Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

Game 3 Best Bet

World Series Game 3 (FOX, 8:07 p.m. ET)
Houston Astros at Washington Nationals

The 2019 World Series has been full of surprises across the board through two games, as the great pitching matchups everyone expected to see has resulted in 24 total runs being scored in 18 innings of play. It's been the heavily underdogged Washington Nationals who came out on the right end of both of those results, now heading home to the nation's capital for three games and a chance to clinch the organization's first ever World Series crown.

Admittedly, I'm on the wrong side of this 2-0 series lead, as most of my pre-series bets look like nothing more then good fire-starting kindle at this point. But the Astros are far from dead though, as this team still heads to Washington with a 49-37 SU record away from home this year, and most of this core was there when the Astros won Game 7 on the road of the 2017 World Series. We haven't quite reached that true “must-win” stage yet with Houston, but going down 0-3 with two more games still to go in Washington will have Houston's backs pinned against the wall and struggling to kick out.

This is why Houston went out and got a form of insurance in bringing Zack Greinke to the team, and the Astros are hoping that a guy who's spent plenty of time in National League parks in recent years will help them get back on track in this World Series with a win in a NL park. Even down 0-2 in the series, Houston still comes into Game 3 as the 'chalk', and Greinke on the hill has a lot to do with it.

So will Greinke be the guy that helps get this thing turned around, or will the underdog Nationals continue to cash and grab a stranglehold on this World Series?

Game 3 MLB Betting Odds

Houston (-125) vs Washington (+115); Total set at 8

I'll begin with discussing the side here as it really is one that probably deserves to be held off on for the most part. There are just too many narratives and scenarios that bleed into the handicapping process here to really have a true handicap of the game. I mean, you can say stuff like “Houston isn't going to lose three in a row,” or “How is Washington still an underdog now that they are at home.”

Eventually, if you are betting this side, you'll use one of those types of narratives as support for your selection, and it's as simple as that. That's not something I prefer to get into all that often, and if that's what you're looking for I'm sure you'll find plenty of it over the next 48 hours from mainstream media outlets and others out there in this industry.

Instead, I'm looking at this total, and in a series that's been full of surprises in terms of results on both the side and total, I do believe we see that pattern hold true again for Game 3.

Early action on this total for Game 3 has seen nothing but 'over' action really, as the number opened up at 7 for a short while before getting to 7.5 with plenty of juice, and now flat 8's are popping up. That's such a reactionary move based on how the first two games have gone, and the more you are reactive and not proactive in your handicapping, chances are you'll be left paying the oddsmaker more times then not.

There is no argument from me that a pitching matchup of Greinke vs Anibal Sanchez looks much worse on paper than what we saw for Games 1 and 2, and simple reasoning would suggest that if the first two games easily cashed 'over' tickets, Game 3 has to as well right? The Nats have gotten offensive contributions from everyone in their lineup through the first 18 innings, and Houston's bats aren't exactly chopped liver either right. Yet, the key word I mentioned there is “simple” and you've always got to do as much digging as possible to find long-term success with your handicapping methods.

For one, the venue change brings a couple of significant changes. Obviously the biggest one is that there is no DH for either side here, and the “automatic” out that comes with the pitcher's spot batting for the first 5+ innings isn't exactly conducive to 'over' plays. Yes, I know Greinke is actually one of the better hitting pitchers in the game, and the use of “automatic” may be a little harsh, but the point remains the same. But that's just the first layer of the iceberg, as NL parks have not been kind to 'over' plays all year long when the Astros have been involved.

During the regular season, Houston went 2- 8 O/U as visitors in a National League park, averaging just 7.7 total runs scored per game. Yes, that average run number might be a little too close for some to pull the trigger on the 'under', but it includes a two-game set at Coors Field where one of the games finished with 17 total runs. You take out both of those Coors Field appearances (the other game finished with 6 total runs), and that average runs scored number drops to 6.75 runs per game which looks a whole lot better. Let's remember too, all of those games came in much more favorable conditions for baseball back in the summer, not being outdoors in Washington in cold, late-October evening weather.

And while the Astros did have Cole or Verlander pitching in a few of those NL ballpark games – which would help support an 'under' result – is Greinke really a huge step back in terms of talent level from those guys? I wouldn't say so as his career resume stacks up quite well with both of them, and I do expect him to be at or near his best for this critical game from Houston's perspective.

Furthermore, it was back in mid-June that Greinke – then a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks – came into Nationals Park and blanked Washington in a 5-0 win that saw him finish with a stat line of 7.1 IP and just two hits allowed on 75 pitches. His last seven career starts against the Nats – going back to 2013 – have all cashed 'under' tickets, and four of them have come at this ballpark specifically. Not one of those games finished with more than 5 total runs scored, and Greinke's teams came away with three shutout victories in his most recent four starts against Washington. Sometimes guys just like the way a particular mound or stadium looks and feels, and history suggests that may be the case with Greinke in, and against Washington.

Now, Anibal Sanchez on the other side does bring a few more concerns in terms of backing the 'under', as he's not always the most consistent guy out there, but his start in the NLCS was something special and hopefully he can recapture most of that performance a few weeks later here.

Houston's bats are nowhere near warm from a full lineup perspective in the playoffs right now, and given their lack of run production visiting NL ballparks this year – 3.625 runs scored per game at NL parks not named Coors Field – I'm not sure how you can rely on them to be successful in carrying their own weight in terms of an 'over' play.

The pitching duel that everyone expected in Game 1, and a little less so in Game 2, ends up showing up in Game 3 when the majority of the market has moved on from that line of thought. Colder, outdoor baseball with no DH already lends itself that way, and the more this total climbs, the more units I'll have on the low side of this number.

Best Bet: Under 8

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