2019 World Series predictions, picks: Will Nationals shock Astros and win first-ever championship?

On Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros will kick off the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. The best-of-seven series will shift to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. beginning with Game 3 and extending through Game 5. Here's everything you need to know about the Fall Classic.

The Astros earned home-field advantage with the superior regular-season record. To reach this point in the playoffs, they had to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the divisional round and the New York Yankees in six in the ALCS. Gerrit Cole is scheduled to start Game 1 for the Astros, with Justin Verlander taking the mound in Game 2 and Zack Greinke in Game 3. Game 4 pitching plans for Houston is still an uncertainty.

The Nationals won the NL Wild Card Game against the Milwaukee Brewers, then defeated the top seed Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the divisional round before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS to win the pennant. The Nationals haven't announced their rotation plans yet, but it's expected that Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will start the first three games in some order or another. 

Below, you'll find our staff-wide predictions for the World Series, including picks for the team winner and the Most Valuable Player.

Dayn Perry's pick: Nationals in seven

Why the Nationals will win: Partly and admittedly, this is just gut feeling. That said, I like the Nats having extra rest, especially considering their top-heavy bullpen. I also think the Astros' bats will struggle against the Nats' rotation, especially given the deadened playoff baseball. The extent to which Houston hitters struggled against the inferior Yankees' pitching staff in the ALCS is playing a role here. I expect this to be a low-scoring series, and the slim margins and variance built in to low-scoring games may benefit the underdogs. Mostly, I expect the difference to be Patrick Corbin out-pitching Zack Greinke in their (likely) two head-to-head starts. MVP: Corbin.

Matt Snyder's pick: Nationals in seven

Why the Nationals will win: The Astros are the better team, but their offense hasn't been what it was in the regular season and the obviously-altered baseball has a lot to do with it. The Nationals' rotation is unlike anything the Astros have seen and they are all on extra rest. The Nats continue with their timely hitting while the rotation does what is expected. MVP: Strasburg.

Mike Axisa's pick: Astros in five

Why the Astros will win: The Nationals have an incredible rotation, but the Astros are one of the few teams (maybe the only team) that can match it man for man, and I think Houston is better at literally everything else. Better offense, better defense, better baserunning, better bullpen, better manager. I don't worry much about the Astros struggling offensively against the Yankees. I like to bet on talent and the Astros are the more talented team. MVP: Carlos Correa.

R.J. Anderson's pick: Astros in six

Why the Astros will win: The Astros were the better team throughout the regular season and faced a tougher slate to get here. I think it's worth noting that they're now operating without a fourth starter and with a slightly worse bullpen, depending on Ryan Pressly's well-being, which means the gap between these clubs isn't as large as it might otherwise appear. Even with that concession -- and noting that anything can happen in a best-of-seven series -- I'll pick the Astros. MVP: George Springer.

Katherine Acquavella's pick: Astros in six

Why the Astros will win: While the wild-card Nationals' run to the World Series is impressive, the Astros simply appear to be the better-equipped team. The Nats will be able to counter with a dominant pitching staff of their own for the best-of-seven series, but overall, the Astros have more depth. There's also the factor of Houston playing excellent while at home. They were a MLB-best 60-21 in the regular season, and over the past three postseasons, they're 15-5 at Minute Maid Park. I'll predict that the Astros will go undefeated at home for this World Series, and manage to steal one while in D.C. I think Houston will complete their quest for a second World Series title in three seasons. MVP: Correa.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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