While most teams will view the Astros as the bad guys after the recent cheating scandal that likely helped them win the 2017 World Championship, the Astros will undoubtedly see the 2021 World Championship as their chance of redemption.
Presumably they are no longer using technology to steal cues, giving them a chance to win the World Championship again fairly and squarely. But with the Braves keeping a high level of play since the end of July, Houston will need to play at a high level to win the world championship.
Preview: Five Keys to the Astros in the World Championship
In fairness, the Astros ALCS shut down in great fashion. After falling behind 2-1, some started counting them.
But Houston proceeded to win three games in a row against the Red Sox, beating them 23-3 in the process. Let’s check out five keys for the Astros to maintain that momentum and win the 2021 World Championship.
Is there ace?
Presented by Lance McCullers Jr. Superb display in his two matches earlier in the qualifiers but is unlikely to be healthy enough for the World Championships. This creates a huge hole in the top of Houston’s rotation, especially with Zach Grenke and Jose Orchidi on bad outings.
Framber Valdez looked part of an ace in game five of the ALCS while Luis Garcia did well in game 6. But Houston’s spin depth is a big question, and so they’ll need someone, probably Valdez, to perform like a superb ace.
With a question mark rotating, the Houston office needs to step up. The good news is that the team’s shorters have been great in the playoffs so far.
The likes of Ren Stanek, Phil Mattoon, Kendall Grafman, Christian Javier and Ryan Presley came closest to giving up just four runs in 34 rounds during qualifying. This group was quite dominant so far, and they would need to face it against the Braves.
The Astros had the fourth lowest number of bases stolen in baseball during the regular season, so that’s not a huge part of what they do.
But with the way the Dodgers ran over Atlanta catcher Travis Darno during the NLCS, the Braves have a clear weakness that the Astros need to exploit. While that’s not in their nature, they need to do more to steal the bases, especially with three matches in Atlanta when the Astros can’t use DH.
While Houston’s lineup is deep, it’s hard to imagine them winning the World Championship if Altuve didn’t have a good streak.
Motivation is supposed to be at the top of the lineup, although he had some difficulties in the playoffs. In 10 matches, Altuve only hits .200, even though he has a healthy .802 OPS. The Astros will likely need more of him in the World Championships.
Make the reptiles come
Of course, the biggest key to the Astros in the Fall Classic is doing what they do best, which is hitting the run on their own turf.
They already have 13 homes in 10 games from seven different players during the post-season. While home runs aren’t always a prerequisite for a Houston lineup, something will look like if the Astros don’t leave the field, so they need to keep hitting home against the Braves.
Read more about the 2021 World Championships in MLB Picks.