What you need to know before Game 1 of the World Series

HOUSTON — Gerrit Cole will get the ball in Game 1, marking the first World Series appearance of his MLB career, against Max Scherzer no less. That’s a big moment for a player who has spent two decades preparing physically to be a big-league pitcher.

But he also prepared for this moment in a different way. His start on Tuesday will be his first time playing in a World Series, but it will hardly be his first time at the World Series.

“I've been to three World Series,” Cole said on Monday. “Four now.”

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The first three were as a spectator. He grew up going to Los Angeles Angles games as a SoCal kid and went to the 2002 World Series against the Giants. He went to the Yankees vs. D-backs World Series as a fan. And he’s been around the Giants World Series run of the 2010s since Cole’s wife Amy is the sister of San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford.

“I remember I was sitting on the third-base side of Angels Stadium down towards the front row and I had a nice perspective of Bonds versus Percival, he throws him this hundred-mile-an-hour fastball up at his neck and Bonds just cranks it out to right field. And I think the stadium just dropped dead for a minute,” Cole said. “I went to the World Series Yankees-Arizona, and that was just a really special World Series, I think, for the whole country. It was probably the only time most people felt some empathy for the Yankees. And then Gonzo just ripped it right out. So that was an unbelievable series getting to watch Randy [Johnson] and Curt Schilling work. And those are two of my favorite as a kid.

”And then I've been fortunate to be able to watch the Giants clinch in Detroit and to follow them along their ride. I only made one of the World Series, but I made both NLCSs.”

Gerrit Cole has been almost unhittable since June. (USA TODAY Sports)
Gerrit Cole has been almost unhittable since June. (USA TODAY Sports)

Speaking of rides — it’s been one heck of a ride for Cole this season. The Astros haven’t lost a game that Cole started since July 12. He hasn’t taken a loss on his record since May 22. He finished the regular season 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA with 326 strikeouts. He notched double-digit strikeouts in his nine final starts of the regular season, then continued in his first two postseason starts.

So far in October, he’s 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA — which amounts to one run allowed in 22.1 innings.

The Washington Nationals send an equally impressive pitcher to the mound in Game 1 in Scherzer, so this could be a potentially classic pitching matchup. Now we wait to see if Cole can add another World Series memory to his list. Or if the Nats can finally stop his magical run.

Game 1 lineups

What to watch for: How will the Nats use their bullpen?

As much as this series will focus on starting pitching — and it very much will — there’s still a question to be asked about how the Nationals will deploy their starters as relievers. Manager Davey Martinez showed us in the NLDS that he’s willing to throw a starter like Patrick Corbin as a reliever if the situation warrants.

Asked about his strategy on Monday, he wasn’t committing to anything other than trying to win every day.

“We're going to play every game to go 1-0, as I talked about all year long,” Martinez said. “With that being said, if there's a situation that we feel like a starter could benefit on us capitalizing and winning a game, then so be it. But there's seven games, so we've got to be very careful of how we do things.”

Game 1 pageantry

The World Series comes with a whole new level of pageantry. For Game 1, the Astros are bringing back two of their 2017 champs — Evan Gattis and the recently retired Brian McCann — to throw out the first pitch. Specifically, McCann will throw it and Gattis will catch it.

Houston Texans star JJ Watt will do the “Play Ball!” call and Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of The Pussycat Dolls and currently one of the judges on “The Masked Singer,” will sing the national anthem.

Quote of the Day

Max Scherzer will start Game 1 for the Nationals. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Max Scherzer will start Game 1 for the Nationals. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“I've always celebrated it, whether you liked it or not, that's who I am. I am one blue and one brown. There's nothing I can do about it. So you embrace it.” — Nationals Game 1 starter Max Scherzer on his different colored eyes.

Where to Watch

Game 1 starts at 8:08 p.m. ET from Minute Maid Park in Houston. TV coverage is on FOX.

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Mike Oz is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @mikeoz

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