The World Series is set and the MLB odds for betting the Fall Classic are starting to come together.
The Houston Astros return as the American League Pennant winners for the second time in three years, taking on the upstart Washington Nationals who won the National League Championship as a Wild Card entry.
Sports handicapping services have the Astros as -205 series price favorites with the Nationals coming back as +175 underdogs. Here’s a closer look at both teams and where they have the edge heading into Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday.
The Nationals have leaned on their pitching staff since last August, when the team caught fire and rode that momentum into the postseason. For the playoffs, Washington has a collective 2.90 ERA with aces like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer leading the charge. The Nats made moves to bolster their bullpen at the trade deadline and that’s given some added support from the relief corps, but the team is dependent on those starting pitchers to go six and seven innings in the postseason.
Houston’s staff has been solid but not nearly as vital to the Astros postseason run. The pitching staff boasts a collective 3.49 ERA with Gerrit Cole serving as the standout, collecting three wins with a 0.40 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 22 2/3 inning pitched. The Houston bullpen has an ERA just over 4.00 with two saves but hasn’t had to dig in as much due to solid run support.
Houston entered October as one of the premier offensive ballclubs in the bigs and has continued to swing big in the postseason, hitting just .208 BA but scoring an average of 3.75 runs per game. The Astros upped that offense against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, scoring a combined 18 runs in their final three victories. Houston has some serious power at the plate as well, launching 14 home runs this postseason.
Washington is no slouch at the plate either, finishing the regular season ranked six in runs per game. The Nationals caught fire toward the end of the season, hitting .268 BA and plating 5.46 runs a game in September. They’ve kept that momentum, with a .243 playoff BA and 4.5 runs per postseason contest. However, Washington doesn’t have the same power at the plate as Houston and could fail to come up with those game-changing hits in the World Series.
The Nationals are the hottest team in the majors, going back to August. Washington closed on the 2019 campaign on a 36-18 run which included a season-ending eight-game winning streak that propelled the club into the Wild Card game, through the Dodgers and Cardinals and into the World Series.
The Astros have been here before and won’t be shaken by the bright lights and pressure-packed action of the World Series. Houston edged the L.A. Dodgers in the 2017 Fall Classic, with many of those same faces still on the roster. The Astros also have the home-field edge in the championship series, playing the first two games and final two games – if needed – at Minute Maid Park. The club went 60-21 at home in the regular season – best in the majors – and is 5-1 in Houston in the playoffs.