A lot has changed in baseball since the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros did battle as division rivals, adding to the storyline as the clubs get ready to collide in Game 1 of the 2021 World Series on Tuesday’s sports betting card.
Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros
Tuesday, October 26, 2021 – 8:09 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park
Atlanta may have lost its right to host the MLB All-Star Game earlier this summer, but the Braves made sure to give the city something to cheer with a torrid final two months to win their fourth consecutive NL East crown before a brilliant run through the National League playoffs.
Houston won its fourth AL West title in five seasons, then washed out a pair of Sox in the playoffs by ousting Chicago and Boston from the October scene all while playing under the cloud of the 2017 sign-stealing scandal. It’s the Astros who are drawing the early chalk on the MLB futures odds to win their second World Series. Houston is running -145 to vanquish Atlanta in the Fall Classic. The Braves are priced around +125 to win their fourth World Series title.
Valdez Facing Braves for First Time
Houston is also favored in Game 1 when Framber Valdez (12-6, 3.24) climbs the hill at Minute Maid Park. Most shops are carrying the Astros -125 to -130 on the baseball betting odds, and they’ll be facing one of their old teammates in Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.37) with an 8½-run total that is priced to the ‘under.’
Morton should get a nice hand from the Houston crowd when he’s announced during the pregame ceremonies, and he’ll be facing his old club for the fourth time in the playoffs since leaving the Astros after 2018. All of those matchups came while Morton was with the Rays, who won all three postseason games he started against the Astros. His lone appearance at Minute Maid Park since leaving wasn’t all that enjoyable, Morton allowing six runs in four innings of an August 2019 outing.
Valdez is coming off a solid start against the Red Sox last week in Boston, tossing eight innings and allowing just one run in Houston’s 9-1 win in Game 5 of the ALDS. The southpaw had been banged around in his two previous postseason starts at Houston (7 IP, 6 ER), though the Astros managed to win the games. This will be the first time Valdez has faced the Braves.
Eddie or Yordan, Who Ya’ Got?
Both have enjoyed huge performances out of one bat in their lineup so far this October, and it will be interesting to see if either continues their torrid pace or someone else steps up. Eddie Rosario has a hit in each of the Braves’ 10 playoff games, and was named NLCS MVP after clubbing three homers and driving in nine runs.
Houston’s deep lineup has been paced by designated hitter Yordan Alvarez. The big Cuban has a hit in eight of the Astros’ 10 postseason tilts, and earned ALCS MVP honors after batting .522 (12-23) with five extra-base hits in the series against the Red Sox.
Clubs Meeting in Playoffs for Sixth Time
It has been more than four years since the Braves and Astros faced each other, Houston sweeping all four interleague matchups in 2017 with three of those four games going ‘over’ the totals at top sportsbooks. Since coming to the AL in 2013, the Astros are 5-2 against the Braves after Atlanta built a 391-328 record when the teams toiled in the NL.
This will be the sixth time the two franchises have met in the postseason, all five previous playoff clashes coming in the NLDS (1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005). Atlanta won the first three meetings, including a pair of sweeps, with Houston taking the 2004-05 matchups to reach the NLCS.
There hasn’t been any official announcement from MLB, but a leak here and a leak there suggest Ted Barrett will chief the umpire crew with Chris Conroy calling balls and strikes in Game 1. Conroy was part of Tom Hallion’s crew that worked the ALDS between the Astros and White Sox and had the plate in Game 2. Valdez was Houston’s starting pitcher in that one, and it went ‘over’ the 8½-run total. This will be Conroy’s first World Series assignment, and his regular-season games at the dish finished 17-13-2 O/U/P.
The roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park regardless of the weather forecast for the next week or so. My free MLB pick is based almost solely on the veteran Morton’s track record for the last two postseasons against the Astros. Atlanta is the right play in Game 1.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.