It is the World Series, so the sportsbooks are going to put up some kind of line to draw action, even if they aren’t sure who the starting pitchers will be. The Houston Astros have already announced that veteran right-hander Zack Greinke will be the starter on Saturday night. The Atlanta Braves have not announced one as they look to take a 3-1 series lead, but many people seem to believe that Kyle Wright will pitch in some capacity.
The Braves will use an opener per manager Brian Snitker, which leaves the post-opener options as Wright, Tucker Davidson, who replaced Charlie Morton on the roster, or Jesse Chavez, the rubber-armed swingman that can pitch multiple innings if asked.
Because we may not know Atlanta’s plan until closer to game time, let’s work with what we’ve got now.
Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves (-110, 8.5)
The consensus number is basically Atlanta -110 with the sportsbooks that have a line posted here in Las Vegas and the total is 8.5 across the board. We saw a lot of over money come up on the short end in Game 3, as the Astros went the first seven innings without a hit and the Braves only scratched out a couple of runs.
When the Astros put their faith in Zack Greinke against Boston in the ALCS, it didn’t go particularly well. They’ll hope for better from the 38-year-old here. Greinke just turned 38 on October 21, but he wasn’t in much of a celebratory mood after allowing two runs on one hit with three walks over 37 uninspiring pitches in Game 4 of the ALCS on October 19.
Greinke turned in one of his worst seasons as a pro with a 4.16 ERA and a 4.71 FIP over 171 innings of work. The 4.71 FIP was the highest of his career in a full season. He had a 5.04 FIP back in 2006, but only appeared in three games. He’s a free agent after the season, so it would certainly benefit him to have a solid game here.
No amount of scoreless innings will be enough for Greinke if the Astros can’t score. Houston was limited to two runs in Game 1 and shut out in Game 3 after scoring seven runs in Game 2. Houston didn’t even generate many run-scoring chances in the first game down in Atlanta, managing just five baserunners and just two at bats with a runner in scoring position.
Playing in Atlanta is tough because the Astros have to shuffle their defensive lineup by putting Yordan Alvarez in the field and also because Martin Maldonado is one of the worst offensive players in the league and the Astros have to add another weak bat with the pitcher.
Houston has to game-plan for a variety of different options now, but should focus on facing Wright and Davidson, since both should have the chance to pitch on Saturday. Wright had a strong 3.02 ERA with a 3.33 FIP in 137 innings at the Triple-A level this season, but he has a 6.56 ERA and a 6.56 FIP in his 70 career innings at the MLB level.
Davidson has also had a lot of success at the minor league level, but he only has 21.2 innings to his name at the MLB level. Perhaps the Braves will roll out Chris Martin in hopes of getting multiple innings to open the game, but this will be a Johnny Wholestaff game and with the chance to go up 3-1, Snitker should manage this one very aggressively.
In the interest of getting this preview up with some lead time, all I really have to go on is the Braves vs. Greinke and then guesswork with how the other side will shake out. There aren’t even props posted overnight at most sportsbooks. What we do know is that Wright will pitch in some capacity following an opener.
I agreed with the over money in Friday’s game and think that there should be some equity to the over in this game. Greinke will not only be on a short leash, but also seems like something of a long shot to be really effective. Jake Odorizzi will likely be called upon early, but the Braves will be seeing him for a second time and he is a pretty extreme fly ball guy who plays right into what the Braves want to do offensively.
I’ll look at the over in this game as well.
Pick: Over 8.5