Aces Wild

Ryan Boyer

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In the age of openers and bulk guys, we’ll sometimes get pitching matchups that are more likely to elicit yawns than cheers. Games 1 and 2 of the World Series will not be one of those instances.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez on Monday officially announced that Max Scherzer will start Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday and will be followed by Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 on Wednesday. Astros skipper A.J. Hinch will counter with Gerrit Cole in Game 1 and Justin Verlander in Game 2.

Giddy up.

You could make an argument for Strasburg getting the call in Game 1 for the Nats given how utterly dominant he’s been during these playoffs (1.64 ERA, 33/1 K/BB ratio over 22 innings) and in his postseason career (1.10 ERA, 57/5 K/BB ratio over 41 innings). However, Scherzer has been fantastic himself in his last two outings (0.64 ERA, 18/5 K/BB ratio over 14 innings). Plus, would you want to be the one to tell Mad Max that he’s *not* starting Game 1?

Meanwhile, Hinch didn’t really have a decision to make on his Game 1 starter since Verlander pitched last Friday. Cole has been absurd this postseason, having allowed just one run while boasting a 32/8 K/BB ratio across 22 2/3 frames. Verlander’s numbers (3.70 ERA, 29/8 K/BB ratio over 24 1/3 innings) aren’t as good, although that’s due mainly to his ALDS Game 4 struggles when he pitched on short rest.

Really, you couldn’t ask for two better pitching matchups to kick off the Fall Classic. Game 3 might be a doozy, as well. The Astros are going with Zack Greinke, while the Nationals are holding off naming a starter for now since Patrick Corbin could be used in relief for Game 1 and/or 2. Corbin will start either Game 3 or Game 4 back in Washington, D.C., with Anibal Sanchez taking the ball in the other game. Houston will go with a bullpen game in Game 4, likely led by either Brad Peacock or Jose Urquidy.

Yordan Alvarez is just 7-for-47 (.171) at the plate so far this postseason, but Hinch said he’ll stick with him as the Astros’ designated hitter in Games 1 and 2 in Houston. Whether the likely AL Rookie of the Year plays left field for the games at Nationals Park remains to be seen. Alvarez hasn’t started a game in the outfield since back on September 2.

NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick is expected to serve as the Nationals’ DH in the first two contests. That will free up second base for Brian Dozier and/or Asdrubal Cabrera, both of whom are better defenders than Kendrick. Kendrick will likely return to second base when the Nats return home, although he’s played some first base this postseason, too.

First pitch is at 8:08 ET on Tuesday. Buckle up, y’all.

Girardi “Clear Favorite” for Phillies Job?

It’s been obvious for a while now that the Phillies planned to replace former manager Gabe Kapler with someone that had more experience. Are they now zeroing in on one candidate?

David Kaplan of ESPN1000 has reported that former Joe Girardi was in Philadelphia for a second interview with the Phillies on Monday. Not only that, Kaplan says that Girardi has emerged as “the clear favorite” to become the team’s new skipper.

Longtime managers Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker have been viewed along with Girardi as the three most likely candidates to land the Phillies’ job. If anything, it had seemed like Showalter might have a leg up on the other two since he has connections in the team’s front office. However, Kaplan seems to be hearing that the club is leaning in Girardi’s direction.

Kapler, of course, had no major league managerial experience when the Phillies hired him two years ago. Between the three of them, Girardi, Showalter and Baker have 53 years of big league experience under their belts. Quite a contrast.

Girardi has also interviewed for the Cubs’ and Mets’ manager jobs, but the Cubs have reportedly narrowed their focus to Joe Espada and David Ross and the Mets seemingly might prefer a skipper that’s greener (and cheaper). An MLB Network analyst the last two years after being fired by the Yankees, Girardi boasts a career managerial record of 988-794 (.554) over 10 years with the Yanks and one with the Marlins. He won a World Series with the Bronx Bombers in 2009.


Quick Hits: Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday that the club anticipates Ryan Pressly (knee) being ready for the World Series … CC Sabathia officially announced his retirement from baseball on Monday. The big left-hander finished his 19-year career with 251 wins, a 3.74 ERA, one Cy Young award and six All-Star teams … Henry Schulman and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle have reported that Cubs first base coach Will Venable interviewed for the Giants' managerial opening last Friday. He is one of eight candidates known to have interviewed, joining Pedro Grifol, Gabe Kapler, Mark Kotsay, Hensley Meulens, Ron Wotus and Matt Quatraro. Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic hears that Mark Kotsay was a "favored candidate" at the beginning of the Giants' search …

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