Game 1: Washington Nationals (+1.5, -131) at Houston Astros (-1.5, +111), Tuesday, 8:08 p.m. ET
Max Scherzer, RHP (WSH) at Gerrit Cole, RHP (HOU)
Since May 24, the Washington Nationals (82-40) and Houston Astros (81-41) have the two best records in baseball, so it’s no surprise that they will square off beginning Tuesday in the World Series.
The Astros hand the ball to Gerrit Cole, who over his last 16 starts is 14-0 with a 1.28 ERA. The Astros have won all 16 of those games. Cole is -105 to get the win in Game 1, which, based on his recent performance, seems like an intriguing bet.
Cole will likely be opposed by Max Scherzer, although the Nationals haven’t officially announced their Game 1 starter yet.
Scherzer has been dominant lately. Over his last two starts, Scherzer has allowed just one run over 14 innings. The three-time Cy Young award winner won both of those outings. Scherzer is +215 to get the win in Game 1.
Scherzer was actually much better on the road this season than compared to at Nationals Park. On the road during the regular season, Scherzer had a 2.64 ERA in 12 starts compared to a 3.16 ERA at home.
With as well as these two dominant aces have pitched, the under 6.5 runs (+100) seems most appealing. Not only are Cole and Scherzer pitching great, they also go deep into games, meaning these bullpens shouldn’t have a lot of work here.
With a lack of offense being possible, betting on the number of hits could be an option. If you believe it’s going to be a pitchers’ duel, 9 hits or less (+1050) or 10 to 12 hits (+360) could be the way to go.
The Nationals may try to manufacture runs using their speed. Top of the lineup hitters Trea Turner and Adam Eaton combined for 50 stolen bases during the regular season. Turner is +200 and Eaton is +425 to steal a base in Game 1.
The Astros caught 25 runners out of 85 stolen base attempts during the regular season. Only the Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals threw out a fewer number of baserunners, although part of this is because runners only attempted the 85 steals.
Prediction: Houston Astros take Game 1 by more than 1.5 runs (+111), Gerrit Cole gets the win (-105), under 6.5 total runs (+100) & Trea Turner steals a base (+200)
The Astros have previous World Series success and an elite starting pitcher in Cole on the mound. Yes, they will be at hitter friendly MinuteMaid Park but offense could be scarce in Game 1 thanks to Cole’s and Scherzer’s dominance, so the under 6.5 runs with Cole and the Astros getting the win makes sense.
With the Nationals trying to scratch out runs against Cole, Turner trying to swipe a bag also makes a lot of sense. The speedster has three steals in 20 career playoff games.