World Series Picks, Predictions, Odds for Phillies vs Astros Game 1
Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Verlander
- The Astros are favored at home in Game 1 of the World Series tonight against the Phillies.
- Houston has AL Cy Young frontrunner Justin Verlander on the mound, while Philadelphia counters with an ace of its own, Aaron Nola.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting prediction.
Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 Odds
|Over/Under||6.5 (-124 / +102)|
|Time||8:03 p.m. ET|
The 118th Fall Classic is finally upon us. This series will have it all: tremendous starting pitching, superstar bats, and hungry fan bases. We should see all of that tonight in Game 1.
The Philadelphia Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option as he’s been spectacular this postseason. However, he’ll be up against a daunting Houston lineup that has not seen much of him, but may be tailor-made to do damage against him.
Speaking of great arms to turn to in Game 1, Justin Verlander has a pretty good case behind him. The future Hall of Famer will likely add another Cy Young to the trophy case, but he is pursuing one more ring. He’ll face a red-hot Phillies lineup that has featured significant power and plenty of timely hits. It will be interesting to see how he approaches this lineup.
I know I’m ready, so strap in and get your popcorn ready as we are about to dive into Game 1 of the World Series.
Can Verlander Cool Down Phillies’ Bats?
While many are saying that this Phillies team got hot at the right time and that momentum has carried them all the way here, that’s not exactly the case. Yes, their bats are hot, but the truth is they were excellent all year long.
The Phillies finished the regular season top 10 in barrel rate, hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. That translated to a top-three finish in xBA and ranking sixth in both xSLG and xWOBACON. While we’ve seen all that positive regression come to light this October, Verlander may knock them back down to earth tonight.
Verlander proved this season that he is one of the best pitchers of this generation, and he matches up very well with this Phillies lineup. At this point in his career, Verlander is essentially a fastball-slider guy while flipping in a curveball to change speeds 20 percent of the time.
The Phillies are a team that has proven they can handle the fastball as guys like Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm all punished fastball this season. However, it was a very different case against sliders.
They only had four guys with an above-average run value against sliders, and of those four, only Harper has an xBA above .230 and a strikeout rate below 34 percent. I’m sure Verlander has been made aware of this in the scouting report. So we should expect to see plenty of sliders after he shows the Phillies’ fastball early in the count.
If Verlander can establish the glove side of the plate with his fastball, he should have plenty of success, as he’ll be able to work in to lefties and away from righties with his bread and butter.
Nola Must Navigate Dangerous Astros Lineup
Much like his counterpart, Nola was also one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he cemented that down the stretch and into this postseason run. However, he has not seen much of this Houston lineup and will need to be careful if his game plan is similar in this matchup.
Nola will attack hitters with his fastball, as he’s thrown it 53 percent of the time. However, he has three different variations as he’ll utilize a four-seam, cutter and sinker. Although, he can’t afford to make mistakes with any of those pitches, as the Astros were one of the best lineups against fastballs. They have six guys with an above-average run value against fastballs.
Yordan Alvarez leads the way with a ridiculous 71.8 percent hard-hit rate off four-seamers. However, I expect quite a bit of sinker usage from Nola as he likes to throw the front-hip sinker to lefties and jam righties to produce soft contact.
Although, the sinker will likely be much more effective against the Astros’ righties, as Alvarez and Kyle Tucker hit sinkers quite well this season. Look for those two to do damage tonight.
The last part of this handicap that needs to be factored in is the bullpens. While both are well rested, the Astros have the clear edge, as the Phillies only have two or three somewhat reliable arms.
If Nola gets in trouble or is hit hard by the Astros lefties, it will be hard to mount a comeback, especially when their bullpen may not be able to put out the fire.
I’m backing Verlander and the Astros to win the first battle tonight.
Pick: Astros ML -165