MLB betting market report: Daily picks, advice for World Series Game 1 Phillies-Astros 10/28

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

October 27, 2022 09:35 PM
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The Houston Astros are a perfect 7-0 in the MLB Playoffs to this point. No team in the Wild Card era has ever gone undefeated in the postseason. In order to keep that dream alive, it will be up to Justin Verlander and his teammates to hold off Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night.

Houston is a sizable favorite for both the series (which I wrote about here) and the game, but Philadelphia has been an underdog in all three series to this point, so they’re no strangers to pulling upsets. We’ve got a little bit of a surprise starter in Game 1 for the Phils and a not-surprise starter for the Astros, though Houston waited until Thursday afternoon to announce.

Let’s see what Game 1 has in store.

Philadelphia Phillies at Houston Astros (-165, 6.5)

See the latest betting splits

There are a lot of reasons why the Phillies have made it to this point, but the long ball is chief among them. Philadelphia has hit 16 homers in 11 games to this point and leads the postseason with a .442 SLG. The 23 doubles from Phillies hitters are also nine more than any other team has put up to this point and 13 more than the Astros. Extra-base hits are the best way to score in the high-strikeout environment that is the playoffs.

The Astros have hit 12 homers in just seven games, so they’re on a pretty torrid pace as well, even though Jose Altuve is just 3-for-32 in the playoffs and Yordan Alvarez was dormant in the ALCS until picking up a couple of hits in Game 4. Guys like Jeremy Pena and Alex Bregman have picked up the slack, which is one of the many reasons why toppling the Astros is so hard.

For the Phillies, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins share the team lead with eight homers, but Hoskins only has three hits otherwise. Harper and timely dingers have pushed the Phillies to this point. They’re going to need to find offense from somebody else unless Harper continues to go nuclear. That’s where a game against Verlander could come in handy.

As great as the presumptive AL Cy Young winner is and has been, he has a penchant for giving up home runs. Verlander is always around the plate and is a fly ball pitcher, so mistakes are sometimes going to get hit a long way. The reason why he’s going to win the Cy Young is because he only allowed 12 homers in 175 innings this season, but has allowed a couple in 10 postseason frames. He allowed 36 homers in 223 innings back in 2019 and at least 27 homers each of the previous three seasons.

Because of Verlander’s high strikeout rate and fly ball stylings, hits are very hard to come by. He has allowed well under a hit per inning every season since 2014, so you don’t manufacture runs against a guy like that. You look to hit the long ball. That seems to play well into what Philadelphia has done thus far. If we get the Verlander from the Mariners series that allowed six runs, the Phillies are in good shape here. If we get the Verlander from the Yankees series that struck out 11 over six one-run innings, the Phillies are in trouble.

Nola has been great all year long for the Phillies, posting the best FIP and xFIP of his career during the regular season and showing up big in three postseason starts. He has only allowed six earned runs over 17.1 innings with 18 strikeouts against three walks. The concern that I have about Nola in this start is that his high strikeout rate is unlikely to translate against a contact-focused Astros lineup and his command has sometimes been an issue.

This is the first season of Nola’s career that he has posted a HR/FB% under 10.6%. The dead ball has gone a long way into helping him to a career year. He’s actually got a 13.2% HR/FB% in his career and has allowed a couple of homers in his three postseason starts. The other concern for Nola is that he struggles as he turns a lineup over. That, too, is another area where he did better this season, but he still allowed 10 homers to 218 batters faced the third time through.

Manager Rob Thomson left Nola out too long against the Padres and it burned him, as he allowed five runs in the ill-fated fifth inning. A similar misstep here could absolutely put the Phillies behind 1-0 in the series. While the Phillies are hitting home runs, it feels like there is more downside risk in Nola than Verlander in this start.

Something else to think about here is that the bullpens could be a bit rusty. Relievers are using to high-volume pitching, but we’ve had four full days off since the completion of the LCS round. Some of those guys may struggle coming into a tight spot, as it can be hard to stay sharp and keep the intensity up.

I do lean over 6.5 for the full game, but I’ll be looking for a live betting opportunity instead of starting with one early. Verlander only allowed four homers in 88 innings at home this season and just three homers the first and second times through the order. The third time through the order is when he allowed six homers and a .360 SLG, which was 135 points higher than the first time through and 107 higher than the second time.

I’ve written about Nola’s TTO splits as well, so I think maybe we get some runs in the fourth or fifth inning here. This type of game for Nola has the makings of a couple singles and then a three-run homer, a lot like what we’ve seen from both of these teams at various points throughout the postseason. I’m not sure it happens early, but the middle innings will be my target point.

Also, if the Astros get down early on a Verlander solo HR or something, I’d look for them live at a little better price in the middle innings. The Houston bullpen looks to be pretty clearly the better of the two. If the Astros fall behind early, I’d still expect them to give a strong comeback effort or even win the game.

Lean: Over 6.5 (-120)

Look to live bet the over or Astros in the 4th or 5th inning

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