Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros Matchup Preview (10/26/21): Betting Odds, Starting Lineups, Daily Fantasy Picks

After 162 games and a lengthy postseason pennant race, just two teams remain.

The 88-win Atlanta Braves managed to take out the 107-win Dodgers over six games. Brian Snitker and the front office deserve credit for turning around a lost season.

But so do the players on the field, including Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Joc Pederson, et cetera, for clinching Atlanta’s first National League title since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Astros have made their third World Series in the past five years – to the displeasure of every baseball fan outside of Houston.

But the Astros are loaded, and the Houston lineup is better than any in baseball.

As such, Houston has opened as a whopping -145 series favorite (Odds at BetMGM). But do the Astros have the tools to take down the red-hot Braves? Or, at the least, can the Astros win Game 1? 

Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros Betting Odds

The Astros can certainly win Game 1, but do they deserve to be -130 favorites?

Probably. Since 2005, favorites are 11-5 in the first game of the Fall Classic. But the trends aren’t the only reason I’m backing Houston.

With Lance McCullers Jr. hurt, Houston will turn to southpaw Framber Valdez. Valdez most recently tossed a gem against the Red Sox, but now gets to face a more vulnerable opponent.

On the season, the Braves have posted the sixth-highest OPS against righties (.762) but the 10th-lowest against lefties (.732). Moreover, Atlanta ranks just 25th in MLB in wRC+ vs. southpaws. Those are stats that don’t bode well for this Game 1.

Meanwhile, the Astros have several bats that are unbelievably hot right now. Including Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve, who I both expect to have a big impact on this series opener.

In the end, I’m going to lay the slight juice with Houston in Game 1. However, I might consider buying back on the Braves to win the series if things go my way tonight.

My pick: Astros ML (-130 at BetMGM)

Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup 

LF Eddie Rosario (L)
1B Freddie Freeman (L)
2B Ozzie Albies (S)
3B Austin Riley (R)
DH Jorge Soler (R)
CF Adam Duvall (R)
RF Joc Pederson (L)
SS Dansby Swanson (R)
C Travis d’Arnaud (R)
P Charlie Morton (R) 

Atlanta Braves Analysis

The Braves have been steady. They’ve been good on offense, their starting pitchers (namely today’s starter Charlie Morton and Max Fried) have taken a step forward, and their relievers have held serve.

But the infield defense has been surprisingly superb. Austin Riley was known as a big boy with a hot bat, but he’s also been making great plays at the hot corner. Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman is snatching up everything in sight:

It’s also worth mentioning: There’s not a single other first baseman in MLB I’d want more than Freeman. He was a total zero in the first two games of the NLCS, then shook it off and immediately got hot. He went 6-for-13 in the final four games with three extra-base hits while also drawing a whopping six walks.

But Freeman isn’t the story of the Braves postseason. That honor belongs to Eddie Rosario, who batted .560 and posted a 1.647 OPS in the NLCS. Rosario has gotten hot with two strikes and has started hitting lefties again.

Rosario’s emergence is a credit, again, to the Braves front office. This is the state of the Braves outfield throughout the 2021 season:

  • Opening Day: LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Christian Pache, RF Ronald Acuña Jr.
  • July 1: LF Abraham Almonte, CF Guillermo Heredia, RF Ehire Adrianza
  • Postseason: LF Eddie Rosario, CF Adam Duvall, RF Joc Pederson

When Acuña went down for the season, the Braves bought in bulk to attempt to replace him. To everyone’s surprise, it worked. The Braves replaced the irreplaceable, and they are in the World Series because of it.

Houston Astros Starting Lineup

2B Jose Altuve (R)
LF Michael Brantley (L)
3B Alex Bregman (R)
DH Yordan Alvarez (L)
SS Carlos Correa (R)
RF Kyle Tucker (L)
1B Yuli Gurriel (R)
CF Chas McCormick (R)
C Martin Maldonado (R)
P Framber Valdez (L) 

Houston Astros Analysis

Unlike for Atlanta, it isn’t a big surprise to see Houston in this spot. This is the most talented lineup in baseball, and the Astros deserve to be here because of it.

This season, the Astros led the league in average (.317), xBA (.259), OBP (.339), and wRC+ (116). However, instead of slugging the ball like Toronto or Boston does, the Astros lineup dominates through discipline.

Houston struck out at the lowest rate in the league this year (19.4%) while finishing 10th in walk rate (9.0%). The Astros paced MLB in both zone contact rate (85.3%) and chase contact rate (62.2%), so they had the lowest Whiff rate (21%) as a result.

Every member of the Astros lineup is smart with excellent bat-to-ball skills, and it’s incredibly hard to pitch against them as a result. Plus, given their proclivity for avoiding strikeouts, Houston can kill you in high-leverage situations – the Astros scored the most runs in the league with runners in scoring position this season (630).

Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros Daily Fantasy Corner

Speaking of the Houston bats, I love Jose Altuve in this game.

Lifetime against Morton, Altuve is 6-for-19 (.316) with three extra-base hits. However, like most Astro batters, Altuve’s remained very disciplined in those ABs, only whiffing 4.8% of the time.

Moreover, Altuve’s made solid contact with Morton in the past. Altuve’s posted a .634 xSLG in his opportunities against Atlanta’s right-hander, and his 13.1-degree average launch angle shows he’s avoided ground balls against the aptly nicknamed “Ground Chuck”.

In the other dugout, I’d look at Adam Duvall. He should be undervalued in DFS markets, and historically has had success against southpaws. Plus, his National League RBI title this season proves he has a lot of upside.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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