MLB Best Bets Today: Diamondbacks vs. Rangers Game 1 World Series Odds, predictions and picks

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MLB schedule today has 1 game

Game 1 of the 2023 World Series on Friday night features the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers, which is not at all the matchup that we expected coming into the season. The Diamondbacks finished 13 games out of a Wild Card spot last season and the Rangers finished 18 games out. What a difference a year makes!

 

As they have in every series this postseason, the Diamondbacks face long odds and they are a sizable underdog in Game 1. They are 2-1 in that role in these playoffs. The Rangers are 3-0 in Game 1s, but this is their biggest favorite role in that situation to this point.

I wrote up my Diamondbacks vs. Rangers series preview a couple days ago, so you can check that, but here are my thoughts on Game 1.

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Here are some thoughts on the October 27 card (odds from DraftKings):

(odds as of 8:45 a.m. PT)

Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers (-162, 8.5)

It is always important to take stock of the market and shop around for whatever your preferred bet actually is in hopes of getting the best possible price. In this instance, the line on the Diamondbacks is pretty competitive in the market, but the -162 number at DraftKings is among the highest out there. Even though underdogs have done very well this postseason, especially these two teams, there is a pretty big gap on paper based on the full body of work between the Rangers and Diamondbacks.

Betting lines will shade the better starting pitcher, unless the gap is small. If it is, they’ll shade the better offense and Texas undoubtedly has the better offense. That’s been true of the regular season and the postseason, including a big gap between the two in terms of performance with runners in scoring position.

Also, Gallen has struggled in the playoffs. He comes into this start with a 5.24 ERA and a 6.93 FIP over four playoff starts. I spent a lot of time throughout the season and into the postseason talking about how Gallen had some underlying metrics that were eventually going to catch up with him, namely a 49.4% Hard Hit% and a 10% Barrel% in the second half. Here in the playoffs, he has allowed 13 runs on 24 hits and six of them have been home runs. To me, the greater concern here is that he only has 13 strikeouts out of 96 batters for a 13.5% K%. That is nearly half of his 26% regular season K%.

Gallen’s BB% has also spiked. He’s thrown 232.1 innings this season, which is a big leap from 184 innings last season and 121.1 innings in 2021. I think we’re looking at a perfect storm of an increased workload + the correction in his numbers due to his contact management stats + the caliber of opposition.

The other thing at play here for Gallen is that he came into the playoffs with some stark home/road splits.

Home: 102 IP, 2.47 ERA, .232 FIP, .230/.263/.339, .262 wOBA, 7 HR, 30.1% K%, 4.5% BB%
Away: 108 IP, 4.42 ERA, 4.15 FIP, .245/.302/.422, .313 wOBA, 15 HR, 22.4% K%, 6.5% BB%

One of the downsides to being a low seed is that your top pitchers almost always pitch on the road. In Gallen’s case, not only did he see big spikes in OBP and SLG on the road, but they were largely a byproduct of a huge K% decrease. Gallen has only made one home start out of four outings in the postseason. Here’s another one.

Eovaldi has been a bit of a shocking surprise this postseason. He came back from injury at the start of September and went right to the MLB roster because the minor league season was dwindling and the Rangers felt it best to just let him get stretched out and get back on track at the MLB level. That nearly proved to be a terrible decision because Eovaldi was awful and the Rangers were in a fight for the playoffs during the final week of the season.

Eovaldi missed over a month and a half and came back to make six starts in September with a 9.30 ERA and a 7.88 FIP in 20.1 innings of work. He gave up seven homers in that span, including four over his final two starts against Seattle with 12 runs allowed on 11 hits in 8.1 innings of work.

Here in the playoffs, Eovaldi has allowed seven runs total – the same number he gave up in his final regular season start – over four outings and has 28 strikeouts against four walks. Eovaldi did walk three in his Game 6 start against Houston, but he only allowed an average exit velocity of 78.9 mph. He also only had five whiffs on 36 swings, so I’m not really sure how to handle those two polar opposite indicators.

My guess here is that Gallen struggles. He had five strikeouts over 11 strikeouts against the Phillies and allowed five homers. The Rangers have power potential up and down the lineup as well. The question is whether or not Eovaldi struggles.

The Diamondbacks were fourth in batting average against pitches 95+ mph during the regular season. They didn’t generate a lot of SLG against those pitches, but they were a low-SLG lineup most of the season anyway. But, they got hits. And they got guys on base. Over the last three seasons (albeit only one with Texas), opposing baserunners are 31-for-35 stealing against Eovaldi. They were 8-for-12 this season, so credit to Jonah Heim for helping out, but I do think the Diamondbacks will look to be aggressive against him.

The Rangers have not used any relievers since Monday and only three of their relievers have pitched in the last week. I feel like rust could be a thing for those guys. I also think both starters could have some hiccups. While both teams could be tight and that could hurt in the run-scoring department a little bit, Gallen’s fastball has looked really flat and I think the D-Backs match up okay against Eovaldi, specifically against the fastball.

I like the 1st 5 Over 4.5 a little more than the full-game 8.5. The relievers might be able to have a little more success by virtue of working in short bursts and because relievers tend to have more quirks. These two teams haven’t faced each other much. But, the planning for the starters has been going on for days, so I like runs early, and hopefully often.

Pick: 1st 5 Over 4.5 (-110)