The Braves and Astros descend on Minute Maid Park to touch off the first Fall Classic in two years with fans fully packing the stands.
There’s truly no baseball like October baseball. With blazing bats, lights-out pitching, and (inevitably) a few questionable calls, the 2021 MLB Postseason has delivered the kind of action and off-the-field storylines that even casual fans cannot afford to ignore.
And now, there are just two teams remaining: The Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros. And a World Series to decide it all begins tonight.
It’s time for Game 1 at Minute Maid Park.
The NL Champion Atlanta Braves
Regular season record: 88-73 (1st in NL East)
Team payroll: $147,487,625 (12th in MLB)
Highest-earning player: 1B Freddie Freeman ($22,409,375)
Upcoming free agents: Freeman, OF Joc Pederson, OF Eddie Rosario, OF Adam Duvall
Game 1 starter: Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA)
Your breakout star of the postseason so far? Braves summertime acquisition Eddie Rosario. The outfielder posted a .560 average with a 1.647 OPS in six games against the Dodgers to claim NLCS MVP honors.
Not bad for a player whose OPS was under .700 for Cleveland this season before heading over in a trade for Pablo Sandoval while still a member of the injured list.
Charlie Morton toes the rubber for Game 1 after going just five innings in the NLCS, a Game 3 no-decision. He was 14-6 with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.045 WHIP that ranked No. 9 in the league season, his first as a member of the Braves.
Notably, he helped clinch the 2017 Fall Classic for these very same Astros, and made a return trip with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, falling just short against the Dodgers.
The AL Champion Houston Astros
Regular season record: 95-67 (1st in AL West)
Team payroll: $194,472,041 (5th in MLB)
Highest-earning active player: 2B Jose Altuve ($29,000,000)
Upcoming free agents: SP Zack Greinke, SP Justin Verlander, SS Carlos Correa
Game 1 starter: Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA)
These aren’t the same Stros that courted controversy after a cheating scandal that spanned 2017 and ’18 — bringing in a stalwart skipper like Dusty Baker definitely goes a long way there — but big bats propelled them to their third AL pennant in five seasons all the same. ALCS MVP Yordan Alvarez (.522 average, five extra-base hits, 1.408 OPS) led the way in closing out the Boston Red Sox in six games.
Now, they hand the ball to Framber Valdez for Game 1, who posted a team-best 3.14 ERA and 137 ERA+ during the regular season. He has allowed just three earned runs in 10.2 postseason innings, capped off by a stifling display in Game 5 of the Championship Series on the road in Boston.
Missed Dusty Baker’s appearance on the Boardroom “Out of Office” podcast with Rich Kleiman? Listen here:
2021 World Series Betting Odds
To win the World Series:
- Astros: -150
- Braves: +125
To win World Series MVP:
- Jose Altuve: +1000
- Yordan Alvarez: +1000
- Michael Brantley: +1000
- Alex Bregman: +1000
- Freddie Freeman: +1100
- Carlos Correa: +1200
- Max Fried: +1400
- Kyle Tucker: +1400
- Austin Riley: +1600
- Eddie Rosario: +1700
- Framber Valdez: +1900
- Charlie Morton: +2000
- Ozzie Albies: +2000
Total number of games to be played:
- Four: +500
- Five: +290
- Six: +200
- Seven: +210