The Astros pulled even with the Nationals during Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday, utilizing rookie right-hander José Urquidy for five scoreless innings and cashing in a five-RBI performance from Alex Bregman to defeat Washington, 8-1. On Sunday night, they’ll head into Nationals Park one last time, hoping to gain an edge over their rivals before the series heads back to Houston for Game 6 and a potential Game 7.
Given the Astros’ heavy bullpen use over the last two games, they’ll look to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole to go the distance against a loaded (albeit struggling) Nationals lineup. Although Cole stumbled in Game 1 of the series — tossing seven innings of five-run, one-walk, six-strikeout ball in a 5-4 loss — he still carries an impressive 1.82 ERA, 2.7 BB/9, and 11.5 SO/9 across 29 2/3 innings of postseason play this fall.
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. José Altuve (R) 2B
3. Michael Brantley (L) RF
4. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
6. Yordan Álvarez (L) LF
7. Carlos Correa (R) SS
8. Martín Maldonado (R) C
9. Gerrit Cole (R) RHP
Against Cole — and a lineup that delivered 12 runs in the last two game alone — the Nationals will send out right-hander Joe Ross. Max Scherzer was initially slated for the start, mirroring the Cole-Scherzer match-up in Game 1, but was ruled out after experiencing some troubling back and neck pain. His status for the remainder of the series is now up in the air; he received an injection prior to Sunday’s game, but it’s questionable whether he’ll even be ready to handle a potential Game 7 start on Wednesday.
Ross has yet to make a formal postseason start for the Nationals, though his regular season track record — a 5.48 ERA, 4.6 BB/9, and 8.0 SO/9 through 64 innings — is hardly comforting as the Nationals head into another high-stakes situation. In his lone playoff appearance, he tossed two scoreless innings for the club during their Game 3 loss to the Astros on Friday. Should his Game 5 start start to go south, Dave Martinez may call on Game 3 starter Aníbal Sánchez, who could conceivably pitch out of the bullpen on two days’ rest.
Game 5 will kick off at 8:07 PM EDT.