How the Nationals and Astros match up in the World Series

Kurt Suzuki (Rob Carr/Getty Images)


Kurt Suzuki vs. Robinson Chirinos

Nationals: Suzuki is Max Scherzer’s personal catcher and a respected game-caller. He struggles to throw anyone out on the bases (45 for 50 steals allowed). Yan Gomes, the catcher acquired to platoon with Suzuki, struggled for most of the season offensively (.223 batting average) and defensively (10 passed balls) but captured a spark in late September that continued into the postseason. He will catch Patrick Corbin and maybe Stephen Strasburg.

Astros: For Houston, catcher is essentially a timeshare, with Chirinos catching Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke and Martín Maldonado usually catching Gerrit Cole.

Ryan Zimmerman (Illustration by Cristiano Siqueira for The Washington Post)

First base

Ryan Zimmerman vs. Yuli Gurriel

Nationals: Zimmerman, an original National, missed most of this season with plantar fasciitis in his right foot but returned in time for the playoffs. He’s now raking, starting against right- and left-handers.

Astros: A mainstay for Houston since 2017, Gurriel became a home run threat in 2019, as shown by 31 regular season blasts and a three-run shot in the Game 6 clincher against the Yankees.

José Altuve (Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press)

Second base

Howie Kendrick vs. José Altuve

Nationals: The 36-year-old Kendrick rebounded from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon last season with one of the best years of his career. His grand slam in Game 5 of the National League Division Series is probably the greatest moment in team history.

Astros: Altuve, Houston’s smallest player (5-foot-6), is also the one whom opponents least want to see at the plate in big moments, as Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman can attest.

Carlos Correa (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)


Trea Turner vs. Carlos Correa

Nationals: Turner is the prototypical leadoff hitter with a solid on-base average (.353) and speed to swipe a base.

Astros: A back injury limited Correa to three regular season games after Aug. 19, but in October he has fully returned to his role of playmaker on defense and deep threat on offense.

Anthony Rendon (Illustration by Cristiano Siqueira for The Washington Post)

Third base

Anthony Rendon vs. Alex Bregman

Nationals: Rendon is an NL MVP candidate with a .319 batting average, 34 homers and a major league-leading 126 RBI in addition to 44 doubles, tied for tops in the NL. He will be a free agent this offseason, but Nationals owner Mark Lerner recently said, “We certainly want to keep him.”

Astros: A favorite for American League MVP honors, Bregman had a quiet AL Championship Series against Yankees (3 for 18, one RBI) but still drew seven walks and scored four runs.

Juan Soto (Illustration by Cristiano Siqueira for The Washington Post)

Left field

Juan Soto vs. Michael Brantley

Nationals: Soto, the 20-year-old phenom, has effectively replaced Bryce Harper’s production in the lineup (.282 average, 34 home runs). His defense is average and at times shaky.

Astros: The only lefty bat certain to be in Houston’s lineup in every game, Brantley had an on-base-plus-slugging percentage against right-handers (.928) that was nearly 200 points higher than against lefties.

George Springer (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Center field

Victor Robles vs. George Springer

Nationals: The energetic 22-year-old Robles offers speed on the bases and Gold Glove-caliber defense.

Astros: Springer, Houston’s leadoff man, gets on base like a table-setter (.383 this year) but slugs like a cleanup hitter (.591) and also contributes excellent defense.

Josh Reddick (Scott Kane/Getty Images)

Right field

Adam Eaton vs. Josh Reddick

Nationals: Eaton tires pitchers out with long at-bats and forces them to show their arsenal. He also bunts regularly.

Astros: Houston typically platoons, so it could be Jake Marisnick or rookie Kyle Tucker starting against lefty Patrick Corbin in Game 3.

Aledmys Díaz (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)


Nationals: Washington is balanced with options to match up (switch hitter Asdrúbal Cabrera), pinch-run (Michael A. Taylor) and improve defensively (second baseman Brian Dozier). Dozier or Cabrera could start at second base at Minute Maid Park, where Kendrick can serve as a designated hitter. They also could bet on boom-or-bust Matt Adams in the DH role.

Astros: Yordan Alvarez, the presumptive AL rookie of the year, has struggled mightily this month (7 for 41, 19 strikeouts), which could put him on the Houston bench for Games 3 through 5. Aledmys Díaz, who had a .271 batting average, a .356 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage, is the top pinch-hit option on Houston’s bench.

Stephen Strasburg (Illustration by Cristiano Siqueira for The Washington Post)

Starting pitching

Nationals: The Nationals’ rotation is the backbone of the roster with $525 million committed to the top three — Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin — and the occasional brilliance of Aníbal Sánchez. Their work in relief has keyed the Nationals’ resurgent bullpen.

Astros: For Houston, Gerrit Cole is the ideal Game 1 starter, having been unbeatable (18-0 with a 1.66 ERA) since May 22. He and Justin Verlander almost certainly will finish 1-2 in AL Cy Young voting. Zack Greinke went 18-5 this year between Arizona and Houston but has looked vulnerable in the postseason. Rookie Jose Urquidy has made a strong case for a Game 4 start, but the Astros also could reprise the bullpen game concept they used against the Yankees.

Sean Doolittle (Illustration by Cristiano Siqueira for The Washington Post)

Relief pitching

Nationals: Washington Manager Dave Martinez trusts two arms — Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle — and tries to avoid almost everyone else in high-leverage spots. Tanner Rainey, whose fastball touches 101 mph, could play an important role in this series.

Astros: Will Harris, Joe Smith and Ryan Pressly are Houston Manager A.J. Hinch’s top leverage guys ahead of Roberto Osuna, his closer. But Pressly tweaked his knee in Game 6 of the ALCS and is a question mark for the World Series. Osuna had a terrific year but blew the save in Game 6 of the ALCS in spectacular fashion. The Astros went without a lefty against the Yankees but could add Wade Miley to match up with Juan Soto late in games.