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World Series odds, prediction: Astros will end Phillies’ dream season

Bet on Houston’s deep and stingy pitching staff to get best of Phillies’ powerful bats

Houston Astros teammates Alex Bregman (left), Ryan Pressly (center) and Yuli Gurriel (right) celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday. Houston enters the World Series has a sizable favorite to beat the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Houston Astros teammates Alex Bregman (left), Ryan Pressly (center) and Yuli Gurriel (right) celebrate after defeating the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday. Houston enters the World Series has a sizable favorite to beat the Philadelphia Phillies. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)Read moreSarah Stier / Getty Images

When the Philadelphia Phillies traveled to Houston at the beginning of October to wrap up the 2022 regular season, nobody would’ve predicted that Bryce Harper and Co. would return some three weeks later for a World Series showdown.

OK, maybe one person did:

Still, while the Astros entered the postseason as the prohibitive favorite to represent the American League in the Fall Classic for the fourth time in six seasons, the Phillies were the longest of long shots to be the last team standing in the National League. Yet here they are, four wins away from bringing a World Series title back to Philadelphia for the first time since 2008 and just the third time in franchise history.

The Phillies will enter the World Series just as they entered the Wild Card round against the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves and National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres: as an underdog.

Can the Phillies pull off a fourth straight shocker? No doubt. Will they? That’s a wager we’re not willing to make.

Here’s our World Series odds preview, including a prediction for the best-of-7 set that begins Friday in Houston.

Phillies vs. Astros World Series Prediction

Astros -185 (at BetMGM)

Phillies vs. Astros World Series Prediction: Analysis

Let’s make one thing crystal clear right off the bat: Houston might be 7-0 in the playoffs, but the Phillies have been far more impressive this postseason — mostly because they’ve traveled a much more difficult road.

While the Astros dispatched a pesky-but-flawed Mariners squad and the free-falling (and completely overmatched) Yankees, Philadelphia had to survive three playoff rounds, going a combined 8-2 against two division champs (St. Louis and Atlanta) and a sky-high Padres team that eliminated the 111-win Dodgers.

So the Phillies more than earned their way into the World Series. It’s just that they’re facing the wrong opponent.

In our Game 1 preview of the American League Championship Series — which concluded with a prediction that the Astros would win a short series — we noted how Houston’s pitchers matched up perfectly against a free-swinging, home run-happy Yankees lineup.

So who do the Astros get to face in the World Series? A bunch of free-swinging, home-run happy Phillies hitters — the same hitters who managed just five runs while striking out 39 times in that three-game season-ending series in Houston earlier this month.

Putting that strikeout tally in perspective, consider this: Philadelphia was better-than-average in the strikeout department during the regular season (8.41 per game). That average is up just a tick to 8.55 in the playoffs. But against Houston, the Phillies whiffed 16, 15 and eight times.

» READ MORE: Phillies vs. Astros World Series subplots include Bryce Harper, rookie shortstops, and more

During their seven-game playoff winning streak, Astros pitchers are averaging 11.1 Ks per nine innings (89 in 72 innings). That’s substantially higher than their regular season rate of 9.5. And after giving up the second fewest home runs in the regular season, Houston has allowed just five (including none to Aaron Judge, who went 1-for-16 against Astros pitching).

Philadelphia’s pitchers? They’ve watched 12 balls fly over the wall in 97 innings.

Staying on the mound: Houston sports a 1.88 ERA overall; its relief pitchers have given up just three earned runs in 33 innings (0.82 ERA); and opposing hitters have posted a .178 batting average. Philadelphia’s corresponding numbers in the playoffs: 3.06 team ERA, 3.19 bullpen ERA (15 earned runs in 42 1/3 innings); and a .191 opponents’ batting average.

The good news for the Phillies: Their 1-2 starting pitching punch of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola (combined 23-20, 3.06 ERA, 32 HRs allowed in the regular season) is legit. And unless there’s a sweep, each will start two games.

The problem? The Astros’ 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez (combined 35-10, 2.32 ERA, 23 home runs allowed) is better. And both also are slated to start twice.

» READ MORE: Phillies owner John Middleton: Bryce Harper’s homer was like a fairy tale

Now, by any objective measure, Philadelphia’s offense has outperformed Houston’s in the postseason. The Phillies have hit an MLB-best 16 homers and are averaging 4.75 runs per game, while the Astros have belted 12 homers and is averaging 4.43 runs.

Also, two of Houston’s main catalysts — second baseman Jose Altuve (3-for-32, one double, no RBI) and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (7-for-29, two homers, eight RBI) — have been virtually invisible in the postseason.

But that’s the thing: Altuve and Alvarez have barely contributed and yet the Astros are 7-for-7 in the playoffs. If either (or both) heat up in the World Series, Houston’s difficult-to-navigate lineup becomes even tougher.

Obviously, all of the pressure is the Astros, who only have one (massively tainted) trophy to show for six straight division titles and three previous World Series trips. Conversely, Philadelphia is playing with house money — just as division rivals Washington (2019) and Atlanta (2021) were when they upset Houston in the World Series.

However, the Astros are a decided favorite in this series for a reason. And unless Harper, who has been superhuman in the playoffs, takes it yet another level, and unless Wheeler and Nola combine to pitch four gems, it’s difficult to see Houston not closing out this one.

Lay the chalk with the Astros at BetMGM in what should be an entertaining six-game series.

Phillies vs. Astros World Series Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Astros: -185

  2. Phillies: +150

  3. Total number of World Series games: 4 (+550), 5 (+280), 6 (+205), 7 (+215)

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