After an exciting ALCS and NLCS, the World Series begins on Tuesday night. As a result of the American League winning the All-Star Game, the Houston Astros will host the Atlanta Braves.
The Astros made the playoffs by reclaiming the AL West title. After winning their division, they easily dispatched the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS 3-1. In the ALCS, Houston had a tougher time against the Boston Red Sox, but rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the hard-fought series 4-2.
While Houston was a World Series contender throughout the season, the Atlanta Braves had a more fortuitous path to making the playoffs, let alone the World Series.
On June 16, the Braves were 30-35 and trailed the first place New York Mets by eight games in the NL East standings. Then on July 10, with Atlanta sitting at 44-44 and still 4.5 games out of first place, star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
Despite all of this adversity, Atlanta persevered and went on to win the NL East. In the playoffs, the underdog Braves beat the Brewers in the NLDS and then knocked off the Dodgers as ever bigger underdogs in the NLCS. In both series, my model recommended bets on the Braves to win.
Below I go over my model’s probabilities in all potential World Series games, and then I cover what the prices should be on World Series futures.
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Braves vs. Astros World Series Game Projections
World Series Game 1: Atlanta at Houston
Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA) vs. Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA)
World Series Game 1 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 51.6%
World Series Game 1 Pick: Braves if +110 or better, Astros if +102 or better
- Read our full 2021 World Series Game 1 Predictions & Best Bets.
World Series Game 2: Atlanta at Houston
Max Fried (14-7, 3.04 ERA) vs. Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA)
World Series Game 2 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 53.8%
World Series Game 2 Pick: Braves if +126 or better, Astros if -107 or better
- Read our full 2021 World Series Game 2 Predictions & Best Bets.
World Series Game 3: Houston at Atlanta
Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.62 ERA) vs. Ian Anderson (9-5, 3.58 ERA)
World Series Game 3 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Braves 53.6%
World Series Game 3 Pick: Astros if +125 or better, Braves if -106 or better
World Series Game 4: Houston at Atlanta
Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA)
World Series Game 4 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Braves 54.8%
World Series Game 4 Pick: Astros if +132 or better, Braves if -112 or better
World Series Game 5: Houston at Atlanta (If Necessary)
Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA) vs. Max Fried (14-7, 3.04 ERA)
World Series Game 5 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Braves 52.7%
World Series Game 5 Pick: Astros if +121 or better, Braves if -103 or better
World Series Game 6: Atlanta at Houston (If Necessary)
Ian Anderson (9-5, 3.58 ERA) vs. Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.62 ERA)
World Series Game 6 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 52.9%
World Series Game 6 Pick: Braves if +122 or better, Astros if -104 or better
World Series Game 7: Atlanta at Houston (If Necessary)
Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA) vs. Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA)
World Series Game 7 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 51.6%
World Series Game 7 Pick: Braves if +110 or better, Astros if +102 or better
2021 World Series Pitching Preview
In terms of starting pitching, the Braves have a slight edge in this series. However, despite that advantage, Atlanta is only favored in its three home games while Houston is favored in all four of its potential home games.
The Astros’ rotation suffered a setback when number one starter Lance McCullers Jr. left Game 4 of the ALDS against the White Sox with forearm discomfort. While it was rumored that McCullers might be available for the World Series, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that Houston will be without its ace once again.
As a result, the Astros must rely on a three-man rotation of Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy. While Valdez, Garcia, and Urquidy have shown themselves to be reliable, they are not nearly talented enough to make the Astros heavy favorites in any one game. Houston could call upon Zack Greinke to start in Game 4, but based on his poor performance this season, manager Dusty Baker might rather eat undercooked chicken that has been soaked in arsenic than pitch him for more than three innings.
Like the Astros, the Braves also had a vulnerable starting pitching rotation during the regular season, but they have benefited from a more refined rotation in the playoffs. Led by Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson, Atlanta was able to beat Los Angeles 4-2 in the NLCS despite being an underdog in every game.
While Morton only pitched in Game 3 of the NLCS, I believe that the Braves will use him in Game 1, Game 4, and a potential Game 7 if required. During the regular season, Morton boasted a 14-6 record with a 3.34 ERA, and a 3.31 xFIP.
The issue for Atlanta is going to be how long Morton, Fried, and Anderson can pitch as the bullpen has not been a strength. During the regular season, Braves relievers had a 4.36 xFIP, which ranked in the lower half of the league. However, during the postseason the Atlanta bullpen has a 5-1 record with a 3.56 ERA. If those relievers can continue to outperform expectations, then the Braves should win the World Series.
While both teams have vulnerable starting rotations, their lineups are plenty capable of making up for it. During the regular season, the Braves averaged 4.86 runs per game, second most in the National League, while the Astros led the Majors with 5.41 runs per game.
With 1B Freddie Freeman, 3B Austin Riley, and 2B Ozzie Albies, the Braves lineup could potentially cause problems for the Astros pitching staff. Additionally, OF Joc Pederson is a dangerous weapon and could see a larger role as a pinch hitter and DH in away games. The only issue for the Braves is that they have been without arguably their best hitter in Ronald Acuna Jr. since early July. However, the Braves have shockingly played their best baseball this season without him.
While the Braves lineup is good, the Astros have an even better lineup. According to my model, every Astros position player is above-average offensively outside of OF Chas McCormick and C Jason Castro. With 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, OF Kyle Tucker, and SS Carlos Correa leading the way, there is no way for Atlanta to pitch around Houston.
Braves vs. Astros World Series Futures Bets
Braves vs. Astros World Series Winner Bets
Best Bet: Atlanta Braves to Win World Series (+130) at Caesars (would bet up to +115)
Wager: 2 Units
Unsurprisingly, my model likes the Braves to win the World Series as +130 underdogs. To me, this is not a shocker as I liked the Braves in the NLDS and NLCS and disliked the Astros in the ALDS and ALCS.
My model has the home team favored in all seven potential games. Because the Houston had a better regular season record than Atlanta, Houston has home-field advantage. However, even though the Astros should win the World Series, it is a much more competitive matchup than the odds imply.
After Atlanta won the NLCS on Saturday night, the x-factor for the World Series was if Lance McCullers Jr. would be added to Houston’s World Series roster. However, when it was reported on Sunday that he would miss the World Series, the odds stayed stagnant.
As a result, I have updated my unit recommendation on the Braves winning the World Series from one unit to two units if the odds stay at +130.
Kevin Davis Series Winner Model Projection: Braves 50.4%
Thanks for reading our 2021 World Series Predictions! For more MLB betting tips, check out our 2021 World Series MVP Predictions.