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Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 odds, predictions: Nola, Verlander will shine

Don’t count on many runs in the World Series opener, as lengthy layoff should benefit pitchers

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola gets the start in Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on Friday night. It will be Nola's first start in eight days. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola gets the start in Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on Friday night. It will be Nola's first start in eight days. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)Read moreMitchell Leff / Getty Images

Baseball fans and bettors everywhere can finally rejoice: The World Series is, at long last, ready to begin.

Five days after the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros clinched their respective league championships, both squads will return to the diamond Friday for Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

The abnormally long layoff means both sides come into the World Series fully rested. But since baseball players are the ultimate creatures of habit, it also means both sides could be a bit rusty.

Just how much did the rest vs. rust factor shape how we handicapped Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 odds? Honestly, quite a bit. Here’s how we’re betting the long-awaited opener of the 2022 World Series, with first pitch scheduled for 8:03 p.m. ET on Fox.

Note: Odds updated as of 10:45 a.m. ET on Oct. 28.

Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 Prediction

  1. Under 6.5 runs (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 Prediction: Analysis

More than any other athletes, baseball players live for routines. It’s how they get through the grind of a seemingly never-ending 162-game season. When those routines are drastically disrupted, many players get off-kilter — and that’s especially true with hitters, for whom timing is the ultimate key to success.

So while the Phillies’ and Astros’ everyday players tried to keep sharp this week in the batting cage and film room, it’s not an adequate substitute for facing live, 95 mph heaters coming from 60 feet, 6 inches away.

And rest assured, hitters on both sides will be seeing plenty of those heaters buzzing at them in Game 1. After all, Houston starter Justin Verlander averaged 95 mph on his fastball this season, while Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola’s fastball lit up the radar gun at an average of 92.8 mph.

Don’t be surprised to see both numbers tick up Friday night, for two reasons: Game 1 adrenaline and ultra-fresh arms.

Speaking just to the latter, Verlander hasn’t been on the mound since the opener of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 19. Nola has been idle since pitching earlier that same day in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series in San Diego.

Yeah, but aren’t you worried about those guys being rusty, too?

Nope. Unlike hitters, pitchers — particularly starters — relish extra rest, especially late in the season. And with Nola and Verlander, the numbers back that up.

Since Aug. 1, Nola has made seven starts on more than four days’ rest, and he gave up zero or one run in five of those outings. As for Verlander, he pitched on extra rest most of the year after missing the 2020 and 2021 seasons following Tommy John surgery. That’s likely a big reason why the 39-year-old was so dominant, going 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA.

But looking just at his 13 starts on extra rest after the All-Star break (playoffs included), Verlander gave up two runs or fewer nine times and allowed more than three runs just once. That was in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against Seattle, when the likely AL Cy Young winner got tagged for six runs on 10 hits in four innings.

However, Verlander bounced back strong in his next (and most recent) start eight days later against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He toyed with New York’s hitters for six innings, yielding a run on three hits and a walk while striking out 11.

Obviously, neither Verlander nor Nola will go the distance Friday night. Which means both bullpens will be counted on to keep runs off the board if we’re to cash the Under. Well, Verlander is backed by baseball’s best bullpen (Astros relievers have allowed three earned runs in 33 postseason innings).

The Phillies’ pen hasn’t been nearly as dominant (3.19 ERA). But the five-day break between the NLCS and World Series means manager Rob Thompson has all of his top arms fresh and available.

Make no mistake: As good as both pitching staffs are, there will be plenty of runs scored in this World Series. The Phillies’ and Astros’ hitters are that talented. It’s just going to take at least one game for those hitters to regain their timing and rhythm.

We’ll take advantage of that likelihood, call for a 3-1 final score and play Game 1 of the World Series Under the total at Caesars Sportsbook.

Phillies vs. Astros Game 1 Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Moneyline: Phillies (+143) @ Astros (-170)

  2. Run line: Phillies +1.5 runs (-165) @ Astros -1.5 runs (+140)

  3. Total: 6.5 runs (Over -125/Under +105)

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