0 Comments Share your thoughts HOUSTON — World Series nerves? Justin Verlander is ready for it, and his Astros manager A.J. Hinch says bring it on.The American League champions may be accustomed to a wealth of big games over the past three seasons, that have included ALCS championship appearances in each of them, and this a second trip to the Series.But that doesn’t mean the Fall Classic doesn’t bring its own dose of anxiety. The key is channelling it in a positive direction, apparently.“You know that the nerves are going to be higher and your body knows it’s not a regular start,” said Verlander, who will get the start for the Astros in Game 2 on Wednesday. “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 — but I know what to expect going into it.”Baseball being a game of routine, Verlander said he will do his best to keep his game prep work as normal as possible despite the presence of family and friends and the overall hoopla the World Series begins.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Hinch noticed a difference in the clubhouse when he wandered in hours before Tuesday’s series opener. And he liked what he saw and felt from his team.“I want the nerves,” Hinch said. “I want our guys to be a little bit on edge. We’re playing in the World Series. It should feel like a big deal. It should feel like something extra special and once the game settles in, I want our guys to be themselves.“But I kind of dig seeing a bunch of guys that are successful, they’re big, big personalities, we’ve all got egos, we’re in the big leagues. Be nervous, man. Enjoy it. Enjoy the uniqueness of being in the World Series. It doesn’t come around often enough.”Meanwhile, the Nationals’ Game 2 starter, Stephen Strasburg, said he’ll just roll with the emotions as best he can in his World Series debut.“There are going to be butterflies, but it just shows that you care,” Strasburg said. “Everybody in this clubhouse cares, we care about each other.“I know what I expect of myself. I’m going to hold true to that. That’s all I can really control.”YULI UNIQUEThe more he has been around Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, the more Hinch has been able to appreciate the veteran Cuban star.In particular, Hinch loves Gurriel for his ability to hit all type of pitching.As if on cue, hours after his manager pumped his tires, Gurriel rocked a double off the wall to drive in a pair of runs for the first scoring play of the 2019 World Series.“He’s one of the most dangerous hitters on our team and that’s among a lot of dangerous hitters,” Hinch said. “Yuli puts the ball in play and he can hit virtually every pitch, indicated by his homer the other day (a three-run shot in the first inning of Game 6 of the ALCS) was a neck-high fastball that few guys can keep fair.“His presence in our lineup is huge. If you ask around the league, a lot of managers, a lot of pitchers, a lot of players will talk about the fear they have when he comes to bat because he can cover every pitch depending on what his plan is.“And that will be critical this series when you’re facing such top-end pitching.”DREAM MATCHUPNationals manager Dave Martinez wasn’t going to have the luxury of enjoying Game 1 as a fan, but he expects most who love the game will.With Gerrit Cole of the Astros facing Max Scherzer of the Nationals for the curtain-raiser of the 115th edition of baseball’s championship, it was difficult not to appreciate the arms showdown.“I wake up this morning and I say, ‘You’ve got (Max) Scherzer against (Gerrit) Cole. Wow.’ If you’re not a baseball fan right now, man … this is exciting times.”While appreciative of the Astros — who owned home-field advantage on the basis of their MLB-best 107-win regular season — Martinez wasn’t about to undersell his team’s outlook.“I really like our guys,” Martinez said. “I like our guys. They came out here loose (on Monday’s workout day) and were having fun. It’s pretty cool just kind of watching them relax and go out there and do their thing.”AROUND THE BASES— The winner of Game 1 of the World Series has won 25 of the previous 33 editions, including the Red Sox in 2018.One of the exceptions? That would be your 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, who overcame the Atlanta Braves’ home-field edge.— Hinch said he plans to go with a “bullpen day” for Game 4 of the series back in Washington, a plan that is subject to change pending the results of the first three games.— The Astros and Nationals combine to have 20 non-U.S. born players — six from Venezuela, four each from Cuba and the Dominican, three from Mexico, and one from Brazil.— Martinez on whether he used the downtime from his team sweeping the Cardinals to watch the ALCS between the Astros and Yankees: “I watched most. Some of those games went on pretty late. Couldn’t keep my eyes open, I’m not going to lie to you.” Houston Astros Justin Verlander Major League Baseball Washington Nationals World Series
Texas comes in at second with 10.1-percent, while 5-0 Baylor has a 8.5-percent chance. Iowa State is the only other Big 12 team with a greater than 1-percent chance at 4.4-percent.TCU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State were given slim but slightly-above-zero chances of winning the title.West Virginia, Kansas, and Kansas State were all given a zero-percent chance of winning the Big 12.[Related Article: ESPN Predicts When Undefeated Top 25 Teams Will Lose First Game]But there can be no doubt that these numbers may change in a huge way depending on the results on this weekend’s games. Oklahoma-Texas, Texas Tech-Baylor, and Iowa State-West Virginia could all have a big impact on the numbers. NORMAN, OK – SEPTEMBER 29: An end zone pylon during the Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 66-33. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***Saturday’s Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas could very well be a Big 12 Championship Game preview. The two teams are a combined 9-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12.But there are a few other teams – namely Baylor and Iowa State – that have been making a push in the Big 12 as well. Baylor is currently undefeated while Iowa State can conceivably make a run in conference play.With Week 6 in the books, ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) computer model has updated its Big 12 champion prediction.The computer model gives the Oklahoma Sooners a resounding 75.6-percent chance of winning the Big 12 title. Only Clemson was given a bigger chance to win its respective conference.With such a huge margin for Oklahoma, there’s very little difference in odds between the other contenders.