It’s a potential World Series preview in the interleague series opener Friday night at Chavez Ravine when the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox face the NL West-leading L.A. Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball.
The Sox love interleague play as they are 158-119 all-time, which is the second-best winning percentage in MLB behind the New York Yankees. However, the Sox enter this one having lost back-to-back interleague series vs. Houston and at St. Louis. They’ve now lost their last three series overall and six of their last nine games. The Dodgers haven’t been a good interleague club, going 112-133. They enter having lost two of three at home to the crosstown Angels.
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But the real reason I am previewing this game is because one of the most intriguing pitching matchups of the year is tonight as the White Sox’s Chris Sale, the AL Cy Young favorite, faces 2011 NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Sale and Kershaw might well be the best two lefties in baseball this year. And there’s a total for this game you will rarely see: 5.5 runs (on Bovada).
White Sox at Dodgers Betting Story Lines
It was long thought that Sale was going to be the White Sox’s future closer. He had never started a game in his MLB career but was very good out of the bullpen in 79 career appearances in 2010-11. But Sale convinced General Manager Kenny Williams that he could start – Sale was the Baseball America collegiate pitcher of the year as a starter at Florida Gulf Coast University but slid to No. 13 in the draft because of a funky delivery that scouts thought would lead to injury.
The White Sox wouldn’t be sniffing first place without Sale in the rotation. He is 8-2 with a 2.05 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and .188 opponents’ batting average, all of which lead the American League. Sale is 5-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his past five starts, one of which was a 15-strikeout gem vs. Tampa Bay. Sale has allowed more than two runs just twice all season. He and Jake Peavy are carrying the White Sox rotation with the huge struggles of Gavin Floyd (torched again Thursday) and Philip Humber and the fact that projected ace John Danks is on the DL and just had a setback.
Speaking of Peavy, if he’s not the AL Comeback Player of the Year, then teammate Adam Dunn is. After having one of the worst seasons of any hitter EVER last year, Dunn hit his 22nd homer of the season Thursday (he had 11 all last year). He’s tied with Josh Hamilton for the MLB lead in dingers and is third in the AL with 50 RBI. Dunn is hitting only .227 and still strikes out a ton, but the White Sox are fine with that if he’s hitting bombs. Dunn will have to play left field in this series with no DH and he’s a defensive liability out there. Dunn is 7-for-11 with three homers and two doubles against Kershaw.
Kershaw (5-3, 2.65), meanwhile, was the NL’s Triple Crown pitching winner last year (he tied for the lead in wins) and has been good-but-not-quite-as-great as a year ago. He is pitching of late through plantar fasciitis in his foot. Perhaps that explains why he has allowed at least three runs in each of his past four starts after doing so only once in his first six.
Offensively, the Dodgers remain without early NL MVP favorite Matt Kemp (hamstring), and he’s not coming back any time soon. L.A. just gave Andre Ethier a big new extension and needs him to carry the load with Kemp out. However, he is hitting just .167, albeit with seven RBI, in the past week. Pretty much no Dodger has faced Sale yet.
The White Sox have the fewest road losses in baseball (11), while the Dodgers have the most home wins (22). Chicago took two of three from the Dodgers last season and is 11-4 in the all-time matchup.
White Sox at Dodgers Betting Odds and Trends
The Dodgers opened as -130 favorites on Bovada, with live betting on the game available at the book (on the series line, L.A. is -170 and Chicago +140). The ‘over/under’ is 14-18-1 for White Sox on road and 13-17-3 for L.A. at home.
The White Sox are 8-2 in their past 10 road games. They are 8-1 in their past nine games when allowing at least five runs in the previous game. Chicago is 4-0 in Sale’s past four starts in a series opener. The Dodgers are 4-0 in their past four games after a loss. L.A. is 1-5 in its past six openers of a series. The Dodgers are 7-0 in Kershaw’s past seven home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
MLB Picks: White Sox at Dodgers Betting Predictions
This game could end in less than two hours if both pitchers are dealing like they are capable of. I do think Sale’s total dominance has to end at some point. However, because the Dodgers haven’t seen his funky delivery, he should be dominant the first few times through the lineup at least. And he doesn’t have to deal with Kemp. So I am going with Chicago here but I simply can’t go under 5.5. I think it’s a 4-2 final.
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