The Fall Classic will get started Tuesday night with the Washington Nationals facing off against the Houston Astros in Game One. Taking the mound will be two of baseball’s best pitchers—Max Scherzer for the Nationals and Gerrit Cole for the Astros.
It is certainly not an easy matchup to wager on. For that matter, neither is the World Series—but who is going to win it all this year? Will it be the longtime favorites, the Houston Astros, or the Washington Nationals?
Odds at most sportsbooks have the Astros favored to win. While they are subject to change as the Series progresses heading into Game One, DraftKings has them as:
- Washington Nationals +192
- Houston Astros -235
According to those odds, the Astros have a 70.5 percent chance of winning the Series and the Nationals a 34.25 percent chance. So—who’s going to win it?
If you just look at the stats from the regular season, it looks like the Astros could sweep the Nationals. Houston had a more productive offense (920 runs scored to 873) and hit more home runs (288 to 231). The Astros were also better all-around hitters (batting average– .274 to .265; slugging percentage– .495 to .454; OPS– .848 to .796).
The Astros had the better pitching staff, too (3.66 staff ERA to 4.27).
While better, the Astros are not exactly blowing them out of the water in any category. With that in mind, it is not hard to see the Nationals maybe winning a game or two—but not the Series. However, the regular season stats are not the only thing that should be considered.
During the postseason, the Astros offense has struggled. They have only hit .208, slugged .358, and have an OPS of .645. Their only saving grace has been their home run prowess; they have 14 so far, second-most next to the Yankees (15).
They actually hit even worse in the ALCS (batting average– .179; slugging– .318; OPS– .600). But they did hit eight home runs. Washington, on the other hand, hit .274/.415/.741 in the NLCS. They have also done a much better job throughout the postseason as a whole (.243/.382/.697).
Pitching will save the Astros, though, right? Not necessarily. Houston’s aces have not done as well during the postseason as the regular. The staff as a whole has an ERA of 3.49 (Washington’s is 2.90) and has a BAA of .223 (Washington’s is .186).
Yes, Houston has the two best strikeout pitchers in baseball in Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander (No. 1 and 2). But the Nationals have three guys in the top ten in Stephen Strasburg (No. 6), Max Scherzer (No.8), and Patrick Corbin (No. 10).
The ace Houston picked up down the stretch, Zach Greinke, has not looked like an ace during the postseason.
So—go with the Nationals? Not necessarily.
Washington’s bats are not going to be as hot as they have been against the Astros pitching staff; at the same time, Houston’s bats will find it hard to wake up against the Nationals. The Nationals have been riding a hot streak against good opponents—but no one has good as Houston.
Expect the hot streak to end. Houston wins in six.