World Series 2022: Astros Hope Healthy Pitching Can Tame Phillies

By | October 28, 2022

The 2022 World Series begins on Friday night when the Houston Astros host the Philadelphia Phillies for Game 1 in the best-of-seven series. And to steal a line from the late Yogi Berra, this year’s matchup feels like déjà vu all over again.

Minute Maid Park
The grounds crew at Minute Maid Park in Houston prepare for the start of the 2022 World Series, which begins Friday night at the park. The Houston Astros host Game 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies and are the favorite to win the championship, according to Caesars Sportsbook. (Image: ESPN)

It’s not a rematch of last year’s matchup, which featured the Atlanta Braves beating the Astros in six games. But similarities abound. Like last year’s Braves, this year’s Phillies squad was nearly counted out in the midseason before finishing with a strong second half to make the playoffs. Also, like last year, the Astros are once again a strong favorite to win. According to Caesars Sportsbook, Houston is a -200, or 1-2, favorite, while the Phils are +170.

But as baseball often proves in October, the perceived better team doesn’t always pop the champagne at the end.

This year, though, Houston has its top two pitchers – Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. – who weren’t available for last year’s Fall Classic due to injuries. Verlander, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer, gets the start Friday against the Phillies’ Aaron Nola.

It starts with pitching, and to have Lance and Verlander and to have the other young guys one year more mature and confident, it’s a good feeling,” Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters Thursday.

The Astros are the -170 favorite to win Game 1, according to Caesars, with Philadelphia at +143.

Friday’s game starts at 8:03 pm ET and will be aired on FOX.

Harper, Bregman Top MVP Bets

While the Astros are the favorites to win, the favorite to win the World Series MVP is Phillies slugger Bryce Harper.

The Las Vegas native has been nothing short of sensational in the postseason. In 11 games, he’s hitting .419 and slugging .907. In 43 at bats, he has five home runs, six doubles, and 11 runs batted in. His two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series clinched the game and the series against the San Diego Padres.

Caesars is offering Harper at +500 to win the postseason award. The sportsbook also offers a special odds boost at +850, though that’s limited to a $100 maximum wager. Earlier this postseason, a Pennsylvania bettor put down $100 on Harper when he was available at +7500.

Houston first baseman Yordan Alvarez, who is also having a fine postseason, is +600, while Verlander is available at +900.

Houston’s Alex Bregman, who started at +5000 and is now +1100, has attracted more than half of the Series MVP handle among the players in the World Series, according to Caesars. One Michigan bettor put $25,000 on the Astros third baseman when he was +1600 after they won the American League Championship Series. That would net the bettor $400,000 if Bregman wins.

Harper is the second-most popular pick, with 13.6% of the handle. He does have 16.5% of the tickets at Caesars, slightly more than the 15.8% of the bets on Bregman.

2022 World Series MVP Odds

Bryce Harper Phillies +500
Yordan Alvarez Astros +600
Justin Verlander Astros +900
Kyle Schwarber Phillies +1000
Alex Bregman Astros +1100
Jose Altuve Astros +1400
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Current as of 11 pm ET Thursday, and subject to change

Caesars on the Hook for Huge Mattress Mack Bet

The biggest bet Caesars has taken on the World Series came back in May when Houston businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale bet $3 million on his hometown team when the Astros were +1000 on the futures board. If they win it all, Mack will net $30 million.

That’s believed to be the single largest payout in the history of regulated US sports betting, Caesars Head of Sports Ken Fuchs told reporters Thursday. McIngvale has made large wagers on the Astros with other sportsbooks and stands to win upwards of $75 million from his $10 million in total bets.

“Being on the risk side of that, certainly, we’re sweating it, too,” Fuchs said. “It’s also a lot of fun to be on that side of it.”

There are other large wagers that have come in, though not nearly at the same odds. A number of six-figure bets on the Phillies have been placed through Caesars, both in Las Vegas and along the East Coast.

McIngvale’s wagers are almost always tied to a promotion he’s offering at his Houston-based Gallery Furniture chain, and he has made several large wagers in the past on the Astros to win it all. Some say those bets – as well as sportsbooks’ promotions of his wagers – amount to free advertising for his business. However, those bets also serve as a promotion for the books themselves, too.

Fuchs said McIngvale has won several large bets he’s placed with Caesars. With each wager, there’s a “piggyback” effect as well.

“Whenever he makes a bet, you see an uptick in interest for sure,” Fuchs said. “We do bet with bettors of all types, of all sizes, and so on a daily basis, our transaction volume is significant, regardless of who’s coming in to bet.

“But certainly, Mack is a really creative, passionate guy who’s using it in a very different way from a strategic business point of view. So, I think people respect that, and they respect what he’s done in his community as well. There is definitely some bandwagon aspect to it.”

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