The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals will meet in the 2019 World Series with Game 1 set for 8:08 p.m. ET Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. The Nationals have been off since sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The Astros got past the New York Yankees in a six-game ALDS concluding Saturday. Below, we make our picks for Game 1 of the Astros vs. Nationals World Series.
Our Game 1 betting preview will look at the World Series odds and lines at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook in order to find the best bets for the moneyline, spread (run line) and Over/Under. Be sure to consult TheLines before each World Series game for a full breakdown of the pitching matchup and each day’s projected batting orders.
Tuesday’s World Series opener will see Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer toeing the rubber for the Astros and Nationals, respectively.
Astros vs. Nationals moneyline
The Astros and Nationals haven’t met in a head-to-head series since Aug. 2017. The Astros compiled MLB’s best regular-season record in 2019 at 107-55. The Nationals qualified for the playoffs as the National League’s top wild-card team. They went 93-69 over the course of the regular season. The Astros were 60-21 at Minute Maid Park and 35-28 against teams better than .500. The Nats were 43-38 as the road team and just 48-48 against teams with a winning record.
Washington beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game. It then beat the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to two in the NLDS before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the NLCS. Houston snuck past the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the ALDS and eliminated the New York Yankees 4-2 in the ALCS.
As will be the theme throughout the 2019 World Series, the game comes down to the battle of the aces on the mound. Cole gets the nod in Game 1. The 29-year-old pitched to a 2.50 ERA over 33 starts and 212 1/3 innings. Scherzer posted a regular-season ERA of 2.92 over 27 starts while missing some time due to a back issue in the second half of the year. The two hurlers ranked first and second among qualified starters by strikeout rate with Cole’s 13.82 K’s per nine innings and Scherzer’s 12.69 K/9. Cole gives the Astros a slight edge in Game 1, as he enters the World Series on regular rest following Houston’s early advancement over New York. The Astros have won each of Cole’s last 16 starts.
The Pick: Astros -200 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Astros vs. Nationals run line
The Astros are 93-80 against the run line on the season, including the playoffs. They covered the spread in 49 of 87 home games up to this point. The Nats are 98-74 on the RL overall and 52-34 as the visitors. The Nationals haven’t been involved in a one-run game since beating the Brewers 4-3 in the play-in contest. The Astros’ lone game to be decided by a single run this postseason was their 3-2 Game 2 win over the Yankees.
Each of Cole’s three accredited victories in the playoffs has been by at least a two-run margin, as he completed at least seven innings each time. Scherzer has pitched in four Nationals victories in the playoffs, but he got the decision (and the win) in only the last two starts. The Astros have had the better bullpen of the two teams this postseason. Houston relievers have pitched to a collective 4.08 ERA over 35 1/3 innings. The Washington bullpen has a 4.76 ERA over 28 1/3 frames.
With Cole the starter who is likely to pitch the deepest of the two, side with the Astros to cover the -1.5 run line and win by at least two runs. Houston will have the chance to tack on insurance runs against the Washington ‘pen.
Astros vs. Nationals over/under
With both teams having the chance to rest and tailor their respective rotations following the League Championship Series, the Under is expected to be a common trend throughout the 2019 World Series. Cole and Scherzer are tabbed for Game 1. Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg are expected for Game 2, and Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin will be left for Game 3 before either team needs to even think about turning the ball over to a non-elite fourth starter.
Additionally, both offenses have been good but not great thus far in the postseason. The Nationals and Astros rank sixth and eighth, respectively, by team OPS in the postseason. The Astros led baseball with a .860 team OPS against right-handed pitching in the regular season. The Nationals ranked sixth with an aggregate .791 team OPS against righties. Should the WS rotations follow the expected order, Corbin will be the lone left-hander to start.
The projected total for Game 1 is 6.5 at FanDuel and 7 at DraftKings as of Monday. I like the lower number at FanDuel as it pays plus money (+102) by taking away the chance of the push. A 3-1 or 4-2 Astros victory would cash all three of our Game 1 bets.
The Pick: UNDER 6.5 (+102 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
World Series Game 1 best bet
Extra Innings to be Played: Yes +700 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
This is a prop I’ll be willing to play all series long. With six of the best starters in baseball each set to make multiple appearances with the World Series on the line, we could see managers A.J. Hinch and Dave Martinez get creative while trying to preserve wins — or ties.
With +700 odds for a game to go past nine innings, we can make this bet in each game and end up no worse than even if just one game hits. I like both Scherzer and Cole to go at least seven full frames Tuesday. With rest on their side, a complete game can’t be ruled out for either Cy Young contender. All we’re likely to need will be one mistake by one reliever in the ninth inning.