Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros Game 1 Pick

October 22, 8:08 PM EDT

Betting Odds

Astros -195/Nationals +175

Two of the best Big Threes in Baseball clash as the Astros and Nationals open the 2019 World Series with Game 1 Tuesday night in Houston. The Astros will throw the guy who should win the American League Cy Young Award in Game 1 while the Nationals will throw a three-time Cy Young recipient. But Houston is a huge betting favorite. How are we playing this game for our free MLB pick?

MLB Betting Odds

MLB World Series betting odds opened Houston at upwards of -200 for Game 1 over Washington, with an over/under of seven runs. Early betting action then dipped that line just a bit, to around -195.

The Astros could also be bet getting around +110 on the MLB run line.

World Series Game 1 Betting Set-Up

Houston broke out to a big lead in the AL West this season and cruised to a third straight division title. The Astros then outlasted Tampa Bay in five games in an American League divisional-round playoff series, then just finished off the Yankees in six games in the AL Championship Series. So Houston is back in the World Series for the second time in the last three seasons.

The Astros are 7-4 this post-season.

Washington, meanwhile, struggled early this season, then rode its starting pitching and a long hot streak to a National League wild-card berth. The Nationals then came from behind to beat Milwaukee in the NL wild-card game, then shocked the Dodgers in five games in an NL divisional-round series. Washington then just swept St. Louis in four games in the NL Championship Series. So the Nationals are playing in their first World Series in franchise history.

Washington is 8-2 this post-season, riding a six-game winning streak.

These teams last met back in 2017, when the Nats took two of three games in an August series in Houston.

Game 1 Starting Arms

Cole, by our strict standards, finished 25/33 on quality starts this season and five for his last six. He's also 3/3 on QS during these playoffs. Last Tuesday, in Game 3 of that ALCS against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Cole tossed seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball, walking five, pitching through a couple of jams, in a 4-1 Astros victory. And over his three starts in these playoffs, he's allowed just one run and ten hits through 22 2/3 innings, with 32 strikeouts against eight walks.

Houston finished 26-7 with Cole during the regular season, and it's 3-0 with him this post-season. The Astros have also won Cole's last 16 starts!

The last times Cole pitched against the Nationals came back in 2017, when in two starts while still with Pittsburgh he allowed four runs and 11 hits through 12 1/3 innings.

Scherzer finished 16/27 on quality starts this year but 0 for his last three. He's also 2/3 in these playoffs, with one perfect inning of relief. Ten days ago, in Game 2 of that NLCS against the Cardinals, Scherzer threw seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball, with 11 whiffs against two walks, in a 3-1 Washington victory. And over his four appearances in these playoffs, Scherzer allowed four runs and nine hits through 20 innings, with 27 K's against eight bases on balls.

The Nationals only finished 14-13 with Scherzer this season, but they're 3-0 with him this post-season.

This start will be Scherzer's first against the Astros since 2014 when he was still with Detroit, and that's like 100 years ago in baseball time.

Game 1 Batting Splits

Washington batted .258/.337/.448 against right-handed pitching this season. The Nationals have since scored 45 runs in their ten playoff games.

Houston batted .274/.349/.492 against RH pitching this season, helping this lineup rank as the best in the Majors in this split. However, the Astros have only scored 41 runs over 11 games in these playoffs.

The Bullpens

The Nationals bullpen ranked among the worst in baseball this season, posting an ML-worst 5.66 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP while allowing an .800 OPS. But Washington relievers have been better recently, closing out each of the Nationals' last six wins in these playoffs.

The Astros pen ranked among the best in baseball this season, posting a 3.75 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP while holding foes to a .694 OPS.

MLB Betting Trends

  • Washington played 43-38 on the road this season.
  • Houston played an ML-best 60-21 at home this season.
  • Washington played 69-52 against right-handed starters this season.
  • Houston played 68-44 against RH starters this season.

Totals Report

  • Unders played 76-75 in Nationals games this season.
  • Unders played 84-71 in Astros games this season.
  • Unders played 39-37 in games played at Minute Maid Park this season.

Cole is ridiculously hot, so he gets the check-mark in the pitching match-up, but Scherzer's no slouch, so it's close. Also, while Houston owns edges with the sticks and in the bullpen comparison, it's not enough to warrant a line so high. And Washington's riding a wave of momentum. We are going with the betting value here and taking the Nationals at the fat underdog price for Game 1.

Free Pick: 
Take the Nationals +175

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