A capsule look at World Series between Braves and Astros

·9 min read

A capsule look at the best-of-seven World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros:

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Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Tuesday, at Houston, 8:09 p.m. (Fox); Game 2, Wednesday, at Houston, 8:09 p.m. (Fox); Game 3, Friday, at Atlanta, 8:09 p.m. (Fox); Game 4, Saturday, at Atlanta, 8:09 p.m. (Fox); x-Game 5, Sunday, at Atlanta, 8:15 p.m. (Fox); x-Game 6, Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Houston, 8:09 p.m. (Fox); x-Game 7, Wednesday, Nov. 3, at Houston, 8:09 p.m. (Fox).

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Did not play.

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ATLANTA BRAVES

Record: 88-73.

Playoff Entry: NL East champion.

Manager: Brian Snitker (sixth season).

Projected Rotation: RHP Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA, 216 Ks in 185 2/3 IP), LHP Max Fried (14-7, 3.04, 158 Ks in 165 2/3 IP), RHP Ian Anderson (9-5, 3.58, 124 Ks in 128 1/3 IP), LHP Drew Smyly (11-4, 4.48).

Top Hitters: 1B Freddie Freeman (.300, 31 HRs, 83 RBIs, .896 OPS), 3B Austin Riley (.303, 33, 107, .898 OPS), 2B Ozzie Albies (.259, 30, 106, 40 doubles, 20 SBs), CF Adam Duvall (.228, 38, NL-best 113 with Miami and Atlanta).

Top Relievers: LHP Will Smith (3-7, 3.44 ERA, 37/43 saves, 87 Ks, 67 IP), LHP Tyler Matzek (0-4, 2.57, 77 Ks, 37 BBs in 63 IP), RHP Luke Jackson (2-2, 1.98), LHP A.J. Minter (3-6, 3.78).

October Glance: Once a World Series regular in the 1990s, the Braves are back for first time in 22 years after 12 playoff appearances from 2000-20 failed to produce a pennant. They're looking for second title in Atlanta history, after Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox led Braves to 1995 crown. Franchise also won World Series championships in 1957 (in Milwaukee) and 1914 (in Boston). ... Underdog Braves took down defending World Series champion Dodgers four games to two in NL Championship Series after blowing 2-0 and 3-1 leads against Los Angeles in 2020 NLCS. Dodgers had won 7 straight postseason elimination games dating to last year before Braves finally put them away, winning Game 6 at home 4-2. ... Eddie Rosario, acquired from Cleveland at July 30 trade deadline as part of outfield makeover, batted .560 (14 for 25) with 3 homers and 9 RBIs to win NLCS MVP award. He is hitting .474 with 1.313 OPS in postseason, including tiebreaking 3-run homer in NLCS clincher. ... Bullpen has been a big strength in October. Braves left-handed relievers limited LA hitters to 4 for 52 (.077) with 22 strikeouts in NLCS. Whether they can duplicate that success against Astros right-handed sluggers such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel could be a key to Series. ... In a unique family storyline, the 66-year-old Snitker squares off in World Series against his son, Troy, the Houston hitting coach. ... Braves won fourth consecutive division title this year and 21st overall, most in majors. Atlanta took 14 straight division crowns from 1991-2005, including first three during that run in NL West. ... Atlanta had fewest wins of any 2021 playoff team and less than two clubs that didn't even reach postseason: Toronto and Seattle. ... Braves shut down NL Central champion Brewers for 3-1 series victory in NLDS. Pitched consecutive shutouts, allowed six runs in four games and held Milwaukee off the scoreboard for 22 straight innings. Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP and longtime Braves star, hit tiebreaking homer in eighth inning of Game 4 clincher at home. ... Morton, who turns 38 next month, starts Series opener against his former team. The right-hander pitched Houston to 2017 World Series title, winning Game 7 at Dodger Stadium in relief by closing with four innings of one-run ball. He is 7-4 with 3.45 ERA in 16 postseason games, 15 starts, for Pittsburgh, Houston, Tampa Bay and Atlanta. ... Braves had a losing record most of first half and for the last time on Aug. 3, at 53-54. ... The 88 wins matched Braves’ fewest in a season they won a division title (2001). ... Atlanta threw 18 shutouts, second in majors to Brewers (19). ... Atlanta remade its outfield at midseason with great success after losing dynamic star Ronald Acuña Jr. to season-ending knee injury and Marcell Ozuna to hand injury and legal troubles. GM Alex Anthopoulos traded for outfielders Rosario, Duvall, Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler in July. Rosario was on injured list at the time with oblique strain. He made Braves debut Aug. 28 and hit .271 with 7 homers and 16 RBIs in 96 at-bats before going on playoff tear. Rosario, Duvall and Pederson combined to drive in 17 of Atlanta’s 28 runs in NLCS. ... Soler (.223, 27 HRs, 70 RBIs with Kansas City and Atlanta) could be good fit at DH in Houston if healthy enough. He tested positive for COVID-19 during NLDS and didn’t play in clincher vs. Milwaukee. Returned to roster for final two games of NLCS and went 1 for 2 with a double in pair of pinch-hit appearances. ... Freeman led NL with career-high 120 runs during regular season. Duvall topped league with 113 RBIs. Riley was second with 107 and Albies tied for third with 106. ... Braves won eight of last nine regular-season games, including three-game sweep that put away second-place Philadelphia in NL East.

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HOUSTON ASTROS

Record: 95-67.

Playoff Entry: AL West champion.

Manager: Dusty Baker (second season).

Projected Rotation: LHP Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA, 125 Ks), RHP Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30, 167 Ks as rookie), RHP José Urquidy (8-3, 3.62 in 20 starts), RHP Zack Greinke (11-6, 4.16 in 30 games, 29 starts) or RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.21).

Top Hitters: 1B Yuli Gurriel (AL-leading .319, 15 HRs, 81 RBIs), 2B Jose Altuve (.278, 31, 83), LF Michael Brantley (.311, 8, 47), SS Carlos Correa (.279, career-high 26, 92), DH Yordan Alvarez (.277, 33, 104), RF Kyle Tucker (.294, 30, 92, 37 doubles).

Top Relievers: RHP Ryan Pressly (5-3, 2.25 ERA, 26/28 saves), RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1, 3.13 in 23 games with Houston; 4-0, 0.82, 10 saves in 30 games with Seattle), RHP Ryne Stanek (3-5, 3.42, 2 saves), RHP Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.55, 2 saves, 130 Ks, 101 1/3 IP in 36 games, 9 starts), LHP Brooks Raley (2-3, 4.78, 2 saves, 65 Ks, 16 BBs, 49 IP in 58 games).

October Glance: Heavy-hitting Astros are in World Series for third time in five years, looking for franchise's second title after winning 2017 crown later tainted by illegal sign-stealing scandal. For a scorned team labeled as cheaters, this is a chance at some redemption. ... Houston lost to Washington in 2019 World Series, dropping Game 7 at home as road team won every game. ... Only other pennant came in 2005 as member of National League. Astros were swept in that World Series by Chicago White Sox. ... Houston and Atlanta met in five NL Division Series from 1997-2005, with Braves winning first three and Astros the last two. But clubs haven't played since 2017. ... Houston this year became third team in baseball history to reach five straight League Championship Series, and beat wild-card Boston 4-2 in ALCS. Alvarez, who missed last year’s postseason while recovering from double knee surgery, took home MVP trophy after batting an ALCS-record .522 (12 for 23) with a homer, 3 doubles, a triple and 6 RBIs. ... After getting blown out in Games 2 and 3 while giving up three grand slams, Astros got their pitching straightened out and outscored Red Sox 23-3 over final three games. Down two games to one, trailed 2-1 going into 8th inning of Game 4 at Fenway Park before Altuve hit tying homer and Houston scored 7 runs in 9th. ... Even without injured ace Justin Verlander and 2017 World Series MVP George Springer, who left for Toronto as a free agent last offseason, Houston won AL West for fourth time in five years. Finished second to Oakland during pandemic-shortened 2020 season. ... Playoff-tested Astros dispatched AL Central champion White Sox 3-1 in Division Series with impressive display of 2-out clutch hitting that carried into ALCS. Tucker had 2 homers and 7 RBIs vs. Chicago. ... Astros are minus top starter Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA, 185 Ks) because of forearm strain. He allowed one earned run over 10 2/3 innings in two ALDS starts but exited Game 4 with tightness and was left off ALCS roster. He won't pitch in World Series, either. ... Rookie CF Jake Meyers was on ALCS roster but didn’t play due to shoulder injury. He was replaced Chas McCormick and José Siri. ... The 72-year-old Baker is first manager to win division titles with five teams after also leading the Nationals, Reds, Cubs and Giants to crowns. This is his eighth division championship and 11th trip to playoffs but it still seeking first World Series title as a manager. Only other Series appearance as skipper came in 2002 with San Francisco, a seven-game loss to Angels. ... Houston’s longest winning streak this season was 11 games from June 13-24. ... Led majors with a .276 batting average, .339 OBP, 863 runs and 1,496 hits. Ranked second in majors by striking out just 1,222 times. ... 3B Alex Bregman returned Aug. 25 after missing more than two months with quadriceps injury. He hit .270 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 91 games. ... Pitching staff was fourth in AL with 3.76 ERA. ... The 38-year-old Greinke, a six-time All-Star and the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, returned from injured list on last day of regular season and hasn't pitched much over past 2 months. ... Correa, a free agent this fall, had one of his best seasons and led all position players with 7.2 WAR. His 2.9 defensive WAR also ranked first.

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The Associated Press

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