The Houston Astros got to Max Fried early and coasted to a 7-2 victory in Game 2 of the World Series. We’re down to a best-of-five with the teams tied at 1-1 and now the series shifts to Atlanta, where the Astros will have to make some tough decisions in the field without the luxury of the DH. The Braves will hope some home cooking can get them back on track.
It will be Ian Anderson for the Braves and Luis Garcia for the Astros as a pivotal Game 3 takes place on Friday night at 8:09 p.m. ET. The winner will be halfway to making history and the loser will suffer a sizable setback.
Game 3: Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves (-110, 8.5)
The Braves achieved what they had hoped to accomplish in Houston. They took home field advantage in the series away from the favored Astros, but it came at a cost. The early exit for Charlie Morton cast a dark cloud over the Game 1 win and a subpar start from Fried in game 2 didn’t really help either.
At least Fried was able to battle his way through five innings after allowing five runs over the first two innings. He put up three scoreless frames to end his outing and spared the bullpen, which could be important as the series goes along. It could be important for Game 3, as Atlanta sends the 23-year-old right-hander Anderson to the hill. Anderson had a solid 3.58 ERA with a 4.12 FIP during the regular season and has been strong in three postseason starts with three runs allowed on nine hits in 12 innings.
Anderson is a little bit of a wild card for the Braves in this start. He’s always carried high strikeout rates on his way to the Majors and has over a strikeout per inning at the big league level, but walk problems have followed him around as well. He’s typically a guy that tilts to the ground ball side, but that hasn’t quite been the case in his postseason starts.
He throws in the mid-90s and relies heavily on a changeup that he throws over 31 percent of the time. His curveball was not an effective pitch this season, so we’ll see if he attacks the Astros with a fastball/changeup combination. If that’s the case, not only is his control under the microscope, but especially his command with primarily two pitches at his disposal.
The first couple of innings are going to be really important for Anderson. The first time through the order, he allowed a .250/.341/.431 slash (BA/OBP/SLG) with nine of his 16 home runs against. The second time through the order, he allowed a .175/.256/.265 slash and only two home runs. Once he gets settled in, he’s very effective, but he did have some starts in which he struggled to get comfortable. With the enormous stakes in this game, we should know pretty quickly which version of Anderson we will get.
The Astros will pin their hopes on Garcia, who has struggled thus far in the postseason with 10 runs allowed on eight hits in 9.1 innings of work. The walk has been a major problem with seven free passes out of 44 batters. Garcia didn’t have much of a walk issue during the regular season and struck out well over a batter per inning, but his control has evaded him in the playoffs.
Garcia had a strong 3.30 ERA with a 3.63 FIP in 155.1 innings during the regular season. Garcia may simply be a little bit too jacked up, as his increased fastball velocity seems to have led to some problems finding the zone. He could be overthrowing a bit and the Astros will have to try to get him to scale back a little bit in the interest of locating his pitches.
Both bullpens will be fine going into Game 3 thanks to the Thursday travel day, so it really comes down to the starters and the team that is set up for more success. Both pitchers have some concerns heading into this one. Both lineups have struggled to make contact in this series with 23 combined strikeouts in each of the first two games.
A coin flip seems like a fair line for Game 3. It is worth noting that even with the strikeouts, we’ve had game totals of 8 and 9 to this point, even though the teams have combined to go 7-for-35 with runners in scoring position.
I’m looking at the over in Game 3. The weather forecast at Truist Park does not look great, but these two teams have combined for 36 hits should be able to start generating a little more offense with some timelier hitting. We could also see a few more walks in this game, given the two starting pitchers. The Astros will also be at a defensive disadvantage with Yordan Alvarez pushed out to left field with the absence of the DH thanks to the NL ground rules.
The chances should be there for runs and hopefully the offenses will cash in.
Pick: Over 8.5