Make no mistake, the Nationals are a formidable foe

5 reasons the Astros will win their second World Series title

photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Astros and Washington Nationals square off in the World Series with a championship on the line. While the Astros are favored, the teams are closer than many think, and the Nats have that "team of destiny" look about them. But if all things are equal, the Astros should squeak out a victory. Here are five reasons it could happen:

1) Been there, done that

The one big edge the Astros have is they have been here before. The core players were all part of the 2017 title, and the stage will not be too big for them. A.J. Hinch has managed the team to a title before, so there should be no surprises. Make no mistake, the biggest stage can cause even the best players to wither. (Just ask Yordan Alvarez about that ALCS). So experience is huge, and the Astros have a big edge here.

2) Tougher path?

The Nationals upset a Dodgers juggernaut in five games in round 1. Make no mistake, that was no small feat. But the Cardinals put up little fight in the NLCS, allowing the Nationals to coast to the Series. Meanwhile, the Astros survived a five-game dogfight with a deep Tampa pitching staff, and knocked off perhaps the second best team in baseball by beating the 103 win Yankees in six games. They faced adversity in a big way twice and came out ahead. They will face a tough bunch of starting pitchers in Washington, but they have also faced strong arms in the first two series.

3) The bullpen. Yes, that bullpen

The Nationals may have an edge at starting pitcher as they go four deep as opposed to the Astros three, and all of them are pretty evenly matched with the Astros starters. But Houston has the better, deeper bullpen, and the later they get with a lead, the better chance they will have to win games than the Nationals. The pen was overmatched against Tampa and New York. It won't be against Washington.

4) The better lineup

Again, the Nationals are no joke. Anthony Rendon is a legitimate MVP candidate. Howie Kendrick has been a postseason savage. Juan Soto is one of the best young hitters in the game. But the Astros lineup top to bottom is more talented. They have not played like it in the postseason, but some of these guys are way overdue to wake up. Alex Bregman in particular is due for a breakout. And if they can get Alvarez going...

5) Jose Altuve and the offense

Despite the lineup's postseason struggles, Altuve has been consistent, effective and clutch. If nothing else, the Astros can depend on him no matter what. If any of George Springer, Carlos Correa, Bregman, Yuli Gurriel and Alvarez get going, the Astros should have enough offense to get by.

The bottom line

Washington can absolutely win this series. Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg are every bit the match for Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Beating the Dodgers was no fluke. This team was every bit as good as the Astros over the second half of the season. But thanks to the five reasons listed above, the Astros should be able to pull it out. If not, there will be no shame in losing to this team and it has still been a hell of a year. But it very well could - and should - end with the ultimate prize.

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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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