The first two World Series games took a handful of unexpected twists.
Jose Urquidy produced the most surprising development of the two games in Houston, as he pitched a gem in Game 2 for the Houston Astros in his second appearance in three weeks.
Atlanta relied on Charlie Morton and Max Fried to get wins in the first two postseason series, but neither pitcher earned a victory in Houston. Morton left Game 1 in the third inning with a broken leg, and Fried conceded six earned runs in five innings in Game 2.
The National League champion turns to Ian Anderson to start Game 3. Anderson turned in a handful of decent outings over the last two seasons, and his success is vital to Atlanta getting back on track in the series.
Atlanta's pitching plans for Games 4 and 5 are unknown with Morton out for the season. If it gets five or six solid innings out of Anderson, it should be in good shape.
That is easier said than done against a Houston lineup that started to wake up its bats in Game 2. Jose Altuve started to emerge from the slump that started in the ALCS, and if his bat stays hot, Houston could jump into the series lead on Friday.
Prop Odds and Projections
Ian Anderson Over 3.5 Strikeouts (+105)
Anderson has 36 strikeouts in 30.2 postseason innings.
He began his postseason career with 17 punchouts against the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins to start the 2020 playoffs.
Anderson's strikeout totals have gotten lower since then, but he has had at least four strikeouts in five of his seven postseason appearances.
Anderson sat down four Los Angeles Dodgers batters on strikes in NLCS Game 6. He lasted four innings in that contest.
On Friday, Anderson faces a Houston lineup that has struck out on 22 occasions so far in the World Series. Atlanta pitchers had 11 strikeouts in Game 2, with six of them coming from Fried.
Altuve's bat came to life in Game 2, and Michael Brantley has been Houston's most consistent hitter, but there are still some flaws across the Astros lineup.
Alex Bregman is 0-for-7 with three strikeouts, while Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez have one hit each.
Anderson's strikeout total can be boosted by the poor swinging Houston bats and the potential of Luis Garcia batting once or twice. If Garcia is not in a situation to bunt, he could be sat down fairly easily with a strikeout.
If Anderson lasts five or six innings, he should find enough deficiencies in the Houston lineup to record at least four strikeouts and go over his prop.
Stat Projection: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 K
Jose Altuve Over 1.5 Total Bases (-110)
If Altuve starts to swing a hot bat, the Astros could end up in a great position to win the Fall Classic.
The leadoff man emerged from an arduous spell at the plate by producing two hits and mashing a home run in the seventh inning off Drew Smyly.
Prior to Wednesday, Altuve was on a 3-for-33 cold streak that started with Game 1 of the ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox.
Altuve had five hits and a home run in the ALDS win over the Chicago White Sox, but his bat was a non-factor in the ALCS.
If Altuve uses his two-hit performance as a catalyst for the rest of the series, the Atlanta pitching staff could be in trouble.
Altuve recorded a hit in six of the seven World Series games in 2019 against the Washington Nationals. He had three multi-hit performances and scored four runs in that series defeat.
Altuve is capable of eclipsing his total base prop in a handful of ways. The simplest would be through an extra-base hit.
The Houston second baseman could also reach with a single and then steal second, or advance on a hit by Brantley or others beneath him in the order.
Altuve may not hit another home run in Game 3, but he should be active on the bases after how well he swung the bat in Game 2.
Stat Projection: 2-for-5, one run, two singles
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.
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