The contestants for the World Series are almost known.  The team that will represent the National League has already been decided, in theory (Happy 15th anniversary, 2004!), while the American League still needs to work out a few more games.  As the series’ tighten up and teams enter the home stretch, the next couple of days are going to be more important than ever.

The New York Yankees are trying to stare down the Houston Astros and break a ten-year absence from a World Series appearance.  The two teams meet today for Game 3 and each have already notched in one win.  Both teams are used to being where they are now and neither is succumbing to pressure.  The Yankees have been to the playoffs seven times in the past decade and the Astros have three division titles and three ALCS appearances since 2015.

As far as how the two teams have performed against each other, the Yankees are the dominating team, having won 36 times to 28 losses.  The squad also dominated the entire regular season, finishing second with 943 runs scored and 306 home runs.  But – and there’s always a but – Giancarlo Stanton won’t be in Game 3 because of a quad strain.  He participated in some light practices leading up to the game, but apparently isn’t in good enough shape to be added to today’s lineup.

Stanton explains, “It’s pretty similar to 48 hours ago.  Just going to see what we can do. It’s not the best, but I’m able to hit. We’re at least that far right now. I don’t have much time. Time is not on my side right now. I’m doing what I can … I can hit. I’ve got to move around more and see what I’ve got.”

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the Astros are favored on the money line at -162 tonight.  Both teams are ready to grab the series lead tonight, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see an upset.  The Yankees might just pull off a surprise win.

The Washington Nationals are ready to sweep the NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight.  They have already built a 3-0 lead and the next two games – if a fifth is necessary – are going to be played in Washington.  The Cardinals have only scored two runs in three games and, with Patrick Corbin starting for the Nationals tonight, no one should expect to see much of a change in the team’s performance.

The Cardinals aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel, though.  Manager Mike Shildt is rallying the troops and the good vibes, stating yesterday, “I can tell you this, and it’s appropriate for the area we’re at: There is no concession speech being written.  This is a team that can absolutely win four games in a row, and clearly we have to start. . . . This group will bite, scratch and claw. We’re going to figure out a way to win tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, that road is more than likely already at a dead end.  The Nationals can already taste victory and are ready to make it to their first World Series.  They’re not going to let something as simple as biting and scratching keep it from making history.  The Cardinals have the lowest averages in several categories in the entire MLB postseason history – including batting, on-base, slugging and on-base plus slugging, according to STL Sports Central – and these stats don’t point to a winning team.

Washington is set to win at -155 with an over/under of eight runs.  The NL already has its champ.