Last night we saw the Houston Astros tie up the World Series at two games apiece in game four of the Fall Classic. After losing the first two games at home, the Astros have managed to fight their way back into the series and now have regained home-field advantage. Houston got an unlikely five innings of stellar work from rookie starter Jose Urquidy, who allowed no runs on just two hits. And the Astros lineup finally came alive for the first time in this series as they exploded for eight runs. Patrick Corbin struggled, and the Washington bullpen was battered yet again as they allowed four runs in just three innings of work.
While the game went over as I predicted, I thought the scoring was going to be coming from both sides in what I expected to be a competitive game. Instead, it was just Houston breaking out the bats, and after scoring seventeen runs in the first two games of this series, the Nationals have now scored just one run in each of the last two games. The Nationals were in the driver’s seat for the last two games and couldn’t find a way to win at home, now they have to win at home tonight if they want a realistic shot to win the first-ever World Series title in franchise history. For today’s pick, we will stay right here in Washington and break down a pivotal game five.
The Washington Nationals need to find a way to win tonight at home in game five of the World Series. The Nationals have blown a 2-0 series lead, and if they can’t win tonight, they are going to see their title hopes go up in smoke. For Houston, they did what they had to do to get back into this series, and now will look to take their first lead of the series tonight.
Starting for the Nationals is Max Scherzer (3-0 2.16 ERA), and for the Astros it is Gerrit Cole (3-1 1.82 ERA). The game total over-under is set at seven runs. The Astros are -145 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington DC.
We have a star-studded pitching matchup again tonight in game five as we have two of the best in the game on the mound. The Nationals will go with game one starter and multi-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Scherzer has been lights out in the playoffs so far for Washington as he has made five appearances and has a 3-0 record and a 2.16 ERA to show for it, and more importantly for Washington, they have won all five games he has pitched in.
In game one of this series, Scherzer gutted out five innings and allowed just two earned runs on 112 pitches and picked up the winning decision for his efforts. Before that start, Scherzer had allowed just one earned run in his previous three appearances, spanning fifteen innings. Mad Max has thirty-four strikeouts in just twenty-five postseason innings pitched. Scherzer is the ace of this loaded starting pitching staff for Washington, and they need seven-plus innings out of him tonight if they want to survive at home.
For much of this season, it looked like Gerrit Cole was superhuman. Post-All-Star break, he was 11-0 with a 1.79 ERA. Before being charged with the loss in game one of this series, Cole hadn’t had a losing decision since May! But in game one, he looked very human as he got tagged for five earned runs. The Nationals were able to get to him early and often, and even though Washington’s shaky bullpen struggled, they held on for a huge upset win. The Astros will need Cole to regain his previous postseason abilities as he was 3-0 with an ERA below one run in three starts.
What a game! With the series momentum on the line, we couldn’t ask for a better starting pitching matchup than this one. While both of these guys struggled some in game one, I think they will both be great tonight in game five. This is going to be a game where runs are very hard to come by, and both teams are going to do whatever it takes to get the win.
So, where is the value? Well, I like Washington. I know they have looked like complete duds on offense in the last two games, and Gerrit Cole is absolutely filthy, but I just can’t pass up on getting Max Scherzer as a home underdog. Scherzer has done everything for the Nationals in his time with the team, except win them a World Series title. I think we will see the best Scherzer we have seen all postseason long tonight with so much on the line.
And I would be absolutely shocked to see Cole not be better than he was in game one as well. The five runs that Cole got blasted for in game one were as many as he had allowed in his previous eight starts combined. I see this as a 2-1 or 3-2 type of game that comes in well under the total. And I will be making a play on the under.
But the big value comes in backing Washington as home underdogs. With the road team winning each game so far in this series it feels like home-field advantage doesn’t matter; it does. And the Nats are going to be happy they are playing at home tonight in a must-win game. I think Washington finds a way to get back to their aggressive and timely hitting that won them the first two games of this series and take the win tonight. Give me the Washington Nationals as +135 home dogs tonight in game five from Nationals Park!