It’s a Wild Card battle with a title on the line, as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers are set to square off in the 2023 World Series. Game 1 is set for Friday, Sept. 27 from Globe Life Park in Arlington, with first pitch scheduled for 8:03 p.m. ET.
Arizona wasn’t even expected to be playing October baseball at all, and now the Snakes find themselves four games away from one of the unlikeliest championship runs in baseball history. The D-backs won just 84 games in the regular season (run differential: -15), but they rolled over the Brewers in the Wild Card round and the Dodgers in the NLDS before rallying to top the defending NL champion Phillies in a seven-game NLCS. Depth is still a concern for this team, but Brandon Pfaadt’s emergence gives them a much-needed third option in the rotation alongside Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, and Arizona has just found a way to do all the little things right in October — taking the extra base, situational hitting and anything else they need to do to win.
Texas may not be as improbable a story as Arizona — this was the highest-scoring offense in baseball in the regular season, after all — but the Rangers still had to overcome plenty of adversity (and plenty of doubters) to get to this point. They seemed to be trending in the wrong direction entering October, losing Max Scherzer and Jon Gray to injury before losing the AL West title on the season’s final weekend. But Texas swept both the Rays and Orioles, then exacted the ultimate revenge in the ALCS, winning all four games in Houston — including Games 6 and 7 with their backs to the wall — to knock out the in-state rival Astros and punch their ticket to the World Series for the first time since 2011. That lineup remains as dangerous as ever, and if Scherzer can get on track behind Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi — and Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc can continue carrying a sketchy bullpen — they’ll be very tough to beat.
Let’s go over odds to win the series on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Diamondbacks vs. Rangers odds
The Rangers enter as -170 favorites to win this series on the moneyline, with Arizona — surprise, surprise — once again the underdog at +145.
It’s hard to blame the books for installing the D-backs as underdogs for what is now the fourth series in a row. Once again: This team won just 84 games during the regular season — which would be the second-worst of any World Series winner, should Arizona pull another upset — while allowing more runs than it scored. They don’t have a fourth starter, and their lineup lacks both oomph (especially with Christian Walker mired in a miserable slump) and depth. These holes remain real, despite their recent hot streak.
Of course, they’ve gotten to this point for a reason. Brandon Pfaadt is now pitching as well as anyone, giving them a third reliable option behind Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Their bullpen — particularly the top four of Ryan Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald — has been very solid. Arizona isn’t elite in any one particular facet, but their pitching has been good enough to keep things tight, allowing a smart, athletic, aggressive group of players to keep the pressure on and wait for the other team to crack. And, without fail so far this postseason, the other team has.
Will Texas? The question here isn’t “are the Rangers more likely to win this series?” The question is “where does the expected value lie?” And the fact of the matter is that this is far closer to a coin flip than these respective lines would suggest. If I were picking straight-up, I’d probably go with Texas, but -170 simply isn’t offering you enough juice given that there’s a realistic path to the D-backs winning here. Gallen, Kelly, Pfaadt and that bullpen just got done silencing a homer-happy and seemingly superior offense; they can’t do it again in the World Series, especially against a team whose pitching isn’t nearly as fearsome as the Phillies’? It’s not hard to imagine Arizona running back that same playbook, dragging Texas into the small-ball muck and getting to a vulnerable bullpen late.
Texas is a deserving favorite here, but the gap shouldn’t be nearly this wide.
Pick: Diamondbacks +145