Astros vs. Braves World Series Odds, Picks: Game 3 Betting Preview (October 29)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Altuve
- The Braves are slight favorites at home in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Astros tonight in Atlanta.
- Young right-handers Ian Anderson and Luis Garcia will take the mound for the Braves and Astros, respectively.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting prediction.
Looking for Game 4 odds and picks? Click here.
Astros vs. Braves Odds
|Over/Under||8.5 (-108 / -112)|
|Time||8:09 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
After splitting the first two games of the World Series, the Astros and Braves will battle in a pivotal Game 3 in Atlanta to see who can get a leg up.
Luis Garcia — who was superb during the season, but who has struggled in the playoffs — gets the ball for Houston against Ian Anderson, who struggled all year but has brought it this postseason. Do we trust what we’ve seen in the last few weeks, or back the larger sample? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Astros Depending On Garcia
The Astros entered with the mightier of the two offenses, but they’ve been out-done so far through two games. Houston’s .689 OPS and singular home run has to be considered a disappointment considering their .784 OPS over the course of the season and their .779 OPS so far this postseason.
Of course, much can still change, and it’s not like this order is objectively bad. With that said, Houston is at best equal with Atlanta on the offensive side of things through two games, which puts the focus on the pitching here as we enter Game 3.
When Garcia last pitched in Game 6 of the ALCS, he turned in his first quality outing since September 22, when he held the Los Angeles Angels scoreless over six innings. If you want to find the last time he conquered an opponents that was actually good, you’d have to go back at least to August 30 against the Mariners, or July 7th against the A’s.
There have been plenty of starts against poor AL West and AL Central teams over the last couple of months, so seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings against one of the hottest offenses in baseball was very encouraging.
Garcia stumbled a bit down the stretch, but his numbers in 2021 were solid. He struck out 26.4% of the batters he faced, which is 4.4% higher than the league average, and he pitched to a 3.48 ERA. The stretch run, his 3.95 xERA and his 7.9% walk rate throw a little cold water on things, but for a 25-year-old with little experience, he was good.
That came back to bite him a bit in the postseason, starting off things by allowing 10 earned runs in his first two starts before settling in to Game 6 of the ALCS. This should be a matchup he can handle, considering he throws primarily a fastball and cutter, and this Braves team ranked in the bottom half of the league against those pitches after the All-Star break.
The Astros’ bullpen has worked a whopping 61 innings now in the postseason, and 11 innings in the World Series alone. These arms have been great, but they could use a rest. Houston is risking the bullpen falling apart with too much work, and if that happens the series is over.
Braves’ Offense Has Been Tough To Beat
With the aforementioned bullpen situation, getting to Garcia early will be crucial for the Braves. It shouldn’t be too hard to do, after all, with the youngster making quick exits in Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the ALCS. Atlanta did hit .270 with an .832 OPS in the first inning of games this year, .255 in the third inning and .272 in the fourth. The second inning has been a bit of an issue, bit this is a team that has done all of its damage within the first five innings.
I alluded to how good this offense has been through two games. Their .738 OPS is 49 points higher than Houston’s, they’ve hit .264 through the two games, and they’ve also clubbed three homers to the Astros’ one. Atlanta hasn’t slowed down after a great NLCS at the plate and has not seemed fazed by this weak Houston pitching staff.
While Garcia’s arsenal doesn’t exactly excite the Braves, his walk rate really should. The Braves were issued a free pass in more than 9% of their plate appearances against right-handed pitching this year, and their 100 wRC+ in that split was just outside the top 10 as a result. Atlanta has plenty of bats that can do damage against right-handed pitching, and that was the preferred handedness to face for the majority of the season.
Now, let’s talk pitching. Anderson is so weird. All of his numbers in 2020 were spectacular, from his .183 expected batting average to his .274 xwOBA on contact and 29.7% strikeout rate. He looked like a bonafide front-end starter, and he backed that up with an 0.96 ERA in 18 2/3 postseason innings that year.
Anderson proceeded to regress big time in 2021, pitching to a 4.30 xERA, dropping significantly to a 23.2% strikeout rate and seeing a 6.6% increase in hard-hit rate. Things seemed bleak, but then came the postseason, where Anderson seemed to remember how he pitched in 2020. He’s allowed just three earned runs over 12 innings in three starts, striking out 12 hitters along the way. His one hiccup was probably when he walked three batters in a three-inning start against the Dodgers.
One thing that hasn’t changed with Anderson is his fastball, which has actually gained a bit of velocity to reach an average of 94.6 mph this year. His quality fastball could be an issue for an Astros team that surprisingly ranked 11th in weighted runs per 100 fastballs in the second half this year.
It’s hard not to give the edge to Anderson in this matchup, given both men have favorable arsenals to match up with the opposition. The right-hander has just looked so much better than Garcia this postseason, even with the Astros hurler’s great showing in the ALCS.
Garcia’s trouble with his command has been evident for quite some time now; he walked at least two batters in five of his last six outings this year, totaling 13 walks in that span. That was a common theme to begin his postseason, with six total walks in those first two outings, which lasted just 3 2/3 innings in total.
I think there’s a hefty sample size to work off here which would tell us that Garcia maybe isn’t the most reliable arm right now, and should this game get down to the bullpens I think I’d once again favor Atlanta.
While both teams own similar numbers this postseason, the Astros’ relievers have had to work incredibly hard over the first two games — and for nearly nine more innings than the Braves this postseason. Their day of reckoning is coming, and I’m especially sure of that considering how bad this unit was all season. Fatigue will only push them to the edge.
The line is right on here, but the Braves should take this one at home and move ahead 2-1.
Pick: Braves ML (-110)