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2022 World Series: Phillies vs. Astros in unexpected finale

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ALCS Yankees Astros Baseball

Astros right-hander Justin Verlander has had some issues in the World Series with a 5.68 ERA in seven starts.

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In this week's FPBcast, Gerry Ahern and Mike Szvetitz look at games and betting lines that stand out in final weekend of the month.

The hottest team in baseball will meet a hot player in all his superstar glory when the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies butt heads in a World Series that only a computer simulation could have predicted.

The Astros’ presence comes as no surprise. Their fourth trip to the World Series in six seasons comes after they rolled to 106 regular-season wins and the best record in the American League. Houston has validated its credentials by winning all seven playoff games.

The Phillies are an entirely different story. They didn’t lock up their playoff berth until three games remained in the regular season and they wouldn’t have even been in the playoffs at all had MLB not expanded its postseason field to three wild-card teams this year.

While the Astros (-185 ) have it all from a deep pitching staff to solid defense and a won’t-quit offense, the Phillies (+160) have turned a questionable regular-season roster of all-slug, no-glove into a victory machine amid the October sprint for a title.

Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper has turned what were once unrealistic expectations in his youth into super-human results, with five home runs in 11 playoff games, including the dramatic go-ahead homer in Game 5 of the NLCS to eliminate the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

The Astros also advanced Sunday with their second-consecutive series sweep, taking down the New York Yankees in the ALCS and Seattle Mariners in the ALDS. Rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena replaced Carlos Correa this season and has made his presence felt, earning the ALCS MVP.

FrontPageBets breaks down the Fall Classic.

(Odds courtesy DraftKings and subject to change.)

The race to 11

Since the best-of-five division series was put in place, no team has won 11 consecutive playoff games on the way to a title, but the Astros have a chance after sweeps in the first two rounds. Two teams have gone 11-1, including the 2005 Chicago White Sox, who pulled off the feat against the Astros, then an NL club. The 1999 Yankees also went 11-1. Neither 11-1 club, though, entered the World Series unbeaten. The Astros are on a mission and look as if they can only beat themselves.

Astros to win the World Series (-185)

Keep the party going

The Phillies’ stirring playoff run has whipped Philadelphia into a frenzy and the club will ride the momentum into Game 1. The Phillies’ best chance of winning a game could come in the opener, even if they are on the road. Expected Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler has been better than ever. Expected Houston starter Justin Verlander is the likely AL Cy Young winner, but he already has a clunker of a start in this postseason and has a career 5.68 ERA in the World Series (seven starts).

Phillies +1.5 in Game 1 (-155); Phillies moneyline in Game 1 (+145)

Settling into the series

Look for the Phillies to ride Wheeler and his 1.78 postseason ERA as long as they can in the opener. Verlander, who was impressive in the ALCS against the Yankees, doesn’t figure to have as long of a leash. But that is mostly because the Astros’ bullpen has a 0.82 ERA in 33 postseason innings. That short home-run porch in left field might look inviting, but Game 1 figures to go the way of the pitchers.

Game 1 under 6.5 runs (+100)

Staying in the park

The Phillies are built for slugging percentage, leading all playoff teams in that category at .442. Yet no AL pitching staff gave up less home runs than the Astros, who saw 134 hit against them. And against right-handed-handed hitting, Houston’s 81 home runs allowed were tied for best in baseball. The Phillies’ Nick Castellanos does not have a home run in 11 postseason games in 2022 and has just three extra-base hits in 44 plate appearances.

Castellanos under 0.5 home runs in World Series (-140)

Familiarity with the situation

The Astros’ Alex Bregman knows what the playoffs are all about with 80 career postseason games and 20 of those in the World Series. And while he was not at his 2018 and 2019 levels, Bregman still hit 23 home runs with 93 RBIs and an .820 OPS. He has also delivered this postseason with two home runs among his four extra-base hits. If the Phillies elect to play it careful with Yordan Alvarez, Bregman is set to follow and put his playoff experience to use.

Bregman over 0.5 home runs in World Series (-115)

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FrontPageBets' Mike Szvetitz is above .500 for the first time this season against the spread. This week, he's counting on the road favorites to come through.

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