World Series Live: World Series 2019 Live Stream, The Houston Astros are set to take on the Washington Nationals in the best-of-seven 2019 World Series of Baseball, which kicks off on Tuesday evening at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, and every game broadcast live on FOX. The Astros won the ALCS Saturday night, defeating the Yankees in walk-off fashion in Game 6.
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In the year of the home run, the Astros and Nationals have served as reminders that exciting, dominant starting pitching is still out there, and still effective. Both clubs, who will face off in the 2019 World Series beginning with Game 1 on Tuesday, are built around their rotation. Pitching, was hardly the focus in the regular season, however. Instead, it was the juiced ball that got the attention, from early April when its use was first detected, and then in the postseason when, suddenly, it was nowhere to be found.
Some narrative-setting background, for those who haven’t been following along: the 2019 ball isn’t actually “juiced,” but its seams have been altered in a way that changes its aerodynamics significantly — those alternations and their effects have been described in detail by Meredith Willis and Rob Arthur. That change, which reduces drag, played more than a small part in this record-setting season, in which a new mark was set for the most homers in a single MLB season… on September 11, with weeks to go before all of the playoff spots were locked up. That record-breaking dinger, struck by the Orioles’ Jonathan Villar, was number 6,106 for the year: by season’s end, the league had hit 6,776, shattering the old mark.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, like in the 2017 season when ball physics was also a popular topic, repeatedly denied anything was different about the balls, then moved on to denying that anything was deliberately different, and then finally admitted that something was both different and wrong, and that MLB would get the baseball scientists on the case so they could figure out what it was come the offseason.
Manfred spoke of how MLB wanted to strive for transparency on the ball issue, and that, while they weren’t required to discuss changes to the ball with the Players Association, they wanted to make sure players would be “aware” of the situation. Then, when the playoffs started, roughly a week after Manfred’s comments, the rocket ball vanished. There was no notice from the league. MLB is, once again, denying they’ve done anything, and are saying that the postseason balls are the same as the regular season balls despite acting entirely differently. Then again, MLB spend months trying to tell us there was nothing special or different about the 2019 regular season balls, either.
Teams like the Twins rode the juiced ball to the postseason. Minnesota crushed the previous record for homers in a season: they surpassed that mark of 267 on August 31, and then finished their campaign with 307 bombs. Twins, whose strategy for victory was to hit dingers and let a stellar bullpen do the rest, were swept by the Yankees in the ALDS. Their team, which featured 11 different players with at least 10 homers, had their most significant advantage removed just in time for their toughest and most important matchup of the year.
That brings us back to the Astros and Nationals, teams which did rely on pitching during the regular season. The loss of the juiced ball meant little to them, compared to what it did to the poor Twins. The Nationals made it to October on the strength of a rotation that featured perennial Cy Young contender Max Scherzer doing his usual thing, Stephen Strasburg reminding the Nats why they signed him to a lucrative extension, free agent acquisition Patrick Corbin improving on the work that earned him a $140 million deal this past winter, and the inexplicably revitalized Aníbal Sánchez, who has produced some of the best work of his career the last two seasons in his mid-30s after escaping Detroit.