HOUSTON (AP) – The starting rotations for the World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are filled with former Cy Young winners and first-round draft picks.
Game 1 featured a pair of starting pitchers who were first-round draft picks – and so will Game 2. Two of the hurlers were No. 1 overall picks.
Gerrit Cole, a first-round pick both out of high school and then first overall out of college, was on the mound for the Houston Astros in the World Series opener Tuesday night against Washington. Three-time Cy Young winner and 2006 first-round pick Max Scherzer started for the Nationals.
Cole was picked 28th overall by the New York Yankees in 2008 but opted to go to UCLA and was selected first overall by Pittsburgh three years later. Scherzer was picked 11th overall by Arizona in 2006. He won the 2013 AL Cy Young before twice winning the NL award (2016-17).
The second game Wednesday features 2011 AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, the second overall pick by Detroit in 2004 who is in his second World Series with Houston. Stephen Strasburg pitches for the Nationals, who took him first overall in the 2009 draft.
Another former Cy Young winner and first-round draft pick is scheduled to start for Houston in Game 3 in Washington on Friday night. Zack Greinke was the 2009 AL Cy Young winner for the Kansas City Royals, who drafted him in the first round in 2002.
This is the first World Series since 1945 to include six of the top 20 qualified pitchers in ERA for that season, according to Elias.
THOSE GAME 2 STARTERS
Justin Verlander is 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA in five World Series starts going into his Game 2 outing.
“You know that the nerves are going to be higher. Your body knows it’s not a regular start,” Verlander said Tuesday. “Going to sleep tonight is not going to be the same as normal. But having done it before, I don’t know if it helps, it’s definitely not going to calm you down any more, but I know what to expect going into it.”
Verlander, a 36-year-old right-hander, lost Games 1 and 5 to St. Louis in 2006, then dropped the 2012 opener to San Francisco, giving up a solo home run to Pablo Sandoval in the first and a two-run homer to Kung Fu Panda in a three-run third.
He wasted a 1-0 lead for Houston in Game 2 two years ago, giving up solo homers to Joc Pederson and Corey Seager and leaving after six innings in a game the Astros won 7-6 in 11 innings. He wasted a lead in Game 6, allowing Chris Taylor’s tying double in the sixth followed by Seager’s sacrifice fly in the Dodgers’ 3-1 win.
“I think you know what to expect out of the nerves and the anxiousness, but it doesn’t make it go away,” Verlander said.
Stephen Strasburg, a 31-year-old right-hander, has pitched in seven postseason games since 2014 but will be making his World Series debut.
“You’re going to get the butterflies,” he said. “Done it enough time that the more you try and settle in, the more it gets. And I think it’s beneficial to just play wherever you’re at. You know it’s going to be a storm out there. You’re going to weather it.”
NO REPEAT RECORD
This will be the 19th season in a row that there will not be a repeat World Series champion.
That is the longest such streak of no-repeat champions among MLB, the NFL, NBA and NHL. The 18 seasons in a row for Major League Baseball before this year had matched the NBA from 1970-87 for the record-long streak.
The Boston Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs this season after winning the World Series last year. The New York Yankees were the last team to win consecutive World Series, when they won three in a row from 1998-2000.
INTERNATIONAL ROLL CALL
There are 20 foreign-born players in the World Series, 10 on each team. That group represents six different countries.
Six players are from Venezuela, with four each from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. There are three from Mexico, two from Puerto Rico and one from Brazil.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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