The 2023 MLB season could come to a close on Wednesday night, as the Texas Rangers’ 11-7 win in Game 4 has them on the doorstep of what would be the first World Series title in franchise history. Now an Arizona Diamondbacks team that’s defied the odds all October long will look to live to see another day, and they’ll send ace Zac Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA) to the mound to do it. Texas, meanwhile, gives the ball to Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63), a man with plenty of experience coming up big in October — both this year and in years prior. First pitch of this pivotal Game 5 from Chase Field is set for 8:03 p.m. ET.
This one is nearly a pick ‘em on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Rangers the narrow -115 favorites and Arizona at -105. The run total is set at 8.5.
Rangers vs. Diamondbacks World Series Game 5 picks: Wednesday, Nov. 1
Out: OF Adolis Garcia (oblique), SP Max Scherzer (back)
Out: SP/RP Tommy Henry (elbow)
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Zac Gallen
Eovaldi’s postseason renaissance ran aground a bit in Game 1, as the D-backs touched him up for five runs on six hits over 4.2 innings — by far his worst start of these playoffs so far, and the only time he was unable to put up a quality start. Still, considering how great he’s been all October — and his considerable history in big games and in the World Series — it’s hard to say that the Rangers would rather have anyone else on the mound in this spot. Eovaldi also struck out eight in that Game 1 start, suggesting that his stuff remains as good as ever; his splitter caught far more of the zone than we’re used to seeing, and that’ll be something to watch early in Game 5.
Gallen, meanwhile, is still looking for his signature moment after middling results so far this postseason. He did enough to put Arizona in position to win in Game 1, but he was far from sharp, allowing three runs on four hits and four walks over five innings of work. On the heels of an ugly NLCS against the Phillies (nine runs and five homers over 11 innings), it raises some questions about whether the righty can be counted on against the best offenses in the biggest spots. Still, this was among the most consistent starters in the league in the regular season — fifth in all of baseball with 20 quality starts, including a dominant effort against these Rangers in August — and Torey Lovullo will have all of his best relievers rested and ready at a moment’s notice.
For as poor as Eovaldi’s stat line looked in Game 1, he did strike out eight batters, and he’s fanned at least five in four of his five starts this postseason. This is also a question of longevity: Eovaldi has pitched at least six innings in four of those five outings, and he should get a pretty long leash from Bruce Bochy again — he’s by far the Rangers’ best option given the state of their bullpen outside of Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc. If Eovaldi gets five innings tonight, that should be more than enough for him to hit this over.
Pick: Nathan Eovaldi over 4.5 strikeouts (+105)
The first matchup between these two pitchers ended in a 6-5 final, and while that’s a bit misleading — Texas needed three late runs and extra-innings to hit 11 total runs — I’m still taking the over here tonight. Eovaldi and Gallen have looked a bit more vulnerable of late, and both of these bullpens (but especially Texas) have left something to be desired. In a must-win spot, I think the D-backs will bust out the bats early, and it’s hard to count on anyone holding this Rangers lineup totally in check over a full game.
Pick: Over 8.5
The D-backs have been impossible to kill all October long, and I think they keep their season alive here — I still have lots of questions about the Rangers bullpen, and Arizona has shown that they know how to hit Eovaldi. Arizona should come out with their hair on fire in this spot, and if they can get a couple runs early, that’ll go a long way.
Pick: Diamondbacks -105