What we've learned so far from the 2021 World Series
There’s been a great deal of action packed into the first two games of the 2021 World Series. The Atlanta Braves were able to steal Game 1 on the road, but the Houston Astros responded with an emphatic Game 2 triumph.
Here are our Top 5 takeaways from the first two games of the Fall Classic.
Charlie Morton is a gamer
Braves Game 1 starter Charlie Morton left after 2 1/3 innings due to an injury suffered on a comebacker that turned out to be a fractured right fibula. But the incredible thing is that Morton took the comebacker in the second inning, and went back out for the third frame.
Morton was able to strike out Chas McCormick, get Maldonado to line out, then returned and struck out Jose Altuve before the pain became too much to bear in the third inning. If the Braves win this World Series, Morton will be held up as a symbol of Atlanta’s “never say die” attitude.
Bullpens will be more important than ever down the stretch
The injury to Morton did major damage to the Braves’ pitching plans, and they may have to go with two “bullpen games” in Games 4 and 5, unless they wheel back Max Fried on short rest after an uninspiring Game 2 outing.
As for the Astros, Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia have shown flashes of brilliance, but also ineptitude throughout the playoffs, inducing early action from the bullpen on several occasions.
Neither relief corps has cracked through the first two games of this series, but that could change with overwork of certain arms as the Fall Classic rolls on.
Both lineups are as deep as they are talented
Offense has not been in short supply in this World Series, but respective LCS MVPs Eddie Rosario and Yordan Alvarez have not dominated proceedings. The former took an 0-for-4 in Game 2 to curtail his 11-game postseason hitting streak, while the latter has begun the series 1-for-5 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
It’s been the bottom of the lineups that have delivered some surprising pop through the first two contests. In Game 1, Braves No. 6 hitter Adam Duvall hit a two-run bomb, and in Game 2, No. 7 hitter Travis d’Arnaud homered. The Astros’ Nos. 7, 8, and 9 hitters – Yuli Gurriel, Jose Siri, and Martin Maldonado – all had an RBI in Game 2.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues as the series shifts to Atlanta.
Small ball strategy can still win games
Through two games, this World Series has flown in the face of those who say baseball has become a “three true outcomes” (strikeout, walk, or home run) sport. The Braves hit a pair of longballs in Game 1, driving in three total runs in their 6-2 triumph. In Game 2, Atlanta and Houston traded solo shots in a 7-2 Astros victory. All the while, “small ball” has played a major factor.
Six of the 17 runs plated in the World Series thus far have come on “productive outs,” and arguably the most impactful play of the series – Maldonado’s RBI single in the fourth inning of Game 2 that eventually plated Siri on a throwing error – was a good example of why “heads-up baserunning” still matters.
Soler no worse for wear following COVID list stint
Those wondering if Jorge Soler would make an impact at DH for the Braves were answered almost instantaneously in Game 1, as he became the first player to begin the World Series with a leadoff homer. He later drove in an RBI via groundout, and singled to cap off a solid Game 1, before reaching base with a double in Game 2.
Braves manager Brian Snitker faces a difficult decision with Soler as the series shifts to a National League ballpark for Games 3, 4, and 5. Soler doesn’t bring great outfield defense to the table, but can Atlanta afford to leave him on the bench?