Be honest—you didn't expect this World Series.
Not when the Astros fell behind 2-1 in the ALCS to a seemingly unstoppable Red Sox lineup and Xander Bogaerts gave Boston an early lead in Game 4.
And certainly not when the brackets came out and the 88-win Braves, champions of the NL Least... err, East... had to face the Brewers and later the Dodgers.
Yet here we are, Braves-Astros, a clash of former NL West "rivals."
The National League's team of the 1990s faces the American League's team of the past five years. The Astros are looking for their second championship in the last five years, while the Braves are looking for their first since 1995.
Game 1 in Houston features crafty veteran Charlie Morton, the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the Astros' triumph over the Dodgers in 2017, against youngster Framber Valdez.
Here's some advice on how to bet this game from SI's Jennifer Piacenti and Matt Ehalt. Check out the latest odds at SI Sportsbook.
MONEYLINE: ASTROS (-133); BRAVES (+110)
Piacenti: I like Houston on the moneyline.
You can't understate the home-field advantage of Minute Maid park. Framber was dominant in his last start versus the Red Sox, and the Astros know Morton well.
Of course, this could also go the other way, but I like a lefty on the mound for Houston versus Freddie Freeman and Eddie Rosario, who hit righties better.
Plus, the roof will be closed and Minute Maid will be rocking. Yordan Alvarez will be in the lineup and can DH with AL rules in play. Advantage: Astros.
Ehalt: I'm going to take Atlanta, especially with plus-odds.
Houston is the better team, but there's something about these Braves. They simply outplayed two better teams in the Brewers and Dodgers. Those weren't flukey wins.
I like Morton as the veteran here in this spot. He's pitched well this postseason, and I think that continues in a Game 1 victory by the Braves.
Morton also threw 10 2/3 scoreless innings spanning two starts against Houston in the ALCS last year while with Tampa Bay, winning both games.
One concerning stat for Atlanta is it posted just a .732 OPS against southpaws during the regular season, but the Braves didn't struggle against a better southpaw in Julio Urias in the NLCS. Valdez struggled with his command in Game 1 against Boston before rebounding. The Braves can perhaps capitalize on his wildness.
RUN LINE: ASTROS -1.5 (+145); BRAVES +1.5 (-175)
Piacenti: I'm still taking the Astros.
I love the plus-money, and I think they dominate in their first home game. Houston has 65 RBIs to Atlanta's 39 this postseason. The Astros are batting .281, the Braves are hitting .250, and yet just one home run separates them (Houston-13; Atlanta-12).
Ehalt: I don't like the odds at -175, but if I'm betting Atlanta to win straight-up then I'm going to bet them on the run line at +1.5.
I believe that even if the Braves lose, they can keep this one close. Two of Atlanta's three losses this October have come by just one run.
OVER/UNDER: 8.5; UNDER (-118); OVER (+100)
Piacenti: Man, that line is good.
The Astros' bullpen will certainly give up a few runs. I feel like the final will be 5-3, so I will take the under. Minute Maid park is a bit more of a pitcher's park.
Ehalt: The over/under will be fascinating considering these teams' trends.
Houston is 94-71-7 this season on the over/under and has cashed the over in eight of 10 postseason games. Atlanta is 79-83-9 and is 5-5 in October.
Valdez's starts this postseason have featured an average of 10.67 runs being scored per game (13, 9 and 10). Morton's starts are averaging 7.67 runs per game (3, 9 and 11). They're averaging 9.17 runs combined, and have topped 8.5 in all but one start.
I trust these offenses more than I do the pitching in this series, and I think the middle bullpens can be touched up a bit. Valdez has lasted more than five innings just once in three starts, while Morton has yet to record an out in the seventh.
This game being played in Houston deepens Atlanta's lineup and only adds to the offense. I'm going to lean with the trends and take the over.
Check out the latest odds at SI Sportsbook
MONEYLINE AFTER 5 INNINGS: BRAVES (+100), ASTROS (-125)
Piacenti: I'm sticking with the Astros here.
They're on a roll and will be in front of the home crowd. The Astros are a 95-win team with a 51-30 home record, including 4-1 this postseason.
Ehalt: If I lose with the Braves, I'm going down swinging.
I'm more concerned with Atlanta blowing a late lead than I am with Houston jumping on Morton and knocking him out of the game.
I, again, like the plus-odds here.
PROP: TO HIT A HOME RUN
Piacenti: Jose Altuve.
In 20 career at-bats versus Morton, Altuve is batting .316 with 2 home runs.
Twenty-four of Altuve's 31 regular season HR this season came versus right-handed pitching, and 19 happened at home. I love the +500 here, and it feels like Altuve is due for some at-home heroics. Book it. Altuve HR.
Ehalt: Both of these pitchers allowed 0.8 homers per nine during the regular season.
Morton actually served up more long balls to righties than lefties this year, and there are some tempting odds for some of Houston's right-handed hitters.
I like Yuli Gurriel at +600 considering I'm getting a potential better payout than Carlos Correa and Altuve. Morton has already served up two homers in 14 1/3 innings this postseason, and I'd rather take the upside on the payout with Gurriel.
Gurriel is 3-for-8 with a double against Morton in his career.
Atlanta has some potential strong options, but some of the odds are too low to get me to bite. I also want to diversify my bets with the three Atlanta selections.
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