MLB Game 1 World Series Odds, Picks: Braves vs. Astros Betting Preview

MLB Game 1 World Series Odds, Picks: Braves vs. Astros Betting Preview article feature image
Credit:

Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Framber Valdez

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World Series Game 1 Odds

Braves Odds +120
Astros Odds -130
Over/Under 8
Time 8:09 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

One franchise returns to the World Series for the first time since 1999. The other is returning for the third time in five seasons. The 2021 World Series will feature a retooled Atlanta Braves against the Houston Astros, one of the most dominant and … talked about … sports teams in recent vintage.

Game 1 takes place in Houston where the Astros are 4-1 this postseason. Atlanta is 2-3 on the road this postseason.

Will Atlanta be able to steal Game 1 and put the Astros on notice? Or is this the game to look for a strict betting angle?

Astros Have Hitting Advantage, Need MVP-like Valdez Again

Trying to get the Astros batters out has been an issue. The White Sox pitching staff folded to them, and and the Red Sox staff did not have the depth to compete. The Astros can put a stranglehold on the series with a convincing win against Morton and Max Fried, assuming he starts Game 2.

Besides crushing fastballs, the Astros lineup smashes curveballs. Charlie Morton’s second-most thrown pitch is, you guessed, a curve. No surprise that World Series MVP favorite Altuve and emerging star Kyle Tucker are two of the players who excel against both pitches.

Houston can also win the World Series by forcing Atlanta to go to its bullpen early Game 1. The Braves’ bullpen has done a 180 in the playoffs and only suffered one bad outing against the Dodgers, a similarly stacked lineup like Houston’s. The best way to turn the Braves’ bullpen back into its regular season pumpkin is to see it as early in the series as possible.

Valdez is coming off an eight-inning gem in Game 5 of the ALCS and has been the best pitcher this postseason. Besides his sinker, Valdez uses a cutter that has been as good. It is also another pitch that can neutralize the Atlanta batting order. Only Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson, and Dansby Swanson have had consistent success against cutters in 2021.

Atlanta: Win Big Before Going Home

Being sub-.500 on the road in the postseason is not an oddity, but against one of the best teams in baseball it is not ideal. Atlanta’s two road wins have something in common: dominance. Max Fried led the Braves to a 3-0 shutout in Milwaukee in Game 2 of their NLDS matchup, while an offensive charge gave Atlanta a 9-2 win in Game 4 of the NLCS over the Dodgers.

Atlanta needs its big-time hitters to produce Game 1. That is a lot to ask going up against southpaw Framber Valdez. His sinker and 70% groundball rate have been a force in the playoffs. Atlanta has been one of the best teams at putting the ball in the air away from the friendly confines (1.02 road Groundball-to-Flyball ratio, T-4th lowest in MLB) and will have to lay off or fight off pitches low in the zone.

Charlie Morton toes the rubber against the team he won a World Series with in 2017. Morton has a 19:8 K/BB ratio in three starts this postseason. He will have a short hook if he gets into another walk-fest like his Game 3 outing in the NLCS. The Astros are the standard for reaching base and not striking out. Only the White Sox and Padres matched the Astros as top-10 teams in walk and strikeout rates. Morton has thrived as a late-blooming strikeout pitcher but has to get Astros hitters out any way possible.

Morton also throws his four-seam fastball nearly 50% of the time. The Astros have five starting hitters with a positive Run Value against the four-seamer, with Jose Altuve leading the way. If Morton does not vary his fastball usage, it will be a short outing.

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Braves-Astros Pick

The books have set good odds across the boards considering the Astros are rightfully favored, but not too heavily, and the Braves are actionable at +120. I just do not want to go moneyline without seeing how the teams play each other.

At home, the Astros’ game total this postseason is 3-2 for the over if we use Game 1’s run total. The Braves’ over in road games is also 3-2. Morton will be on a shorter leash than Valdez and both bullpens have shown vulnerability at various points during the regular and postseason.

I would rather take a chance on one of the starters coming up short than on an entire team. I also think both offenses have enough firepower to be an issue for opposing pitchers in this series.

Game 1 could set a tone for the remaining games played.

Pick: Over 8 Runs (-120 at DraftKings); bet to -135. Consider Braves ML if total dips below 8.

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