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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:56 PM

World Series Cheat Sheet

For the first time in franchise history, the Nationals have advanced to the World Series. Washington squares off with Houston, who is playing in its second Fall Classic in the last three seasons as things start up Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

Washington has been fighting back all season long, starting with erasing a 19-31 record in late May to grab the top Wild Card spot in the National League by finishing 93-69. The Nationals rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the Wild Card game against the Brewers for a 4-3 victory to advance to the NLCS against the favored Dodgers. Washington wiped out a 2-1 series edge by Los Angeles to win Game 4 at home, followed by a 7-3 triumph in extra innings to knock out the two-time defending NL champions.

The Astros have gone through quite the decade by winning 56 games or fewer for three straight seasons from 2011-13. Houston went through the process of trusting its minor league system, while also acquiring several big name players via trades to become a consistent playoff team in the American League. The Astros have qualified for the postseason in four of the past five seasons, while coming off three consecutive 100+ win seasons and three American League West division titles.

Houston squandered a 2-0 series lead in the ALDS against Tampa Bay by losing a pair of games at Tropicana Field to the Rays before capturing the decisive Game 5 at home to advance to its third straight ALCS. The Astros took home their third ever pennant on Jose Altuve’s walk-off home run to knock off the Yankees in six games, 6-4 as Houston has posted a 5-1 record at Minute Maid Park this postseason.

This World Series spotlights several of the game’s best pitchers as the first two contests in Houston highlight a pair of Cy Young winners along with two other hurlers that combined for 38 victories this season. Starting with Houston, the Astros send out Cy Young favorite Gerrit Cole to the hill in the series opener.

Cole finished the regular season with a career-high 20 victories, while Houston has won each of his past 16 starts dating back to July 17. In eight of Cole’s last nine outings, the right-hander has given up one earned run or fewer, while yielding a total of one run in three playoff starts. Cole’s latest gem came in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Yankees by tossing seven scoreless innings in a 4-1 triumph, but he struck out only seven batters, which ended an 11-start streak of double-digit strikeouts.

Justin Verlander helped the Astros capture their first World Series title in 2017 after coming over from the Tigers in August. Verlander seeks his second championship as he is fresh off a 21-6 regular season mark, the second-most wins in his stellar career (24 wins in 2011). The former Cy Young winner and MVP has seen his ups and downs this postseason as the Astros are 2-2 in his four outings. Houston is 2-0 in his two starts at Minute Maid Park as he allowed two earned runs in 13.2 innings of work, but was racked in two away outings by giving up four runs and two home runs each in losses at Tampa Bay and New York.

Zack Greinke was the coldest pitcher of the Astros’ Big Three starters during the playoffs in losses to Tampa Bay and New York, but he rebounded as a road underdog in an 8-3 victory in Game 5 in the Bronx. Although Greinke received a no-decision, the former Cy Young winner scattered three hits and gave up one run in 4.1 innings of work as the Astros are 5-2 in his seven road starts since coming over from Arizona. Greinke is slated to start Game 3 at Nationals Park, as he is the only Astros’ player to face Washington this season by tossing 7.1 shutout innings in a 5-0 victory back on June 13.

On the Washington side, the Nationals send out their big guns in the first two games at Minute Maid Park with Max Scherzer starting Game 1 and Stephen Strasburg going in Game 2. Scherzer is pitching in his first World Series since 2012 as a member of Detroit and picked up a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to San Francisco as the Giants swept the Tigers. The three-time Cy Young winner struggled in his first postseason start against Milwaukee in the Wild Card game by giving up a pair of homers in five innings, but the Nats rallied to get Scherzer off the hook. Scherzer was fantastic in his last two playoff starts by allowing five hits and one run in 14 innings in victories over the Dodgers and Cardinals.

Strasburg posted a career-high 18 wins and 251 strikeouts, while the Nationals won 24 of his 36 starts this season. The former top pick is unbeaten in his past five starts, including a pair of road victories against the Dodgers in the NLDS. Strasburg struck out 12 batters in seven innings in his most recent outing at St. Louis in Game 3 of the NLCS in an 8-1 rout, marking his 10th quality start in his last 11 tries. Washington put together a 5-2 record in Strasburg’s seven starts as a road underdog in 2019, as he is facing Houston for the first time since 2017 when he tossed six scoreless innings in a 5-4 extra-innings win.

Patrick Corbin is also making his first World Series along with Strasburg as the former Diamondbacks’ hurler will start Game 3 at Nationals Park. Corbin came over to Washington on a six-year, $140 million deal in the offseason following six seasons in Arizona. The southpaw won 14 games in a season for the third time in his career, as Washington won 14 of his 18 home starts, including a 12-1 mark in his past 13 at Nationals Park. Corbin struck out a season-high 12 batters in the pennant-clinching game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, while coming within one out of a complete game shutout in a 4-0 win at Houston back in 2017.

Since 2010, home teams have compiled an 8-1 record in Game 1 of the World Series with the only road team win in this span being San Francisco in 2014 at Kansas City. The task for Washington to win the first two games of this series on the road is a difficult one against Cole and Verlander, but history goes against them as well. The last team to win the first two games of the World Series on the road was the Yankees back in 1999 in a four-game sweep of the Braves.

In Houston’s only World Series title run in 2017, the Astros outlasted the Dodgers in seven games, although they didn’t have home-field advantage. The last underdog to capture a Game 1 win came in 2012 by the Giants, who stunned the Tigers as +155 home ‘dogs, 8-3. Since getting blanked in Game 1 of the NLDS by Los Angeles, the Nationals have won four straight road games, while Washington is 18-3 in its past 21 games heading into the World Series.


Dating back to 2012, these teams have met in four interleague series. The Nationals have gone 9-1 and the 'under' has produced a 7-3 record.

Washington 5 at Houston 4 (Underdog +123, Over 8)
Houston 6 vs. Washington 1 (Favorite -144, Under 9.5)
Washington 4 at Houston 3 (Underdog +158, Under 9)

Washington 6 vs. Houston 5 (Favorite -172, Over 8)
Washington 6 vs. Houston 5 (Favorite -145, Under 9.5)

Washington 7 at Houston 0 (Favorite -137, Under 8)
Washington 4 at Houston 3 (Favorite -138, Under 8)

Washington 5 at Houston 0 (Favorite -169, Under 7.5)
Washington 4 at Houston 3 (Favorite -215, Under 8.5)
Washington 3 at Houston 2 (Favorite -175, Under 8.5)

World Series Betting Trends and Results

-- Favorites have gone 19-12 the last five World Series

-- Run-line favorites own a 14-5 record in the 19 games that the favorites won

-- We haven’t seen much disparity in home/away numbers with the hosts holding a slight 16-15 edge over the visitors

-- The ‘over’ is 16-14-1 since 2104 but the ‘under’ has gone 7-4-1 (63.6%) the last two years

World Series Betting Trends
Year Favorites-Underdogs Home-Away Run-Line Favorites Over-Under
2018 3-2 3-2 2-1 2-3
2017 4-3 4-3 3-1 2-4-1
2016 5-2 2-5 3-2 3-4
2015 2-3 3-2 1-1 5-0
2014 5-2 4-3 5-0 4-3
Total 19-12 16-15 14-5 16-14-1

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