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World Series predictions from the Tampa Bay Times staff

Predictions from Marc Topkin, Martin Fennelly and John Romano.

There’s a lot in the Astros’ favor

Marc Topkin, Rays beat writer: Everything seems lined up for the Astros. They have their starters set up how they want them, momentum coming off the elimination of the Yankees and homefield advantage, while they’re facing a Nationals team that has been sitting idle for a week. Their only real flaws are the lack of a fourth starter, meaning they’ll have to use their bullpen heavily in Game 4 and bank on Gerrit Cole going deep in Game 5, and the inconsistencies of closer Roberto Osuna, which can be problematic. The Astros have the better and deeper lineup, and the experience of having been on this stage. While the Nats have top-of-the-line starters in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and exciting young players like Juan Soto and briefly-a-Ray Trea Turner, they have the look of a team that was on a really good run that’s about to end, and sitting around thinking about how unlikely it is that they’re gotten this far didn’t help. Astros in 6

Astros lineup makes things happen

Martin Fennelly, columnist: Remember when the Mets stunned the 109-win Orioles in 1969? Remember when the Reds stunned Oakland in 1990? Well, this isn’t that. A Washington baseball club has not won a World Series 95 years. Walter Johnson was used in relief in the deciding game back then, but it should be noted that Washington began the day by using an “opener.” That’s right. It was a bullpen day. The more things change. … It’s a matchup of horses, Scherzer and Strasburg, up against Verlander and Cole. It’s power on power and it will be an October treat for us. But somehow, some way, the Astros will find a way. It goes beyond the mighty mite, ALCS walkoff winner Jose Altuve. The Astros lineup is filled with guys who make things happen. Plus Houston has been working back toward this since Boston won the ALCS last season. This is about leaving a legacy. I love the Nats and their manager, Dave Martinez, but I can’t see this lasting long. Astros in 6

Nationals bullpen can’t match up

John Romano, columnist: My heart says this could be a classic. It says Scherzer and Strasburg could put a team and a city on their shoulders and carry the Nationals farther than anyone could imagine. Yes, the romantic in me is hoping for a week of heart-pounding 3-2 games. Unfortunately, my heart is a sucker for fairy tales. Scherzer and Strasburg will do their part but eventually the Nationals will have to turn to their bullpen. And Houston’s hitters will destroy those guys. Astros in 5.