Watch Now: Astros headed to World Series showdown with Nationals (2:15)

The 2019 World Series will pit the American League champion Houston Astros against the National League champion Washington Nationals (93-69). The Astros, who set a franchise record for wins (107-55) during the regular season, earned their spot by vanquishing the Yankees in six games in the ALCS. The Nationals, who finished their regular season at 93-69, won the pennant with a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS, and they've made it this far despite being a wild card team. 

Here are 10 things you need to know heading into Game 1 on Tuesday night -- stream all games via fuboTV (Try for free).      

1. The Astros are the better team

Yes, this is an obvious thing to say, but it bears emphasizing. During the regular season, the Astros were 14 games better than the Nationals against a comparable schedule in terms of opponents' average winning percentage. Another indicator of quality is run differential. You can take a team's run allowed, subtract it from their runs scored, and calculate what their record should have been based on those inputs. If you do that for these two World Series combatants, then the Astros come out 12 games ahead. 

As well, we can look at the BaseRuns standings available at FanGraphs, which is correct for some of the sequencing and clustering effects inherent in run differential. Basically, it's a measure of how good a team is at controlling the fundamental outcomes of the batter-pitcher encounter. It yields what a team's record should be based on core skills. Per BaseRuns, the Astros were 12 games better than the Nats during the regular season -- i.e., the same margin as that of run differential. 

What helps the Nationals' cause is how they've played since getting past their early struggles. At the close of play on May 23, the Nats were 12 games below .500. From that point forward, however, they played .661 ball, which over the course of a full season scales to a 107-win pace. You'll, of course, recognize the number "107" as the Astros' win total during the regular season. Convenient end points aside, the Astros are rightly heavy favorites going in. 

2. Houston has home-field advantage

By virtue of the superior regular season record, the Astros have home-field advantage in this World Series. That essentially boils down to the right to host a deciding Game 7. This season, the Astros were an MLB-best 60-21 at home during the regular season, and thus far in the playoffs they're 5-1 at Minute Maid Park. The Nationals in 2019 were 43-38 on the road during the regular season and 4-1 so far in the playoffs. Make of those numbers what you will. 

3. If you love starting pitching, then this is the series for you    

Feast thine eyes upon the likely pitching matchups for the first three games of this series: 

Game 1: Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole
Game 2: Stephen Strasburg vs. Justin Verlander
Game 3: Zack Greinke vs. Patrick Corbin

When it comes to starting pitching, that's an embarrassment of riches. Our own Matt Snyder recently wrote about this very subject. Here's an excerpt that sums it up nicely: 

The group has combined for 29 All-Star Games, five Cy Youngs (with a sixth coming soon) and five ERA titles. Strasburg and Cole were both No. 1 overall picks, Verlander went second overall, Greinke went sixth and Scherzer went 11th. 

All that in one series for the belt and the title. What's more is that if the series goes the full seven games, then we'll likely get to see each one of these matchups twice. 

4. The Astros' offense struggled against the Yankees

During the regular season, the Astros led the AL in OPS and ranked third in runs scored. Given that their lineup is typically peppered with names like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley, that's to be expected. In the ALCS, however, the Astros across those six games batted just .179/.281/.318 with 54 strikeouts. Yes, the sample size is small, but those are deep struggles against a pitching staff that frankly wasn't all that strong. It's possible that the Astros in general are having trouble adapting to that deadened playoff baseball. If that's the case, then they have concerns as they get set to take on the NL's most dominant rotation. 

As long as we're talking offense, the Nationals during the regular season ranked second in OPS in the NL and second in runs scored. Like other postseason teams, they're offensive numbers have declined since the calendar flipped to October, but they haven't reached the depths the Astros have.

5. This might be the last time you see these three stars in their current uniforms

We won't worry too much about the 2019-20 class of free agents until we crown a champion, but we do know that both Astros ace and Game 1 starter Gerrit Cole and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon will be the two biggest names on the board. As well, Nats No. 2 man Stephen Strasburg has an opt-out in his contract, and given the strength of his 2019 campaign he seems likely to use it. Their current teams may be unwilling to pay the going rates, which means Cole, Rendon and Strasburg will probably be playing elsewhere next season. Before that, though, one of these three might well wind up with World Series MVP laurels. 

6. You might be watching the AL MVP, AL Cy Young winner and AL Rookie of the Year in this series

Verlander is probably going to win the AL Cy Young award, and Alex Bregman is a strong candidate for AL MVP honors. As well Yordan Alvarez -- never mind his playoff struggles for the moment -- is probably going to be the AL Rookie of the Year. To tie it altogether, the Astros are trying to become the first team ever to win the World Series and have players on its roster win the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year all in the same season. The Nats, of course, will try to ensure the voters don't have a chance to make that happen. 

7. The Nationals are coming more rested than the Astros

Since the Nats swept the Cardinals, they'll have had six days of rest and recuperation by the time Game 1 of the World Series starts. The Astros, in contrast, will be coming in on just two days of rest. There's probably a point at which it's possible to have too long of a layoff, but a cursory examination of World Series history suggests six days off doesn't rise to that level. After a long regular season and two rounds of high-stress playoff baseball, additional rest is probably better. This could especially be the case for Washington, given its lack of bullpen depth. 

8. The Nationals are trying to win the World Series for the first time in franchise history

The Nats, of course, trace their roots to the Montreal Expos, who played their first season back in 1969. Under the banner of the Expos, they played in the NLCS only once, in 1981, and fell to the Dodgers. After the move to Washington, the Nationals tried and failed four time to advance beyond the LDS round. Only this year, on their fifth try, did they make it to the NLCS. So fresh off the first pennant in franchise history, they'll attempt to win the first World Series in franchise history. Right now, the Expos/Nats are alongside the Mariners, Rockies, Padres, Rangers, Rays and Brewers as the only teams never to win the championship. 

On the other side, the Astros are going for their second title in franchise history, and their second championship in the last three years. 

9. Our projection system thinks Houston will win

So what does the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) say about the 2019 World Series? After running thousands of simulations of the series in question, SportsLine gives the Astros a 69.3 percent chance of hoisting the trophy in the end. Most bookmakers see the Astros as roughly a 2:1 favorite, so our SportsLine sims are actually a bit higher on Houston than the oddsmakers. Do what you will with this information. 

10. The better team doesn't always win the World Series

Need cause for hope, Nats backers? Despair not. This is baseball, and baseball has a great deal of structural parity and reliance on randomness. All of that renders favorites ripe for the toppling. The World Series is evidence of this phenomenon. Indeed, the team with the worse record has gone 25-24 in the last 50 World Series (in the 2013 World Series, the Cardinals and Red Sox had the same regular-season record, so that's why the record just noted adds up to 49). To be sure, the regular record isn't a perfect way to determine which team is superior, even in the era of interleague play, but it makes the general point. And the general point is that over the last 50 years, the team with the worse regular-season record has won a (narrow) majority of the World Series in which the two combatants had different records. 

Take heart, Nats. Keep a secure perimeter, Astros. 


Below is the full schedule for this year's best-of-seven Fall Classic: 

DATEMATCHUP/RESULTTIME (E.T.)TVVENUE

Oct. 22

Washington at Houston

8 p.m.

Fox

Minute Maid Park

Oct. 23

Washington at Houston

8 p.m.

Fox

Minute Maid Park

Oct. 25

Houston at Washington

8 p.m.

Fox

Nationals Park

Oct. 26

Houston at Washington

8 p.m.

Fox

Nationals Park

Oct. 27

*Houston at Washington

8 p.m.

Fox

Nationals Park

Oct. 29

*Washington at Houston

8 p.m.

Fox

Minute Maid Park

Oct. 30

*Washington at Houston

8 p.m.

Fox

Minute Maid Park

* -- if necessary