The World Series heads back to Atlanta with uncertainty in tow.
While winning both games one and two in Houston would have been the actual best-case scenario, getting a split before coming back home for three games is an outcome that most fans likely would have had no problem with coming into the series and one that pleased Braves Manager Brian Snitker.
The first two games were eerily similar for both teams. Both teams had innings get away from them with infield miscues while also showcasing game-changing power and strong relief pitching.
After Charlie Morton’s injury in game one, it was critical that Max Fried provide the team innings in game two. Despite a second inning that imploded around him, Fried’s ability to pitch into the sixth inning was important to keep the team’s bullpen arms as fresh as possible with the off-day today and a Friday night game that could be impacted by inclement weather.
Assuming no delays or cancellations, Ian Anderson’s start in game three may be the most critical of the series. A short stint by Anderson will just add to the stress and chaos of games four and five. However, if he can pitch deep in the game – at least to the sixth – the Braves will hopefully be able to limit the bullpen exposure.
With the temperature falling into the low 50’s for Friday night’s game, will Anderson’s experience as a cold-weather pitcher provide an advantage? And while home field advantage may have a nebulous outcome on games, excuse me for grasping at any straws that are available.
The Astros’ line-up is ridiculously good. Their bullpen has been outstanding. Watching Kendell Graveman pitch last night made me wonder how good he’d look in a Braves uniform next season – he is from Alex City after all. (That is getting ahead of myself, though.) His pre-trade deadline acquisition by the Astros is still mind-boggling.
The good news for Atlanta is that the Braves bats haven’t been squelched, the bullpen has been effective and outside of one inning, the Braves have played well enough to illicit more than a modicum of confidence in their future series performance.
In a post-season where Eddie Rosario was the NLCS MVP, Jorge Soler has been doing his best Ronald Acuña, Jr. impression and Joc Pederson has gotten wearing pearls more over that any time since the Golden Girls, it’s fitting the Braves ability to win the World Series may hinge on Kyle Wright and Tucker Davidson.
Baseball is a stupid, wonderful sport, isn’t it?
In our World Series prediction column, I had the Braves winning in six games. That still seems like the most plausible outcome of the series if the Braves are the victors. To do that, I believe Wright or Davidson must pitch a “Bryse Wilson” game. (As an aside, it is amazing how many people forgot/didn’t know Bryse Wilson now pitches for the Pittsburgh Pirates.)
With the World Series now a best-of-five affair, I don’t feel great about the Braves position, but I don’t feel bad, either.
This year’s Braves team has rebounded well from losses thus far this post-season. And while taking the next three games at home and celebrating a World Series victory just before midnight on Halloween would be an epic way to bring a championship to Atlanta, taking two out-of-three seems achievable. If that happens, could the Braves win one final game in Houston?
We will know more in less than 36 hours.
This World Series maybe heading toward one hell of a crescendo. While we are left to ponder what is in store tomorrow, I’ll leave you with a song whose crescendo is one of the most epic in the last three decades; a song that can soundtrack your anticipatory thoughts heading into Friday night.
From 1991, here’s the British shoegaze band Ride with “Today”.