Tuesday night, the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves begin the 2021 World Series with Game 1 at Minute Maid Park. The Astros beat the White Sox in the ALDS and the Red Sox in the ALCS to win their third pennant in five years. The Braves beat the Brewers in the NLDS and the Dodgers in the NLCS to clinch their first World Series berth since 1999. .
As required, the Astros and Braves submitted their 26-man World Series roster to Major League Baseball on Tuesday morning, then announced them to the public a few hours later. Each club made a notable change to the roster, so let's break them down.
- Starters (3): RHP Luis Garcia, RHP José Urquidy, LHP Framber Valdez
- Relievers (10): RHP Yimi Garcia, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Cristian Javier, RHP Phil Maton, RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Ryan Pressly, LHP Brooks Raley, RHP Ryne Stanek, LHP Blake Taylor
- Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Martin Maldonado
- Infielders (6): Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz, Marwin Gonzalez, Yuli Gurriel
- Outfielders (5): Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley, Chas McCormick, Jose Siri, Kyle Tucker
First things first: Houston will use a fourth starter at some point in the World Series even though only three are listed here. Manager Dusty Baker acknowledged Odorizzi was going to start ALCS Game 4 before he was needed in long relief in Game 2. Greinke got the Game 4 start instead. Right now, Odorizzi would seem to be the mostly likely candidate to start Game 4.
Outfielder Jake Meyers, who suffered a shoulder injury during the ALDS and a setback during the ALCS, was dropped from the roster and Gonzalez was added in his place. Gonzalez started the season with the Red Sox and was released in August after hitting .202/.281/.285 in 271 plate appearances. The Astros picked him up a few days later and he went 6 for 34 (.176) with Houston.
Gonzalez is extremely versatile (he played every position except catcher and center field this year) and he's on the postseason roster in part because he has some punch against left-handed pitching, and Atlanta's bullpen is loaded with quality lefties. Here are Gonzalez's 2021 splits:
Also, as a right-handed hitter, Gonzalez pulls the ball nearly 50 percent of the time, and the Crawford Boxes in Houston beckon. Realistically, McCormick and Maldonado are the only two players in the Astros' regular lineup who are candidates to be removed for a pinch-hitter, and they're both righties. Gonzalez is more of an emergency option than a legitimate pinch-hitting weapon.
- Starters (3): RHP Ian Anderson, LHP Max Fried, RHP Charlie Morton
- Relievers (9): RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Luke Jackson, LHP Dylan Lee, RHP Chris Martin, LHP Tyler Matzek, RHP AJ Minter, LHP Will Smith, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Kyle Wright
- Catchers (2): William Contreras, Travis d'Arnaud
- Infielders (6): Ehire Adrianza, Ozzie Albies, Orlando Arcia, Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson
- Outfielders (6): Adam Duvall, Terrance Gore, Guillermo Heredia, Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler
The Braves made two changes to their World Series roster, dropping righty Jacob Webb and utility man Johan Camargo in favor of Wright and Gore. Wright spend most of the season in Triple-A and allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 big league innings. He is stretched out though, and he gives Atlanta a proper long reliever should they need someone to soak up innings at some point.
As for Gore, the speedster didn't appear in a single regular season game with the Braves (he spent the year in Triple-A), though he was on their NLDS roster as a pinch-runner. That will be his role in the World Series. Gore is blazing fast (41 for 51 stealing bases in MLB) and this is his fourth World Series as a pinch-running specialist (previously 2014 Royals, 2015 Royals, 2020 Dodgers).
Atlanta's Game 4 starter remains up in the air. They used a bullpen game in NLCS Game 4 with Chavez serving as an opener and Smyly chewing up bulk innings in relief. Depending how Games 1-3 play out, the Braves could do something similar in Game 4 of the World Series. Wright gives them another long relief option, though he is presumably the last guy in the bullpen.
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