The 115th annual World Series starts on Tuesday evening at Minute Maid Park, with Game 1 between the Houston Astros (107-55) and the Washington Nationals (93-69) slated for an 8:08 (Eastern Time) first pitch.
Sporting the best regular season record in Major League Baseball (MLB), the Astros ensured that the American League (AL) holds home field advantage for the seven-game championship series.
Not that this Houston juggernaut needs any additional advantages. Along with a 14-game difference over the Nationals during the regular season, the Astros have topped the 100-win plateau in three straight seasons and are shooting for their second World Series win over that span.
Washington, meanwhile, must hit the road to open its first Fall Classic appearance in franchise history – including 32 seasons as the Montreal Expos.
And based on the opening odds posted by online sportsbook Bovada, Washington’s lack of World Series experience – coupled with Houston’s home-field dominance and deadly starting rotation – makes the Astros major (-215) favorites to win it all.
Nationals Embrace Underdog Role Against Elite Opposition
The Nationals may not have World Series experience on their side like the Astros’ star-studded lineup, but Washington does know what it’s like to slay a pennant-winning titan.
In the National League Division Series (NLDS), the Nationals were listed as (+170) underdogs to the Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56) – a perennial postseason contender attempting to reach its third straight World Series. The Dodgers were similarly heavy series favorites at (-200), but fell in brutal fashion as the Nationals scored seven unanswered runs to win Game 5 in extra innings.
That victory involved multiple come-from-behind efforts, as Washington was also down 2-1 in the series before storming back on the strength of their elite starting pitching. Max Scherzer went seven strong innings allowing just one run in Game 4, before Steven Strasburg put up six innings of three-run ball to make the Game 5 comeback possible.
Along with Patrick Corbin, the Nationals 1-2-3 punch of Scherzer (2.92), Corbin (3.25), and Strasburg (3.32) all finished with Top-10 regular season earned run averages (ERA) in the NL. Even better, Strasburg (251), Scherzer (243), and Corbin (238) were 2-3-4, respectively, on the NL’s strikeout list.
Throw in Anibal Sanchez – who nearly no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals to spark Washington’s four-game sweep in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) – and the Nationals just might have the horses needed to hang with Houston’s vaunted pitching staff.
Three Astro Aces Provide Unprecedented Pitching Depth
As good as Scherzer was in the regular season, his Game 1 opponent Gerrit Cole was even better in every regard.
Scherzer rang up an 11-7 record to go with his 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts, but Cole’s likely Cy Young winning campaign saw him total the second-best record (20-5) in all of baseball, while leading the AL in both ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (326).
Accordingly, the odds for Game 1 show Cole and the Astros as major (-194) favorites over Scherzer and the Nationals (+167). And even when forced to lay (-1.5) on the run line, Houston is only a slight (+110) underdog to Washington (-130) in that regard.
It doesn’t get any better for the Nats in Game 2, as expected starter Strasburg is slated to toe the rubber against postseason legend Justin Verlander. Playing in his fourth World Series, the 36-year old Verlander is 14-9 with a 3.26 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched in his playoff career.
Those sterling stats in October were backed up by one of his best regular seasons to date, as the venerable Verlander topped MLB in wins (21-6), finished second only to Cole in strikeouts (300), and pitched to the second-best ERA (2.50) in the AL behind Cole.
And just as the Astros added Verlander via midseason trade to spark their 2017 World Series winning run, Houston acquired former Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke in a splashy deadline deal this year. Greinke’s postseason struggles are well-documented, but he adds a third ace to the equation thanks to his 18-5 record and 2.93 ERA over the regular season.
2019 World Series Schedule – Astros-Nationals Odds
|Game #||Venue||Date||Time & Channel|
|Game 1||Nationals @ Astros||Tuesday, Oct. 22||8:08 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 2||Nationals @ Astros||Wednesday, Oct. 23||8:07 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 3||Astros @ Nationals||Friday, October 25||8:07 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 4||Astros @ Nationals||Saturday, Oct. 26||8:07 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 5||Astros @ Nationals||Sunday Oct. 27||8:07 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 6||Nationals @ Astros||Tuesday, Oct. 29||8:07 (ET) on FOX|
|Game 7||Nationals @ Astros||Wednesday, Oct. 30||8:08 (ET) on FOX|