The Houston Astros have home-field advantage in the 2019 World Series, thanks to their 107 regular-season wins. The Washington Nationals will host Games 3 and 4, and Game 5, too, if neither team finishes off a sweep.
Gerrit Cole will start Game 1 on Tuesday (8:08 p.m. ET, FOX) for the Astros. He led the majors with 326 strikeouts during the regular season, to go with a 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP and a 20-5 record. Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer (2.92 ERA, 12.7 K/9) will start for the Nationals in the series opener.
Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Nationals vs. Astros, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the 2019 World Series.
World Series 2019 odds for Astros vs. Nationals
The Astros opened as heavy World Series favorites at most sportsbooks. DraftKings lists Houston at -235, the largest World Series favorite since the 2007 Red Sox opened at -240 to beat the Rockies. If the Nationals pull off the upset, they would go down as one of the biggest underdogs ever to win a World Series.
Here is a look at the odds for most likely outcome:
*Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Astros vs. Nationals all-time series
The two teams didn’t meeting during interleague play in 2019, and they’ve only played seven games since the Astros moved from the NL to the AL for the 2013 season. In those seven games, the Nationals own a 6-1 record (4-0 in 2014, 2-1 in 2017). Since moving from Montreal to Washington, D.C., before the 2005 season, the Nationals are 36-25 against the Astros. The all-time head-to-head record between the two franchises gives the edge to the Astros, though, at 244-205.
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Three trends to know
— Fifty-nine percent of spread bettors like the Astros to cover at home in Game 1 (Houston, -1 1/2), but only 45 percent of the moneyline bettors like the Astros, too.
— As a home favorite of -150 to -200, the Astros (-188 in Game 1) are 15-9 this year. As a road underdog of +150 to +200, the Nationals (+181 in Game 1) are 5-7 this year.
— The Astros were baseball’s best team at home this year, rolling up a 60-21 record. The Nationals, though, had the third-most road wins for any NL team, with 43.
Three things to watch
Cole as ice
Garret Cole, Houston’s Game 1 (and maybe Game 4/5) starter, was sightly ridiculous this season. He set an MLB record for strikeouts per nine innings for a starter, at 13.8; Randy Johnson held the previous mark, at 13.4 in 2001. He led the AL with a 2.64 FIP, to go with his 2.50 ERA. But somehow, he’s been even better in October. In 22 2/3 postseason innings this month he’s allowed just 10 hits and one run (0.40 ERA), while striking out 32. If you’re a Nationals fan looking for some sort of hope, Cole did walk five batters in his ALCS start, and the Yankees did load the bases in the first inning and put multiple runners on base in four of Cole’s seven innings. He didn’t allow anyone to score, though.
Bullpen vs. Bullpen
The relief situation has been an issue for the Nationals for years, but with the trade addition of Daniel Hudson, the return of Sean Doolittle and the emergence of Tanner Rainey, all of a sudden the team from D.C. can feel pretty good about the late innings. It’s not a deep group, though, and others will be needed in a seven-game series, but these guys have shown the ability to close down big games. Those three aforementioned relievers combined to allow just three hits and one run in eight NLCS innings.
On the other hand, the Astros have felt good about their bullpen for a while now, but October results have been mixed. Will Harris, Joe Smith and Jose Urquidy have combined for 10 innings with only six hits and a pair of runs against the powerful Yankees lineup in the ALCS. Closer Roberto Osuna had been excellent, until he served up a two-run homer to D.J. LeMahieu in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. Josh James has allowed six hits, four walks and a couple earned runs in his five postseason innings. And Ryan Pressley, who has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball the past couple of years, hasn’t been good in the 2019 playoffs: in six appearances covering 2 2/3 innings, he has allowed nine hits and has a 13.50 ERA.
Yes, the Astros won 14 more games than the Nationals this year (107 to 93). That feels like a lot, for sure. But the gap between the two teams isn’t nearly as large as that W/L comparison would lead you to believe. The Astros were excellent all season, but the Nationals got off to a horrendous start that led to calls for manager Dave Martinez to be fired. At their low point, the Nationals were just 19-31 after a four-game sweep in New York by the Mets in late May.
Since then, though? The Nationals went 74-38 the rest of the way. The Astros’ record in that same time frame: 74-37. Yeah. And that’s not a small sample size, not a two-week stretch of games pulled out to give Nationals fans hope. Four the last four-plus months of the six-month season, the Nationals were every bit as good as the Astros. And you could argue that the Nationals’ 74 wins were more impressive than the Astros’ 74 wins, considering that the AL had five teams with at least 94 losses and the NL only had one. Anyway, don’t let the record disparity influence your decisions.
Stat that matters
Gerrit Cole’s 326 strikeouts were the most in MLB since Randy Johnson’s 334 in 2002 and the most in the NL since Nolan Ryan’s 341 way back in 1977.
World Series 2019 prediction
The oddsmakers have installed the Astros as a heavy favorite, but don’t discount the Nationals so quickly. We saw what their rotation is capable of in the NLCS, and even though the Astros’ lineup is clearly superior to the Cardinals’ lineup, the Nationals’ starters still will give the Houston hitters all they can handle. But, yeah, the Astros are really, really good, and their experience on the biggest stage feels important for the large moments.
SN’s pick: Astros in seven games
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