The 2023 World Series got started with a bang on Friday night, with the Texas Rangers stealing Game 1 from the Arizona Diamondbacks thanks to dramatic late homers from Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia. What will Game 2 have in store, as Arizona looks to once again snatch home-field advantage while Texas looks to head to the desert with an 0-2 lead? We’ll find out at 8:03 p.m. ET tonight. We know it’ll be another great pitching matchup, though, as the D-backs give the ball to Merrill Kelly (12-8, 3.29 ERA) while the red-hot Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20) goes for the Rangers.
Texas enters as -142 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Arizona as +120. The run total is set at 8.5.
Diamondbacks vs. Rangers World Series Game 2 picks: Saturday, Oct. 28
Out: SP/RP Tommy Henry (elbow)
Merrill Kelly vs. Jordan Montgomery
Arizona has yet to get Zac Gallen going, but its other ace has been as good as advertised all postseason long. Kelly began October with 6.1 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS, and he hasn’t really slowed down since: The righty allowed four runs on three hits (all homers) and three walks in 5.2 innings in Game 2 of the NLCS — not too shabby, considering how scorching Philly’s offense was at the time — then came back and struck out eight while allowing just one run in an elimination Game 6 at Citizens Bank Park. Lest you think this is just some fluky hot streak, think again. Kelly was arguably the most underappreciated pitcher in baseball in the regular season with 10 of his 14 starts in the second half involving two or fewer runs allowed. He doesn’t light up radar guns, but he boasts among the better changeups in the game, and he’ll keep nibbling and nibbling and dare you not to expand the strike zone.
On the other side will be Montgomery, who’s also been throwing the ball extremely well of late. The lefty was a rock in the Rangers’ rotation after being acquired at the trade deadline, with a quality start in eight of 11 outings across August and September — including eight four-hit innings against these same D-backs on Aug. 21. He hasn’t slowed down in the postseason, either: Montgomery firing seven shutout innings in a win over the Rays in Game 1 of the Rangers’ Wild Card series, then he allowed a combined two runs over 12 innings in two starts against the Astros in the ALCS, winning Game 1 and only missing out on the victory in Game 5 thanks to Jose Altuve’s ninth-inning heroics. (As if that wasn’t enough, he also appeared in relief to help Texas win Game 7, bridging the gap between Max Scherzer and the bullpen with 2.1 scoreless frames.) That’s a lot of usage, and it remains to be seen whether at some point this deep postseason run will start to take its toll on Montgomery. He’s in full command of his arsenal right now, though, with a fastball, change and curveball that he can throw any time, to any batter, in any location.
D-backs catcher Gabriel Moreno went 0-for-5 against Nathan Eovaldi and Co. in Game 1, but I’m betting on a bounce-back effort on Saturday night. A former top prospect and the main return in the Daulton Varsho trade this past winter, Moreno struggled for much of the regular season but really came on down the stretch, hitting .313/.383/.511 in the second half. That trend has continued in October, with three homers and a .766 OPS that’s prompted Torey Lovullo to move him up to the third spot behind Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte — the prime RBI spot in this Arizona lineup. Moreno enters Game 2 a lifetime 4-for-7 with a home run against Montgomery, and he’s hit a scorching .352/.371/.528 against lefties on the year. Given those trends, and with Carroll and Marte getting on base and running wild in front of him, he’s an excellent bet to drive in at least one run tonight.
Pick: Gabriel Moreno over 0.5 RBI (+185)
While I like Moreno’s RBI prop, I’m still expecting a relatively low-scoring affair in Game 2. We took the under at this same number on Friday night, and seemed destined to cash a 5-3 final until Seager and Garcia blow things up at the last moment. This pitching matchup is even better than Game 1’s, though — Kelly has been much better than Gallen of late — and I think both offenses will have a tough time putting up crooked numbers here. Kelly is pitching with a ton of confidence right now, while Montgomery dominated Arizona the last time he saw them.
Pick: Under 8.5
There’s always the risk of a hangover after such a tough loss, but if anyone knows how to bounce back in this spot it’s Arizona — who was left for dead at two different points in the NLCS only to immediately pick themselves up off the deck. Really, though, this is more about expected value than anything else: Kelly and this bullpen have been nails all month, and they figure to once again keep things close heading into the late innings. This feels far more like a coin flip than this line would suggest, so give me the team with plus odds (and the team that was two outs from a win in Game 1, proof positive that they can be more than competitive in this series).
Pick: Diamondbacks +120