We have reached the most significant and final series of the 2023 MLB season, as the Fall Classic is set to begin in Texas tonight. The Rangers and Diamondbacks are coming off game seven victories in the Championship Series, setting up the potential for even more drama during this series. In a pitching matchup featuring Zac Gallen and Nathan Eovaldi, I’ll break down why Eovaldi is the right pitcher to back through the first five innings.
It’s crazy to say that a team getting home-field advantage in game one of the World Series may not be in their favor, but it feels that way with the Texas Rangers. Of course, it’s great to start a series with your fans behind you, but the Rangers are coming off an ALCS in which they picked up all four of their wins on the road.
In road games this postseason, Texas is hitting .273 with a .839 OPS, and their hottest hitter at the moment, Adolis Garica, has hit all four of his home runs on the road. When playing at home, the Rangers are 1-3 during this playoff run, hitting .248 with a .792 OPS. Now, the good news is that their lone home win this postseason came with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, and the postseason legend is back on the mound again tonight.
Across four starts up to this point, Eovaldi is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings of work. The right-hander has 28 strikeouts as opposed to four walks, and opponents have managed a .217 batting average and a .289 slugging percentage off him.
Tonight, Eovaldi will face a Diamondbacks team that has been led by Ketel Marte, who enters this series hitting .358 this postseason. Corbin Carroll is another guy who will start this series with a ton of momentum after he went 4-8 with two RBIs and two stolen bases in games six and seven of the NLCS.
Arizona will have their ace on the mound, Zac Gallen, but he has not pitched like an ace over his last two starts. In 11 innings against the Phillies, Gallen allowed nine earned runs on 14 hits, giving him a 5.24 ERA for this World Series run.
For the first time since 2011, the Rangers will have World Series patches on their jerseys, and for game one of the series, their F5 run-line of (-.5) is priced at (-110), and I’ll be backing them for my play. It’s hard to argue for anyone to bet against Nathan Eovaldi in the postseason. The right-hander has proved time and time again that he built for moments like these.
Not only does Eovaldi have a 2.42 ERA this postseason, but he also has a 2.68 FIP, which tells me there is no negative regression in his future. Only three hitters in the Diamondbacks lineup have recorded at-bats against Eovaldi, so the six other hitters will see Eovaldi’s fastball with above-average horizontal break and his splitter with above-average vertical break for the first time tonight.
As for Zac Gallen, his 5.24 ERA through four starts is already not ideal, but the fact that his FIP is at 6.93 makes me think his struggles could continue tonight. Gallen has allowed 24 hits in his 22.1 innings, and six of those hits went for home runs. Even one mistake leading to another home run tonight could be the difference in the lead for the first five innings with the way Eovaldi has thrown.
Texas Rangers F5 (-.5)(-110) on BetRivers