The Fall Classic has arrived.
While the Astros snuck up on no one this time around and marched their way into the World Series in rather dominant fashion, the Braves are the underdog here after rattling off a couple upsets along the way.
Let’s get ahead and break down both of these clubs, how they got here and their key to winning it all before diving into a series prediction as well as some prop bets holding significant value!
- Regular Season Record: 88-73 (5th in NL)
- Run Differential: +134 (3rd in NL)
How They Got Here
When Ronald Acuna went down with a season-ending ACL tear shortly before the All-Star break, things looked awfully bleak for the Braves’ chances with the Mets and Phillies giving them a run for their money in the NL East. Marcell Ozuna was already out with a broken hand before a domestic violence incident would end his season as well. All the sudden, two of the team’s best bats from a season ago were lost for the season with the Braves at 44-45 and 4.5 games back at the break.
With the team’s outfield in shambles, the ever-bold Alex Anthopoulos went out and acquired a quartet of proven outfield bats in Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario. The Braves would go 44-28 the rest of the way as both the Mets and Phillies tailed off, comfortably winning the east by 6.5 games and booking a postseason ticket to Milwaukee for an NLDS matchup with the favored Brewers.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 24, 2021
Despite having to face the daunting duo of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff in Milwaukee, the Braves would earn a split before heading home, winning two straight and preventing the series from returning to Wisconsin. While the offense battled a very good Brewers pitching staff, it was the Braves’ staff that did the heavy lifting, limiting the Crew to just six runs in the four-game set, posting a pair of shutouts in the process.
All that did was punch their ticket into an ALCS matchup with an even heavier favored L.A.Dodgers club, a team that won 106 games despite failing to catch the Giants in the NL West. That turned out to be big as the Braves began with home-field advantage as a division winner and won the first two games of the series at Truist Park in Atlanta.
While the Dodgers won two of the next three, the Braves never let that one go the distance, instead winning Game 6 in Atlanta by a 4-2 count over another Cy Young candidate in Walker Buehler, booking their ticket to a World Series matchup with the Astros where they will once again enter as underdogs.
How They Win the Series
Continue to pitch with the best of em’. While the trade-deadline deals boosted an offense that hadn’t quite lived up to expectations, the Braves are going to be in extremely tough if their pitching doesn’t continue to anchor the club and help keep an explosive Astros offense in check.
It’s going to be difficult to complete silence those bats as they did to the Brewers in the NLDS, but Houston has scored at least nine runs four times in 10 games this postseason and at least five runs in nine of those 10 contests. Houston led all of baseball with 863 runs on the season and 5.33 runs per game, but they’ve upped that average to 6.7 runs per game in these playoffs.
As good as this Braves offense can be while averaging 4.88 runs per game in the regular season, they’ve averaged just 4.00 runs per game in these playoffs. From just about every angle, they’re the inferior offense in this series.
As a result, it’s going to be tough to win if the pitching staff allows this Astros offense to run rampant again in the Fall Classic.
- Regular Season Record: 95-67 (2nd in AL)
- Run Differential: +205 (2nd in AL)
How They Got Here
While they didn’t run away with the AL West per se, the division was never really in doubt throughout the season as the Astros re-established themselves on the heels of a trip to another ALCS in 2020, but also an underwhelming 29-31 shortened-season record.
Comfortably a top-three offense from a variety of statistics, the Astros shrugged off the absence of long-time leadoff man George Springer and raked throughout the season.
Not to be outdone was a pitching staff that lost Justin Verlander before the season started due to Tommy John surgery. Despite Zack Greinke and newcomer Jake Odorizzi finishing with ERAs north of 4.00 and ranking fifth and sixth respectively in fWAR among starter, the Astros rotation ranked fifth with a 3.60 ERA as Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Christian Javier did yeoman’s work throughout the season.
Nonetheless, it appeared they were going to be in tough against a deep and dangerous Chicago White Sox lineup in the ALDS, but that series was never close. Houston swept the first two games at home by a combined 15-5 score, and despite yielding a 12-spot in Game 3 back in Chicago, they closed that series out with yet another offensive explosion as part of a series-clinching 10-1 blowout.
— MLB (@MLB) October 16, 2021
Things didn’t come as easy against the Red Sox in ALCS, at least no early. A split in Houston followed by a Game 3 loss in Houston had the Astros down 2-1 with two more games at Fenway Park before a potential return to Houston. The Red Sox scored 21 runs in winning Games 2 and 3, but would score just three runs over the series’ final three games as the Astros dominated the remainder series on both sides of the ball.
Needless to say, the Astros pose a tall task as they cruise into the World Series feeling good about their game from top to bottom.
How They Win the Series
Keep hitting. If they don’t hit, that clearly takes away a competitive advantage they have, not only in this matchup but against any other club in baseball. The Braves pitching has largely dominated in these playoffs, so it’s not as if the Astros enter the World Series with a major advantage on the mound.
Where they do have the advantage is at the plate where they’ve come up with clutch hits, crooked numbers and deflating rallies throughout these playoffs. When the NL batting champ in Yuli Gurriel is hitting in the seven-hole entering Game 1 on Tuesday night, you know it’s an ultra-deep lineup that can hurt you throughout.
We obviously have a pair of quality offenses going to-to-toe, but if the Astros don’t out-score the Braves in this series it will leave them susceptible to the upset.
Braves vs. Astros World Series Odds & Prediction
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
While much of the attention in this series is focused on the bats, I think we’re in for a better pitching matchup than we might think.
A major storyline for Houston is that lineup that has simply bashed its way to the Fall Classic and a re-tooled Braves lineup that punched their ticket to the postseason after a flurry of deadlines moves that improved their lineup. That said, we have two of the game’s best rotations going at it.
I noted the Astros finished fifth overall with a 3.60 rotation ERA, but the Braves checked in at seventh with a 3.84 mark. Charlie Morton and Max Fried both pitched like aces both in the regular season and playoffs so far, and Ian Anderson has found his postseason form with 12 innings of four-run ball in these playoffs and a 1.47 ERA in 30.2 postseason frames over the last two seasons.
The Astros went 51-30 at home this season which makes things difficult on Atlanta early in the series, it’s also worth noting that the Braves went a healthy 46-35 on the road compared to just 42-38 at home. They’re not fearful of losing on the road and they have Morton and Fried going in Games 1 and 2.
With such a tight pitching matchup on our hands, let’s go with the underdog at nice value.
Braves vs. Astros World Series Prop Bets
MVP – Charlie Morton (+2500)
I went a similar route with Stephen Strasburg to win the 2019 World Series MVP over these Houston Astros as he was the Game 2 and Game 6 starter, and while Morton gets the ball in Game 1, it leaves him with the opportunity to make three appearances in this series.
Everyone on the planet knows the Astros’ offense is deadly and absolutely raked their way into the World Series, so what if Charlie Morton goes out there tonight and shuts them down? Such a happening would put him in the driver’s seat and allow him to pitch in another important game at home later in the series.
If the series goes seven games, Morton could make three starts, two of which would come in Houston. Remember, he’s a former Astro himself and while his 3.95 career ERA at Minute Maid Park isn’t elite, he may have a book on his former teammates for Tuesday night and beyond.
At these odds, sign me up for the Braves’ Game 1 starter to bring home World Series MVP honors.
Correct Series Result – Braves 4-3 (+550)
This one here is paying out the exact same as a Braves 4-2 play, and I don’t see Atlanta trimming up Houston in fewer than six games, so to me I have a choice on my hands, and considering I’d want Morton to pitch a Game 7 and take home MVP honors in the process, another World Series Game 7 at Minute Maid Park makes the most sense with the Braves coming out on top.
Correct Score After Game 4 – Tie 2-2 (+150)
It’s not all that sexy, but I don’t see a sweep either way here, so I’m eliminating both of those options. We could have the Braves 3-1 at +300, but that seems like a tall task.
If we’re going seven games, let’s have a 2-2 deadlock after the first four games of the World Series.
Exact Number of Games in Series – 7 Games (+205)
Six games leads the way as the favorite at +195, but as noted above, I’m going the distance.
Series Spread – Braves +1.5 (-170)
Although I do like this play, I’m not sure there’s enough value here. To me, this is one to avoid, but if you’re super confident in Atlanta then go for it.
Total Games in Series – Over 5.5 (-220)
Another bet I’m going to avoid is this one despite being confident in this one going at least six games. There is just too much value in other series props and anything at -200 or worse is a pass for me.