maton, Yimi Garcia, Brooks Raley continue to make quality pitches, get outs and hold the line to pass the ball off to Graveman, Stanek and Pressly.
Spaceman: Look, if this bullpen can do what they did in the ALCS this will be a short World Series. Considering you have two sidelined aces in Verlander and McCullers Jr., the rest of the weary pitching staff really needs to show up. Greinke and Odorizzi need to perform where they haven’t been recently. Maybe the World Series lights will ignite their flames and they’ll deal.
What is your favorite thing about the World Series?
Dez: The memories. I can tell you everything about October 2017 and October 2019. This is the golden age. SOAK IT IN.
JB: Just the intensity and that every pitch and at-bat is crucial, I hope the crowd at Minute Maid turn it up like never before, the guys need it and it’s our time.
UK: Favourite THING? Like 1 singular thing? Dude, this is the God DAMN World Series(!!) – as fans we live for this and we are never guaranteed to experience another one. Enjoy ALL of it, savour it, immerse yourself in it, be proud of this wonderful Astros team and Astros era and roar us on to victory. The stakes can never get any greater than this… LET’S GO!!
Stoney: My favorite thing about the World Series is the amount of stress and excitement I receive from each and every pitch. Since every pitch is the most important one of the game, it can affect your happiness, and it can also give you a heart-attack. It’s the coolest thing ever.
AG: It’s baseball’s biggest stage when the lights are shining brightest, and you never know who’s going to become a legend. Every pitch could be a key moment or turning point in the series. Who can forget Marwin Gonzalez’s home run off Kenley Jansen in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, or George Springer shaking off a slump and terrorizing Dodgers pitching for six straight games? I’m excited to see who steps up this time around.
LBT: It’s not the history or prestige, nor is it the excitement or anticipation. It’s the fucking validation. For my entire childhood, the national media treated the most prominent city in the South, my city, like an afterthought. It feels so damn good that the Astros have forced the entire nation to finally pay attention, feels even better that the West Coasters & New Englanders hate our guts. Hell, we may even be able to resign Correa with all the money we’re saving by living rent-free in the heads of half of America. H-town vs Everyone.
BLima: My favorite thing about the World Series and basically the Postseaon in general are the big moments. Kirk Gibson walkoff in 88’, Joe Carter walkoff bomb for Toronto in 93’, Luis Gonzalez’s jam shot walkoff to win the WS in 01 for Arizona, Alex Bregman’s walkoff winner in game 5 of 2017 and all the smaller yet still HUGE moments inside the games of the World Series. These moments blow the roof off stadiums and have fans like me screaming “LETS GOOOOO!” while pounding my chest at a random bar but feeling like I’m in the dugout. THAT’S what I love most about the World Series.
Spaceman: The Astros being the villain in this World Series is going to be fun. When they win everyone will be pissed. Surely people will concede and admit the Astros are talented without any rule breaking, right? Nah, fuck ’em, we ball.
We will be back here for Game 3.
Be sure to check out our 2021 World Series hype video assembled with love by the team at Apollo.