Cinderella Story from Philadelphia meets Houston’s favored Astros. Who will come out on top?
The 2022 World Series will decide Major League Baseball’s champion in the unlikeliest of matchups – at least on one side.
MLB’s new playoff system includes 12 teams in the postseason – six from each league. While the American League went exactly as expected with the top-seeded Astros claiming the pennant, the No. 6 seed in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, turned the playoff picture upside down in clinching their first trip to the Fall Classic since 2009.
The series starts on Friday night in Houston and continues the next night. The best-of-seven series shifts to Philadelphia for games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) and returns to Houston next weekend for games 6 and 7 if a winner has not been determined.
Let’s dive into our Houston Astros vs Philadelphia Phillies betting preview.
American League Champions: Houston Astros
Baseball’s most consistent team in 2022 is right where they belong, playing for the title for the fourth time in six years.
The Astros had about the quietest 106-win season possible, as the Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed most of the headlines with a similar run through the National League, while Aaron Judge’s home-run record chase got the attention in the American League.
But the Dodgers dropped a divisional round to San Diego, while the Astros made quick work of Judge and the Yankees in the AL Championship Series.
So here are the Astros, with an impressive lineup, pitching staff, bullpen – all year, it was between Houston and the Dodgers for “best roster in MLB” and the Astros have won the debate decisively.
Best Roster in the MLB?
They are yet to drop a game this postseason, sweeping through the Mariners in the divisional round and the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Justin Verlander, a future Hall of Famer and likely Cy Young favorite for this year, led the pitching staff most of the season, but it’s been lefty Framber Valdez with the biggest performances in the postseason. Valdez is 1-0 in two games, with 15 strikeouts over 12.2 innings and an ERA of 1.42.
What’s scarier is the Astros’ bullpen could be the true strength of their pitching. Allowing only three runs in 29 innings this postseason, this unit is led by Rafael Montero, former Phillie Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and closer Ryan Pressley. Their most impressive feat? Twelve innings of shutout ball in the clinching win against the Mariners in the divisional round.
The offense has few weaknesses, led by Yordan Alvarez’s .306 average and 37 home runs, along with Kyle Tucker’s 106 RBIs during the regular season. Yuli Gurriel and Jeremy Peña have stepped up in bigger roles over the first seven games of the postseason.
Longtime MLB manager Dusty Baker leads Houston.
National League Champions: Philadelphia Phillies
Meet the perfect underdogs to stare down a juggernaut like the Astros without blinking. Philadelphia, winners of only 87 games in the regular season and the last team to qualify for the National League playoffs, is on fire at the perfect time.
It’s hard to tell the story of the Phillies’ season because it’s like a mini-series with so many twists and turns. Two months in, the Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi and named Rob Thomson interim manager. This created a quick burst, but the team hit a wall when superstar Bryce Harper went down with a broken thumb.
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By September, Harper was back, but pitching woes and injuries made the Phillies scrap and fight until the season’s final series to qualify for the postseason.
And then they took off, dispatching St. Louis in two games and Atlanta in four, before turning a tight National League championship series into a five-game run away. How? They have created a best-case scenario for a somewhat top-heavy roster, getting outstanding play from their stars and contributions from unexpected sources.
First, the superstars – National League home-run leader Kyle Schwarber broke out of a brief slump with three home runs last series vs. San Diego, while Harper is setting a torrid pace through the postseason with five home runs, a .419 batting average and out-of-this-world 1.351 OPS.
Can they sustain these paces? Well, of course not long-term, but…
- There’s no such thing as long term in the playoffs, and:
- The pitching has been good enough to survive a drop off
That’s because of Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phillies’ 1-2 punch each slated to pitch two games in the World Series if it goes six or more games. The duo accounts for six of Philly’s 11 postseason starts thus far with three wins to their credit and more than a strikeout per inning. Wheeler has been particularly untouchable with a WHIP of 0.51 in four starts.
What About the Supporting Cast?
Now that we’ve established the Phillies can match Houston in star power, what about the supporting cast? Rhys Hoskins heated up in a big way during the last two games of the NLCS, blasting three home runs. Catcher JT Realmuto’s highlight came in the divisional round with an inside-the-park home run, and he’s probably baseball’s best defensive catcher.
Hoskins and Realmuto hit much better at home in Philadelphia than on the road (something to keep in mind for prop bets in games 3, 4, and 5.)
The bullpen, like the starting rotation, has a couple of stalwarts at the back end (lefty José Alvarado and right Seranthony Dominguez) with David Robertson and Zach Eflin as additional contributors.
Beyond Wheeler and Nola, Philadelphia figures to use lefty Ranger Suarez in game 3 before cobbling together a ‘bullpen game’ for Game 4 with lefty Bailey Falter, Noah Syndergaard, and anyone else who can get three outs at a time.
2022 World Series Astros vs Phillies Prediction
As of Thursday, the prices for World Series champions at FanDuel:
|Philadelphia Phillies||+1.5 (-154)||+144||Over 6.5 (-124)|
|Houston Astros||-1.5 (+128)||-172||Under 6.5 (+102)|
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Philadelphia has made a living off playing with nothing to lose this postseason. From the very first playoff game – a comeback against previously untouchable St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley – the Phillies’ offense has gotten just the number of hits and runs they have needed. They ran away from Atlanta in the divisional series, but only after eking out a 7-6 game one win.
Anyone who watched the NLCS can tell you how easily any of those three games in Philadelphia could’ve turned. But every time it was the Phillies getting a big hit, a big play on defense, or a clutch pitch out of the bullpen.
Philadelphia swept St. Louis and came home tied at 1 against Atlanta and San Diego. They’re a perfect 5-0 at Citizens Bank Park in the playoffs and enjoy a homefield advantage fueled by a fanbase that’s waited a decade for postseason baseball. But they’ve never faced elimination or even a deficit in a series. If Houston can create a hole for the Phillies, will they be able to dig out?
The Astros’ story is much simpler. No one’s beaten them yet. A 7-0 start to the postseason speaks for itself and continues to do so until someone changes the number in that loss column.
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Philadelphia needs to do so immediately. If the Phillies get to Verlander in game one and steal a victory, suddenly they’re facing Valdez, knowing they are the National League’s best team at hitting against left-handed pitchers. Take game one, and now you’ve got a hot team with confidence, knowing they’re heading home – where they’re unbeaten – in a worst-case 1-1 tie. All the pressure shifts to Houston.
But that’s easier said than done against Verlander. Both his postseason starts have seen the opposing teams get to him early to differing extents. The veteran gets stronger as the game goes on, and with each win Houston looks increasingly like an unbeatable force.
In summary – if you have faith in Philadelphia and Nola in game one, look at the Series line because Wheeler’s pitching as well as anyone in baseball right now. It’s much closer than it looks on paper, and as soon as the Phillies get their first win of the series, the odds will start to reflect an even matchup, and you might even be able to get some plus-money prices on the Astros.
2022 World Series Astros vs Phillies Betting Picks
Bet 1: Philadelphia Phillies to Win 2022 World Series (+165 @ FanDuel)
Bet 2: Philadelphia Phillies -1.5 Games (+275 @ DraftKings)
Pick 3: Phillies to Win World Series 4-2 (+650 @ BetMGM)