Can Nats fend off Astros, take 3-1 lead? (FOX)

October 26th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Having successfully spoiled the birthday bash, the “Baby Shark” sing-a-long and the first World Series game in the nation’s capital since 1933, the Astros move on to their next task of trying to even things up in what is once again a fascinating best-of-seven set by putting their faith in the bullpen for Game 4 on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are, in a sense, going with a bullpen game, too -- but only if we recast their $140 million man as a reliever after his important appearances out of the ‘pen in Game 1 of this Series and elsewhere this postseason. But that’s all semantics.

What matters, in the big picture, is that Houston opted not to take the risk of going with on short rest after his unusually ineffective outing in Game 1 on Tuesday night and instead took the alternate risk of trying to get 27 outs from and Co. after digging fairly deep with its bullpen in Game 3.

“Every World Series game is a bullpen game, mostly, at some point, it feels like it,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Jose Urquidy will start, and he can go as long as he's good. I don't have necessarily a predetermined plan on how many innings, how many pitches.”

The Nationals will counter with the more traditional approach that is Corbin, who should be no worse for the wear and tear after pitching one inning of relief in Game 1 on his usual between-starts throw day. A bright spot in the Nats’ loss was that ' two innings of scoreless relief in Game 3 allowed Dave Martinez to keep his more prominent ‘pen arms rested.

What’s on the line is, by this point, well-established: Either the Nationals are going to be like 22 teams before them and use the 2-0 World Series lead they built on the road as a springboard to a title, or the Astros are going to become just the fourth team (joining the 1985 Royals, ‘86 Mets and ‘96 Yankees) to turn things around after dropping the first two games at home and win a title. Game 4 will go a long way toward telling us where we’re headed.

When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 4 will be on FOX at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.

All World Series games will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to FOX through a participating pay TV provider.

What might the starting lineups look like?
The only big question was whether Hinch chose to put designated hitter in the lineup in left field, which was unlikely considering Houston is facing a lefty. It’s likely Alvarez will start Game 5 on Sunday night. Other than that, got the start over while facing a lefty.

Here is Houston's lineup:

Nationals: After cashing in with runners in scoring position at seemingly every chance during the first two games, the Nats’ bats went cold in Game 3, going 0-for-10 with RISP while stranding 12 runners on base. They are hoping for better fortune in Game 4.

Here is Washington's lineup:

Who are the starting pitchers?
Urquidy (0-0, 2.08 ERA in the playoffs) will make his first career playoff start to kick off Houston’s bullpen game. Urquidy, who started seven games in the regular season, worked 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Rays and 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees.

Nationals: Corbin (1-2, 6.91 ERA) signed with the Nats in the offseason with games like this in mind, looking to help his team take a commanding lead in the World Series. Corbin has spent more time pitching in relief than as a starter this month, but in the three days after a scoreless 21-pitch sixth inning in Game 1, he has been able to get back to his normal routine.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
The last time Urquidy pitched more than three innings was his final start of the regular season on Sept. 27, when he threw six innings. Hinch says he has no predetermined limit, but if Houston can get three or four innings from him, it will pass the baton to the bullpen. Expect , , and to play big roles for the second consecutive game. didn’t pitch in Game 3, but he should be available for Game 4.

Nationals: The back of the Nats’ bullpen is rested and ready after , Ross and pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3. It gave , and an extra day of rest, and one fewer look for the Astros’ hitters.

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Harris had the biggest workload among relievers in Game 3 by throwing 25 pitches, but they will all be available.

Nationals: Everybody should be available.

Any injuries of note?
appeared to grab his left hamstring after getting tagged out in a rundown in the sixth inning, but there was no word on his condition postgame.

Nationals: left Game 3 with a right hip flexor injury. His status for Game 4 is unknown, although Gomes is expected to start with Corbin on the mound.

Who is hot and who is not?
Altuve is hitting .362 in the playoffs, including .400 (6-for-15) in the World Series. Brantley is 5-for-12 (.417) in the World Series and Springer is 4-for-12 (.333). Bregman is 1-for-13 in the World Series with one homer and two RBIs, and Carlos Correa is 2-for-13.

Nationals: Robles had a run-scoring triple, a walk and stolen base in Game 3, and the 22-year old rookie owns an .845 OPS this postseason. Eaton also logged his third straight multihit game and is riding a seven-game hitting streak, dating back to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

Anything else fans might want to know?
Altuve’s 23 playoff extra-base hits are the fourth most by a player younger than 30. Eaton is the first player in Nats history to have three consecutive multihit games in the playoffs.