Astros vs. Nationals: 2019 World Series offers historically great showdown of starting pitching

The World Series is upon us and it looks to be an exciting matchup. We've got two teams full of fun players to watch. The Astros are looking to kickstart dynasty talk while the Nationals are looking for the first World Series title in franchise history. One of the many reasons this series will be fun is the rotations are historically good. 

Let's take a deeper look at each team's arsenal of arms.

Nationals

  • Stephen Strasburg: 18-6, 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 251 K, 52 BB*, 209 IP, 6.3 WAR
  • Max Scherzer: 11-7, 2.92 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 243 K, 31 BB, 172 1/3 IP, 5.8 WAR
  • Patrick Corbin: 14-7, 3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 238 K, 68 BB, 202 IP, 5.4 WAR
  • Anibal Sanchez: 11-8, 3.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 134 K, 48 BB, 166 IP, 3.3 WAR

There are 12 All-Star Games, three Cy Youngs and an ERA title (you wouldn't believe it was Sanchez, would you?) here. 

Astros

  • Gerrit Cole: 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 326 K, 48 BB, 212 1/3 IP, 6.9 WAR
  • Justin Verlander: 21-6, 2.58 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 300 K, 42 BB, 223 IP, 7.8 WAR
  • Zack Greinke: 18-5, 2.93 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 187 K, 28 BB, 208 2/3 IP, 6.4 WAR

There are 17 All-Star Games, four ERA titles, an MVP and two Cy Youngs here. We can probably say three Cy Youngs, too, since the 2019 award is likely going to either Verlander or Cole. 

*All walks listed are including unintentional walks only 

In this group there are two surefire Hall of Famers (Verlander and Scherzer) and Greinke has a good shot at well. You could also talk yourself into Strasburg and/or Cole making it eventually. 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. 

This group is simply stellar. 

Some might disagree, but in going back through the playoff rotations of all the World Series teams in the divisional era (after the 1994 strike), this is the best matchup. Most of the time there was a stacked rotation, the other side didn't quite match. Here are some of the best ones. 

[Note: I'm not necessarily listing the pitchers in the order they threw in the World Series]

2018

Dodgers: Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill
Red Sox: Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez

2012

Tigers: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister
Giants: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito

2005

White Sox: Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras
Astros: Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Brandon Backe

2003

Marlins: Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, Mark Redman
Yankees: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, David Wells

2001

Diamondbacks: Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Miguel Batista, Brian Anderson
Yankees: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez

1999

Braves: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood
Yankees: Roger Clemens, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez

I think our best bets for comparison to this year are 1999 and 2001. There's probably an argument that those were as good or even better, but 2019 is definitely in the conversation.

We could go back further than the divisional era and it would hold up quite well for a while. This is a historically good matchup of starting pitching in the World Series. Get excited! 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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