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Right now, we’re sitting in the calm before the storm. With both the Astros and Braves wrapping up their respective League Championship Series in only six games, there’s a couple of off-days baked into the playoff schedule before the World Series begins on Tuesday night in Houston.
For the Braves, it’s their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1999. For the Astros, it’s their third trip in the last five seasons.
Game 1 will pit Braves’ 37-year-old right-hander Charlie Morton against Astros’ 27-year-old southpaw Framber Valdez. Morton is winless in three starts this postseason, compiling a 3.77 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 19/8 K/BB ratio across 14 1/3 innings. He has given up exactly two run in each of his three starts, though he really struggled with his command the last time out -- issuing six free passes in 4 1/3 innings during Game 3 of the NLCS.
Valdez on the other hand, has been mediocre in his three starts, posting a 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 13/5 K/BB ratio over his 15 frames. The left-hander really struggled in each of his first two starts though, before delivering eight masterful innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS.
On the Astros side, both Martin Maldonado and Jose Altuve have had tremendous success against Morton in their respective careers. The Astros’ backstop is hitting a blistering .533 (8-for-15) with a pair of doubles and a 2/6 K/BB ratio against the veteran hurler. Altuve is hitting .316 (6-for-19) with a pair of homers and three RBI.
For the Braves, Valdez is much more of an unknown commodity. As a team, Braves hiters have totaled just 10 plate appearances against the southpaw -- with NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario leading the way with four. He’s 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout against Valdez.
As of now, the betting markets are siding with Dusty Baker and the Astros here, as they’re a -145 favorite to bring home the title.
Cardinals tab Oliver Marmol as Manager
According to Katie Woo and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cardinals plan to announce the hiring of Oliver Marmol as their next manager at a press conference on Monday morning at 10 AM.
Marmol, 35, will become the youngest manager in Major League Baseball. Extremely well-respected in the Cardinals organization, he began his career with the club back in 2011 as the hitting coach for the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. He was promoted to be the third base coach at the big league level in 2017 and then took over as the bench coach under previous manager Mike Shildt entering the 2019 season.
Marmol had been rumored to be the top candidate for the sudden and unexpected vacancy following the firing of Shildt on October 14 due to “philosophical differences”.
Since the rest of the coaching staff remained intact after Shildt’s dismissal, it seemed incredibly likely that the team would hire their next manager from within. He’s got some big shoes to fill though, as Shildt guided the team to postseason berths in each of his three seasons at the helm.
MLB Quick Hits: Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager told reporters on Sunday that he would love to return to Los Angeles next season. While the sentiment is nice, the 27-year-old will be highly sought after on the free agent market this off-season and should land an incredibly lucrative contract. … The Astros have yet to make a decision on the status of Jake Meyers (shoulder) heading into the World Series. Meyers suffered a setback with his injured shoulder during the ALCS and it’s starting to look unlikely that he’ll be carried on the World Series roster. Chas McCormick and Jose Siri would continue to man center field in his absence. … It’s also highly unlikely that Lance McCullers (forearm) is included on the roster. The right-hander has yet to resume throwing since being shut down and it would take a minor miracle for him to show enough improvement before Tuesday’s roster deadline to warrant inclusion on the roster. … While the Astros have yet to announce their pitching plans beyond Game 1 of the series, it’s expected that Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy will start Games 2 and 3 respectively, with Zack Greinke a strong possibility to pitch in Game 4. ... Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Padres are "locked in" on hiring Indians assistant pitching coach Ruben Niebla as their next pitching coach.