MLB Odds and Predictions: Tigers at White Sox Series Picks
by Alan Matthews - 4/12/2012
Yes, I know there may be better series than the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox this weekend. There’s the four-game set between the Tampa Bay Rays and the desperate 1-5 Red Sox that concludes with the annual morning Patriot’s Day start on Monday that coincides with the Boston Marathon. And you also have the Los Angeles Angels visiting the New York Yankees for three games – those were the two preseason American League favorites, although they have slipped slightly behind Detroit for the AL pennant now.
But there will be plenty of chances to preview the Yankees and/or Red Sox all season (like next weekend when they face off for the first time). So when there’s a solid option outside of the Northeast corridor superpowers, I will jump on it. And thus you have Tigers-White Sox.
Tigers at White Sox Betting Story Lines
It’s way early, but the Tigers do look like potentially the class of baseball so far. Justin Verlander has been his unhittable self – although he did suffer a loss Wednesday when Jim Leyland left him in for the ninth inning against Tampa Bay and the Rays rallied on his 104th pitch. Miguel Cabrera is probably your early AL MVP, Prince Fielder has been as good as expected and Austin Jackson is having a huge start to the year. But this will be the Tigers’ first trip on the road, so maybe this will be a barometer. And this will be the first series in which they won’t have Verlander available (which I’m sure the White Sox are quite happy about).
The White Sox (3-2) might be better than people expected. Most ‘over/under’ wins totals had the Sox in the low 70s, but so far they look like the second-best team in the AL Central – although that’s not saying much since the Twins and Indians have looked mostly awful. That Chicago won three of five combined in Texas and Cleveland (one Tribe game rained out) is a terrific start for rookie manager Robin Ventura. The former Sox all-star third baseman should get a nice ovation Friday in his first game of the year in the Windy City.
The biggest question mark on the Sox heading into the season, other than Ventura, was at closer. But Hector Santiago is 2-for-2 in save opportunities and it’s clearly his job for now. The bullpen as a whole has been a huge strength as Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Addison Crain have yet to allow an earned run in eight innings ahead of Santiago.
The offense hasn’t been great yet for Chicago – the Sox had only 10 runs in their first four games before breaking out for 10 on Wednesday against Tribe ace Justin Masterson (and relievers). Five White Sox starters – Adam Dunn, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Alex Rios and Brent Morel – are hitting .222 or lower and have struck out a combined 25 times with only five RBI. I’m still not sure why opposing managers pitch to Paul Konerko, who leads the team by hitting .450 and with an OPS of 1.100.
The Tigers dominated this series last year, winning 13 of 18 games and outscoring the Sox 111-62.
Tigers at White Sox Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: Tigers RHP Max Scherzer (0-0, 23.62) vs. White Sox RHP Jake Peavy (0-0, 4.50) – Scherzer was flat-out lousy in his first start, allowing seven runs on eight hits in just 2.2 innings against Boston, but the Tigers rallied to win a wild game and get him off the hook. Scherzer held the White Sox to just four runs over 29 innings last year but was only 2-2 against them. Peavy settled down after a rough first few innings and held Texas to three runs on eight hits in his first start. Peavy says he is fully healthy for the first time in a White Sox uniform. He started twice vs. Detroit in 2011 and was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA.
Saturday: Tigers LHP Adam Wilk (first start) vs. White Sox RHP Gavin Floyd (0-1, 6.35) – Wilk replaces No. 2 starter Doug Fister, who was put on the DL after his first start. Wilk was one of the early candidates for a rotation spot but was hit hard in Florida and was assigned to Triple-A Toledo. There he threw five scoreless innings on one hit with six strikeouts in his season debut for the Mud Hens. This is his first big-league start. Floyd was hit hard in his first start by Texas, allowing five runs – three homers – in 5.2 innings. He was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts vs. Detroit a year ago.
Sunday: Tigers RHP Rick Porcello (0-0, 2.57) vs. White Sox LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 1.35) – Porcello has No. 1 stuff if he can harness his control. He did in his opener vs. Tampa Bay, allowing just two runs on seven hits in seven innings, walking only one. He was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in one start vs. Chicago last year. Sale was tremendous in his first big-league start Monday, throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Indians, allowing just three hits. His previous 79 big-league appearances were out of the bullpen. The Sox are very high on Sale.
Tigers at White Sox Betting Odds and Trends
Detroit will open around -175 on the series line with Chicago at about +145. The Tigers are -115 with the White Sox at +105 for Game 1, with the total at 8.5, according to MLB odds
Dating to last year, Detroit is 10-1 in its past 11 Friday games. The Tigers are 4-0 in Scherzer’s past four starts against the AL Central. The White Sox closed 2011 losing seven of their final 10 at home. They are 5-2 in Peavy’s past seven starts, but 1-6 in his past seven home starts. Detroit has won four of its past five at U.S. Cellular Field.
MLB Picks: Tigers at White Sox Betting Predictions
Well, not a great start to the baseball season so far. I have gone with the underdogs twice so far: the Yankees in their series at Tampa Bay last weekend and the Marlins at Philadelphia for Wednesday’s game. That’s 0-for-2 (although the Yanks may well have won that series if Mariano Rivera hadn’t shockingly blown Game 1).
Still, I am going with the underdog again here just because of the price. I am looking at the pitching matchups and I like the Sox in all three, although it’s tough to know what to make of Sale yet. But Porcello also isn’t that trustworthy at times.
You have to think the Sox should be able to rough up Wilk in Game 2, so all Chicago has to do is win one other game to take the series. So take the Sox in the series and in Game 1 as they had Thursday off and will be jacked up to play at home for the first time. Meanwhile, the Tigers have to travel (albeit an hour flight) and take the field less than 24 hours after finishing their tough home series with Tampa Bay.
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