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World Series predictions from the Tampa Bay Times staff

Predictions from Marc Topkin, Martin Fennelly and John Romano.
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer warms up during batting practice for baseball's World Series Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Houston. The Houston Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game 1 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) [DAVID J. PHILLIP | AP]
Published Oct. 22

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.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. FILE - In this July 24, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during a baseball game in Houston. Verlander has been awarded his second AL Cy Young Award. MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    The Mets’ Jacob deGrom wins the NL award for the second straight year.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  3. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
  4. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Plant High and Florida star Pete Alonso a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday
  7. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  8. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  9. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.
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