It’s been a long week without baseball, but I’m happy to say that Game 1 of the World Series is just around the corner. The Astros bludgeoned their way through the American League side of the bracket, following up 106 regular season victories with a perfect 7-0 record in the ALDS and ALCS. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been riding some big bats and some Wild Card magic to reach this threshold for the first time in over a decade.
On Tuesday, I went over some series futures I like for this matchup. Today, I’ll be focusing solely on Friday’s action.
We’re 8-4 on article plays in the playoffs so far. Let’s keep it rolling.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
These props are always lower in the playoffs and, for the most part, that makes sense. In theory, pitchers have much shorter leashes with so much on the line, and managers are far more willing to increase the burden on their high-leverage arms in the bullpen. Heck, for this game in particular, both bullpens have had four days of rest and there’s another off-day scheduled for Sunday. There’s no reason for either the Astros or the Phillies to feel like their relievers need to be preserved.
However, Philadelphia and Houston have very different bullpen situations. The Phillies’ unit is certainly stronger with David Robertson healthy again, but Philadelphia isn’t exactly the 2015 Kansas City Royals. The strength of the team’s staff is Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, and I expect Rob Thomson to ride his two horses into the ground. While Nola did struggle in his only outing during the NLCS, he went at least six innings against both the Cardinals and the Braves. In fact, Nola worked at least six frames in 24 of his final 29 starts of the regular season, which included 6.2 scoreless innings versus the Astros back on October 3. It’s not like Nola hasn’t been dominant on the road in 2022, either. The RHP posted a 10.3 K/BB ratio and a 2.10 FIP within the split prior to the postseason.
Aside from the fact he’s hitting leadoff, I think there’s a lot to like about this prop. First and foremost, Kyle Schwarber isn’t exactly known for his consistent contact profile. Sure, when Schwarber does make contact, it tends to go a really, really long way — his .501 xwOBA on batted ball events is stunning — but the veteran outfielder is really more of a three true outcomes guy. Schwarber registered just 126 hits across 669 plate appearances during the regular season, with a 29.9% strikeout rate and a 12.9% walk rate really suppressing the overall volume. He hit .218. He’s now hitting .200 in the playoffs. It is what it is. He is who he is.
Then there’s the Justin Verlander element. The Cy Young favorite was downright disrespectful to left-handed hitters in 2022, with the 337 he faced during the regular season slashing a putrid .163/.214/.228. Verlander actually held opposing LHBs to a .235 xwOBA — the lowest mark in baseball among the 70 pitchers to square off with at least 250 lefties. It is worth noting that with Will Smith injured, Houston does not have a high-leverage southpaw coming out of the bullpen, something that plays to Schwarber’s advantage late in the game. However, the 29-year-old is a “boom or bust” asset. I’ll gladly bet bust at plus-money in a tough matchup.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and I may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.