Those who choose to take a break from football for the next week or so may end up viewing a classic World Series between the American League champion Houston Astros and the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The matchup starts Friday in Houston as the Astros earned the home field advantage by amassing the most wins (106) in the American League and among the two teams. Houston enters the World Series having swept both of its postseason series. The Astros eliminated the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.

The Phillies entered playoff action by way of the wild card as the sixth seed with only 87 wins. The Fightin Phils have ridden an incredible wave of momentum by disposing of the Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres.

Houston Astros

Houston Astros

The Astros are making their fourth appearance in the World Series in the last six years. They have only captured one title. It came in 2017 and many view it as tainted due to the infamous trash can cheating scandal. You know they would love to win another one to help erase the reputation many give them as cheaters.

One advantage the Phillies have is that they have gotten hot at just the right moment. Two of Houston’s World Series setbacks came to late-surging teams. The Astros fell to the Atlanta Braves last year and the Washington Nationals in 2019.

Both teams have excellent starting pitching, but the Astros have an advantage due to their depth. Houston will start two Cy Young candidates in Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez. Astros starters combined for the second-best regular season ERA (2.95) and have a 2.77 postseason ERA. The bullpen depth is just as impressive with an MLB leading 2.80 ERA during the regular season. Astros relievers have pitched to an impressive 0.82 ERA and converted 100% of save opportunities.

The Phillies have two excellent starters of their own in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Phillies starters posted a 3.80 regular-season ERA and own a 2.96 postseason ERA.

The difference could be the relief pitching. Philadelphia’s bullpen was up and down during the regular season, recording a 4.37 ERA and numerous blown saves. It’s been much better of late, converting four of five save opportunities with a 3.19 postseason ERA.

The Phillies offense has been better than Houston’s thus far in postseason play. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins have each belted five homers while Kyle Schwarber has added another three long balls.
Something has to give as Houston has yet to lose a playoff game and the Phillies have yet to lose at home.

The Astros are heavy favorites as they won almost 20 more games than Philadelphia during the regular season. They also have the pitching edge. They will need that edge as the Phillies have the better lineup when it comes to offense.

I am looking for the unexpected and am taking Philadelphia in seven games. The Phillies being here was completely unexpected as they fired their manager, Joe Girardi, in May after a slow start. Their unexpected appearance in the World Series will lead to a championship.