The Philadelphia Phillies' overall talent and grit as feisty underdogs will keep the mighty Houston Astros from sweeping or winning the championship in a short series – but eventually all that great pitching will be the difference and lift them to a World Series title.
The Phillies are "America's Team." For now.
A recent poll shows that 80 percent of baseball fans are cheering for the Phillies in the World Series. The Astros have become the game's Darth Vader. That's not really fair to a great team that's on the brink of a mini-dynasty if they're able to win what would be a second championship in six seasons, and four out of six AL pennants.
We also must credit the Phillies as the 2022 Cinderella team. They were dead and buried back in June, but somehow pulled off a staggering run in their final 100 games before upsetting the Cardinals, Braves, and Padres in the playoffs.
The Phillies may have entered as the sixth and final seed in the National League but they advanced all the way to the Fall Classic. Meanwhile, the American League's No. 1 seed, the Astros, rolled over the opposition and never seemed in danger of elimination.
Are the Astros simply too good to beat? Or, are the Phillies a team of destiny much like the Nationals and Braves who came from nowhere to win it all in recent seasons? We shall see.
The best-of-seven series starts Friday night in Houston. The first pitch gets thrown at 8:00 pm ET / 5:00 pm PT.
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Prediction (powered by Pointspreads,ca):
Spreads.ca lists the Astros as nearly a 2 to 1 favourite. Risking 1.00 on Houston returns 1.86. Betting 1.00 on Philadelphia returns 2.60.
We see some value with Houston winning the series. This team is simply too deep, has extraordinary pitching, and looks unbeatable right now having won 7 straight postseason games.
Indeed, it starts (and ends) with pitching. Houston brings Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, both frontline starters, at the top of their rotation. They follow on the 3-4 slot with Cristian Javier and Lance McCullers Jr., each of whom would be aces on most teams. As good as their starting pitching is, the talent in their bullpen -- including Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Ryne Stanek, Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris, and Hunter Brown -- may be as strong as we've seen in any recent postseason lineup. The Astros are excellent at just about everything – but their pitching is why they remain undefeated this postseason.
Key Stat: Houston held the explosive 99-win New York Yankees to just 9 runs in a four-game sweep. That's dominance.
The Phillies' gritty determination will likely keep the Astros from either sweeping or winning in a short series. But eventually all that great Houston pitching will win out for them. The longer this series goes, the better it is for Houston, as Philadelphia can't match the Astros arm for arm. A best-of-seven usually isn't won at the plate but on the pitchers' mound. That's where Houston prevails.
We like Houston to win it all, 4 games to 2 games.
In game 1, the Astros are a smaller favourite (1.60), which looks like an even better value. The total is 6.5 runs, which is very low for a Houston game.
We lean to the Astros and the OVER in Game 1.