Thursday night will feature a matchup of the AL Central versus the AL West when the Chicago White Sox (22-26) take on the Houston Astros (33-17) at Minute Maid Park. This will be the last of a four-game set between the two teams, a series that has seen the Astros winning the first two before the White Sox took it to the Astros on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s game, the White Sox turned four double plays, a triple play and hit four home runs. The White Sox were able to get to Astros’ starter Gerrit Cole for six runs and didn’t relent with the bullpen, as they ultimately won the game 9-4. In the finale, Lucas Giolito (5-1, 3.35 ERA) will take the ball opposite of Astros rookie Corbin Martin (1-0, 3.86 ERA). First pitch for this contest is scheduled for 8:10 pm ET.
The moneyline for this one features the Chicago White Sox +170 and the Houston Astros -190. The over/under on runs scored is set at 9.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Astros have been one of the best teams in all of baseball. They currently rank third in runs per game (5.43), first in team batting average (.279), first in slugging percentage (.505) and first in on-base percentage (.353). Needless to say, they are a juggernaut of an offense. The White Sox, on the other hand, have struggled to score runs at times, ranking 21st in the majors with 4.26 runs per game.
On the pitching side, the Astros again come out ahead. They rank second in all of baseball in staff earned run average at 3.31. The White Sox, on the other hand, come in at 26th with a 5.06 staff ERA.
White Sox Look For Series Split
At 22-26 and 10 games back of the Minnesota Twins in the division, it is hard to call this a good year for the White Sox. Still, for a team that is obviously in rebuild mode, there have been subtle encouragements. For instance, the play of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson has been a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season.
Moncada is hitting .281/.340/.503 with nine home runs, 30 runs batted in and 32 runs scored. For Anderson, he is hitting .322/.352/.491 with eight home runs, 24 runs batted in, 27 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Even Eloy Jimenez, the super prospect that has gotten his first crack at the majors this year, was able to show his raw power in Wednesday’s win, taking Gerrit Cole out of the park to straightaway center.
Pitching, though, has been the Achilles heel for the White Sox. As a whole, their staff has struggled, but one bright spot has been Thursday’s starter, Lucas Giolito. On the season, he is 5-1 in 8 starts with a 3.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .208 against him.
In 43 innings, Giolito has allowed 32 hits, 16 earned runs, three home runs and has struck out 50 versus 18 walks. In his last outing, a 4-1 win in a rain-shortened five inning game against the Blue Jays, Giolito went five innings, allowing three hits, two walks and one earned run while striking out four. He will look to keep it rolling against a vaunted Astros’ offense.
Astros Looking To Stay Superb At Home
As good as the Astros have been, their home record has truly been something impressive. On the season, they are 18-5 when playing in Minute Maid Park and will look to make it win 19 on Thursday. Part of the reason for their success has been their pitching staff.
For Thursday’s starter, Corbin Martin, he is still trying to get acclimated to the staff and the big leagues. He will be making just his third career start after being pulled up to replace Colin McHugh in the rotation. In two starts, he is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and opponents are hitting .229 against him.
As solid as the starting rotation has been, the best part of the Astros’ pitching is the 1-2 punch at the back end. Ryan Pressly has been otherworldly. In 19 games, he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Yes, you read that right; he has yet to allow a run. In 21 innings, he has allowed 0 earned runs, has a WHIP of 0.43 and opponents are hitting just .127 against him. He also hasn’t allowed a walk while striking out 22. Roberto Osuna, the other half, has been similarly as good with a 0.42 ERA, 0.42 WHIP and opponents are hitting .100 against him. In 21.1 innings, he has allowed one earned run, 19 strikeouts, and two walks.
For the offense, they are currently without George Springer and Jose Altuve, but they keep raking. Alex Bregman (15 home runs), Michael Brantley (.325/.372/.555 with 10 home runs), Carlos Correa (.297/.360/.571 with 11 home runs) and Josh Reddick (.331/.384/.461) have been cruising.
Astros Win The Finale
Even without George Springer and Jose Altuve, the Astros offense is exceptional. Unfortunately for Sox fans, they have also been exceptional against Lucas Giolito in their careers. Michael Brantley is 3 for 6 with two home runs, Josh Reddick is 3 for 7 with a home run, and counting those two, seven Astros players are hitting .286 or better (all but one is hitting .333 or better).
It is worth noting that Lucas Giolito seems like a new pitcher this year, but I still think the bats prevail. Throw in the fact that both Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna are rested and ready to go for this one and it could spell disaster for Chicago. For my money, I am taking Houston despite a moneyline of -190.