Phillies vs. Astros Best Bets: Justin Verlander Starts in World Series Game 1

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Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros reacts after a strike out against the New York Yankees. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP.

The Houston Astros haven’t lost in the 2022 MLB playoffs and are solid favorites when they host the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday. Which way to lean at the best sportsbooks

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. Houston Astros

Game 1 

Friday, October 28, 2022 – 08:03 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park

What You Should Know

After what has seemed like about a month in between MLB action, the 2022 World Series begins on Friday night from Houston between the Phillies and Astros with FOX televising each game of the series – and here’s hoping it’s a competitive series after the NLCS ended in five games and the ALCS was a sweep. That’s why there were so many off days before the Fall Classic. 

While this is the first World Series meeting between the franchises, remember that Houston used to be in the National League and the Phillies beat the Astros 3-2 in the 1980 NLCS.

These teams closed the regular season with a three-game set in Houston but keep in mind the Astros really had nothing to play for then as they had clinched the AL’s top seed. Philadelphia was still battling for a Wild-Card spot. The Phils won the first game 3-0 to clinch a playoff spot and then the Astros took the final two. 

On the series line at the MLB odds, Houston is -190 and Philadelphia +165. I lean Astros in six, which is priced at +350.  


Philadelphia Phillies Analysis

Philadelphia hasn’t had home-field advantage in any of its three series yet but has just two losses – although both were on the road (Atlanta in NLDS and San Diego in NLCS). It’s the first time in the Fall Classic for the franchise since it attempted to repeat in 2009 but lost in six to the Yankees

Phillies Carried By Harper 

If there was such a thing as a Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP in MLB, Philly’s Bryce Harper would be the runaway favorite as he’s second among all players in batting average at .419 and tied for first in homers with 5 and RBIs with 11. 

He hit one of the biggest home runs in team history in Game 5 vs. San Diego, a two-run go-ahead shot in the bottom of the eighth to help clinch.  

Harper has an OPS of 1.351 so far, the eighth-highest OPS in postseason history. He is a +500 favorite for World Series MVP, which is interesting simply as the Phillies are such underdogs to win and just one player has won World Series MVP on the losing team: Yankees' second baseman Bobby Richardson in 1960 when New York lost in seven to Pittsburgh. 

Who Is Pitching for the Phillies in Game 1?

Most expected Manager Rob Thomson to start Zack Wheeler on the mound here as he would have been on normal rest but instead Thomson opted for fellow right-hander Aaron Nola so Wheeler will have an extra day of rest for Game 2. 

The 29-year-old Nola didn’t get great run support in the regular season as evidenced by his 11-13 record despite a 3.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 235 strikeouts.

He did pitch in Houston on Oct. 3 and was brilliant with 6.2 shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits with 9 walks. Jose Altuve is 2-for-5 career off him with a double. Yordan Alvarez is 1-for-3. 

Nola is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 16 hits allowed in 17.1 innings in these playoffs. He was dominant vs. St. Louis and Atlanta but knocked around for 6 runs and 7 hits over 4 innings in an NLCS loss to San Diego.

Nola was lined up to start Game 6 of the NLCS in San Diego, but Philadelphia clinched the NL pennant with a win in Game 5. This is his first career postseason.  


Houston Astros Analysis

Astros Are a Dynasty 

Houston is in the World Series for the fourth time since 2017 and looking for its second title. Manager Dusty Baker has never won a World Series ring in 11 previous trips to the postseason and two previous trips to the Fall Classic with a few teams. 

Houston is 7-0 in these playoffs and looking to become the first club to finish a postseason unbeaten since the 1976 Big Red Machine Reds. The Astros won 106 games during the regular season and thus got to skip the league’s new Wild-Card round.  

The Astros will have had 15 off days between beating the Phillies in the regular-season finale on Oct. 5 and Game 1 of the World Series. Since 1995, the only other team that has had that many days without a game between the final day of the regular season and Game 1 of the World Series (excluding 2020) was the 2007 Colorado Rockies, who also had 15 off days. They were swept in the Fall Classic by Boston. 

Who Remains After the 2017 World Series?

From the infamous 2017 champion Astros (the ones who cheated), Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr. are the only holdovers.

Gurriel leads Houston in these playoffs with a .367 average and 11 hits. Yordan Alvarez has two homers and eight RBIs and is a +650 second favorite for MVP. He’s the betting favorite on the MLB odds to lead all players in this series in both homers and RBIs. 

Who Is Pitching for the Astros in Game 1?

It will be 39-year-old right-hander and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander on the mound. He’s going to win a third career Cy Young after going 18-4 during the year with a 1.75 ERA (No. 1 in majors) and 0.83 WHIP (also No. 1).

He beat Philadelphia on Oct. 4, shutting out the Phillies on 5 hits with 10 Ks. The Philadelphia batter who has seen him the most is Jean Segura, who is 4-for-14 with a homer. Bryce Harper is 2-for-5.  

Verlander struggled big time in his first playoff start vs. Seattle but was excellent the next time out vs. the Yankees allowing one run and 3 hits over 6 innings with 11 strikeouts.

In Houston's World Series starting rotation, Verlander is the oldest member by 10 years and he's still their hardest thrower. 


Phillies vs. Astros: Pick and Prediction

I think the Phillies should have started Wheeler. Houston has the better lineup and bullpen.  

For this reason, take them for your MLB picks.

Score Prediction: Astros 4 - Phillies 3 

MLB Pick: Under Alternate Total of 7.5 (-165) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under Alternate Total of 7.5 (-165)
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MLB Pick: Astros ML (-162) at BetOnline 

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Astros ML (-162)
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*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.