- BetOnline lists the Astros (-240) as heavy favorites to win their second World Series in three years
- The Nationals’ star-studded starting rotation makes them attractive underdogs at +200
- Gerrit Cole will square off against Max Scherzer in Game 1 on Tuesday night (Oct. 22)
Jose Altuve’s walk-off home run with two outs in the ninth inning on Saturday led Houston to their second Fall Classic in three years and sealed the Yankees’ first titleless decade since the 1910s.
After dispatching a franchise used to unprecedented success, the Astros now face the Nationals, a club making its first appearance on October’s biggest stage for a city that hasn’t hosted a World Series in 86 long years.
With Game 1 getting underway on Tuesday (Oct. 22, 8:08 PM ET), let’s check the updated odds at BetOnline.
2019 WORLD SERIES ODDS
ASTROS OPEN AS BIG FAVORITES
Listed at -240, the Astros are largest World Series favorites since the 2007 Boston Red Sox, but will this be the cakewalk that oddsmakers expect?
After starting the 2019 campaign 19-31, Washington’s 74-38 record (.651 win percentage) is almost identical to Houston’s 74-37 mark (.653) over that same span. Davey Martinez’s club also won’t be intimidated by a 107-win Astros team after dispatching the 106-win Dodgers in the NLDS and sweeping the Cards for the franchise’s first National League Pennant.
Since May 22, @GerritCole45 has been nearly untouchable.
In that span he’s gone 19-1 with a 1.86 ERA and 265 Ks. ? pic.twitter.com/nUxwJ640da
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 16, 2019
The sweep gives the Nationals’ potent starting rotation a full week’s rest while Houston only enjoys two days off, but the question is whether that will help or hurt Washington’s chances? Before the Red Sox beat the Dodgers last year after two extra days off, the past nine champions were the clubs that had less rest.
STAR-STUDDED STARTING PITCHING
The Astros have the two top contenders for the AL Cy Young award and still might not boast the best rotation in the series.
Game 1 starter Gerrit Cole led the majors with 326 strikeouts, topped the AL with a 2.50 ERA, and was second only to Justin Verlander in the big leagues with 20 wins. He’s somehow 19-0 in his last 25 starts with a 3-0 record in the playoffs to this point, allowing only one earned run in 22 2/3 innings with 32 Ks.
Verlander faltered on short rest against the Yankees in Game 5 and is now 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts this postseason. Zach Greinke has also been hittable this October with a 6.43 ERA over three starts.
Justin Verlander speaks for all @astros fans ♥️ pic.twitter.com/rNmbDrVmCL
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 20, 2019
Meanwhile, the Nationals can counter with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Aníbal Sánchez, who have combined to give up just nine runs in 54.2 innings this October. They also have Patrick Corbin, who closed out the Cards with a 12-strikeout performance.
While the Nats can deploy Corbin and Sanchez (in some order) in Games 3 and 4, the ‘Stros will either have to go with a bullpen game in Game 4 or bring back Cole on short rest.
HOUSTON’S BULLPEN ADVANTAGE
The Nationals’ starters have logged 61.2 of the team’s 90 frames this October, leading all ten playoff clubs at 69 per cent. Houston is right behind them at 64 per cent (62.2 of 98 frames), so both teams don’t rely on their bullpen that much.
Houston’s relievers had the second-best ERA (3.75) in baseball this season while Washington’s 29th-ranked pen had an ugly 5.68 ERA. However, the Nationals’ pen has turned it around of late, allowing just one run in 9.1 innings in the four-game sweep of the Cards.
It’s clear that the performances of lefty Sean Doolittle (2.45 ERA in 7.1 postseason innings) and closer Daniel Hudson (no runs allowed in 5.2 playoff frames) will dictate whether Washington can pull off the upset.
Stephen Strasburg joins Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Bob Gibson, and Gerrit Cole as the only pitchers to have multiple 12+ K #postseason games. pic.twitter.com/hxJC0yAyud
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 15, 2019
Back in August, I predicted the Nationals would become the first Wild Card club to win the World Series since the 2014 San Francisco Giants, so there’s no way I’m turning back now.
After the Nationals famously kept Stephen Strasburg out of the 2012 postseason to protect the 23-year-old’s arm, I envision a storybook ending where the now 31-year-old wins World Series MVP and delivers Washington’s first baseball championship since 1924.
PICK: NATIONALS IN 7