This couldn’t have worked out much better than it did for the Washington Nationals, as we head into World Series Game 7. Well, except for the blowing a 2-0 lead part, but that seems like ancient history.
The past is the past at this point, it’s down to one game for the World Series title and the Washington Nationals have Max Scherzer starting, which is better than almost any other alternative.
Scherzer, you’ll remember, was supposed to pitch Game 5 but was a late scratch because of a neck and back injury. It was a surprise, since Scherzer is about as intense a competitor as there is in MLB. Joe Ross took his place. The Astros won that game, but all things considered, it could have gone worse for the Nats.
After Stephen Strasburg’s 8.1 innings performance in Game 6, the Nats now find themselves with a relatively rested group in the bullpen and their ace on the mound. They’d have signed up for that.
The question around Scherzer is just how healthy he is, what his stuff will look like and what could knock him out of the game early. He got a cortisone shot to relieve his pain and played catch before Game 6. He felt well enough that he went down to the bullpen at one point during the Nats’ thrilling win but never saw action.
The Astros will counter with Zack Greinke, their trade-deadline acquisition, who started Game 3. He wasn’t amazing, but he did enough for the Astros to win. He has a 5.30 ERA in four starts this postseason, but when he’s on, can be a much better pitcher than that.
This will be the first World Series Game 7 in history with two Cy Young winners. Buckle up.
Game 7 lineups
How the Astros line up for Game 7 pic.twitter.com/WzULjdCgv4
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 30, 2019
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 30, 2019
Update: The Nationals scratched catcher Kurt Suzuki and tweaked their batting order.
Lineup change for the Nationals: Kurt Suzuki has been scratched and Yan Gomes will catch Max Scherzer and hit eighth tonight.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) October 30, 2019
What to watch for: Home Field Advantage?
By now you probably know that this series isn’t normal. The home team has lost every game, which is a first in not only World Series history, but it’s never happened in the NBA or NHL finals, either. If that keeps up, it certainly favors the Nationals.
Two other facts to consider: Home teams don’t actually have an advantage historically in World Series Game 7s. They’re 19-20. The last three World Series Game 7s — 2017, 2016 and 2014 — were all won by the visiting team.
Game 7 pageantry
• The first pitch will be thrown by two Astros legends and MLB Hall of Famers — Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.
• Country singer Cody Johnson will sing the National Anthem.
• Film star and meme-able leading man Matthew McConaughey will do the "Play Ball" call.
Quote of the Day
“Yeah, it's going to be a big game,” — Zack Greinke, man of few words, sizing up the importance of Game 7.
Where to Watch
Game 7 starts at 8:07 p.m. ET from Minute Maid Park in Houston. TV coverage is on Fox.
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