|Washington Nationals||+1.5 (-135)||+175||Over 6.5|
|Houston Astros||-1.5 (+115)||-195||Under 6.5|
Staff aces will square off in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, as the Astros’ Gerrit Cole and the Nationals’ Max Scherzer will take the mound at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night. Oddsmakers have understandably set a very low total, which sets up an opportunity for Over bettors.
Cole may be 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of work this postseason, but Washington’s hottest hitters—infielders Howie Kendrick (NLCS MVP with a 1.012 OPS) and Anthony Rendon (1.059 OPS in nine playoff games)—are a combined 7-for-22 (.318) against him all-time. Cole’s biggest strength is his ability to produce strikeouts (32 in three playoff starts this year), but the Nationals were among the most disciplined teams at the dish this season, with the fourth-fewest strikeouts in the league.
Howie Kendrick wins NLCS MVP 🏆
It’s been quite the journey for him in a Nationals uniform. pic.twitter.com/ksK1loQ3xK
— ESPN (@espn) October 16, 2019
The Yankees were able to scratch out five walks against Cole in Game 3 of the ALCS, so we’ll see if Washington can experience a similar result. Once Cole is out, the Nats lineup, tops among postseason teams with a .243 batting average, can get to work against an Astros bullpen that has been vulnerable at times during the playoffs (4.08 ERA).
Scherzer has been almost as hard to hit as Cole this postseason (2-0, 1.80 ERA, 27 strikeouts over 20 innings) but will be hard-pressed to stymie a Houston lineup that has plated more than six runs per game at home this season. Lefties are usually able to hold their own against “Mad Max,” with a .763 OPS this season. Astros outfielders Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are a combined 20-for-55 (.364) all-time against the Missouri native. If Yordan Alvarez can break out of his slump, it would make Scherzer’s task that much harder. And much like Houston’s, the Nats bullpen has been hit and miss during these playoffs (4.76 ERA).
The Over is 12-3-2 in the Astros’ last 17 home games against right-handed starters and 5-2-1 in Washington’s last eight contests following an offensive output of five or more runs.