The 115th World Series gets underway on Tuesday night in Houston with the Astros hosting the Washinton Nationals. The Astros are big favorites to win their second World Series in three years while the Nats are making their franchise’s first appearance at the Fall Classic.
A large part of both of these teams’ success this year has been the quality of their starting pitchers, which will be on full display in Game 1 with three-time Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer facing off against this year’s AL Cy Young favorite in Gerrit Cole.
From the first pitch to the final out we break down the odds with our best bets and predictions for Game 1 of the World Series.
Gerrit Cole has been absolutely incredible this season, but he’s not completely invincible – even though he might seem it at times. In 33 starts during the regular season, he allowed 22 hits, which is very good but still means that teams can get a hit off him every now and then.
The Nationals are very strong at the top of their lineup and had a batting average of .300 during the first inning this year. Bet on the Nats getting at least one hit against Cole in the top of the first.
PICK: Top of the first inning hit – Yes (-110)
FIRST FIVE INNINGS
Speaking of Cole, the guy has been red-hot. He might allow a hit in the opening inning but I don’t see him giving up many runs early. He has allowed more than a single run in just one of his last nine starts – and in that outing, he gave up just two runs in eight innings.
Cole had a terrific 2.50 ERA during the regular season and has been even better in the playoffs with 0.40 ERA through 22 2-3 innings.
However, Scherzer is pretty good himself. The future Hall of Famer recorded a 2.92 ERA during the regular season and has a 1.80 ERA in the postseason.
Even with O/U for the first five innings set at just 3, I’m leaning towards the Under.
PICK: First five innings Under 3
Astros outfielder Michael Brantley had an excellent regular season, batting .311 with 40 doubles and 22 dingers. Scherzer struggles a little bit against left-handed hitters like Brantley. He holds right-handed batters to a slugging percentage of .307, while lefties have a slugging percentage of .446 against him.
In fact, Brantley has hit well against Scherzer throughout his career. In 44 at bats against Scherzer, Brantley has a BA of .341 with eight doubles and a homer. Taking the Over 1.5 on Brantley’s total bases pays out at +150 while betting on him to record at least one double is installed at +350.
PICK: Michael Brantley Total Bases Over 1.5 (+150)
FULL GAME TOTAL
The Astros have cashed in on the Under in five of Cole’s last seven starts, while the Nationals have hit the Under in five of Scherzer’s previous six starts. That said, the O/U is installed at 6.5, which is the lowest total I’ve seen in recent memory.
While that might seem like too low of a number because these lineups combined for 11.89 runs per game during the regular season, keep in mind that both squads haven’t hit well against playoff pitching.
The Nationals are hitting .243 in the postseason while the Astros have a BA of just .208. With two terrific starters and two teams struggling to consistently generate runs, I’m sticking with the Under.
PICK: Under 6.5
FULL GAME SIDE
It seems nuts to bet against Cole given how well he’s pitched this year but this number is simply too good for a pitcher of Scherzer’s caliber. Especially when you consider that the Nationals are 4-0 in his previous four starts and 15-3 in his previous 18.
Sure, Cole has been terrific and the Astros have been the World Series favorites for most of the year but anywhere near -200 seems like too steep of a price to pay when you consider how well Washington has played over the last few months. The Nationals are 40-16 in their last 56 games overall and are 20-7 over their previous 27 contests against teams with a winning record.
Back Scherzer and the road ‘dogs.
PICK: Washington +170