White Sox at Rays Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/6/2013
The White Sox really are stuck in limbo, but it's always been that way playing in the shadow of the more popular Cubs. The Sox usually field a competitive team, just not one quite good enough to make the playoffs (2005 World Series aside). Owner Jerry Reinsdorf will spend, but not quite like a big-market team. And all you need to know about the Sox and their fickle fans is that Reinsdorf told his kids that when he dies they should sell the Sox but keep the Bulls because the latter is the moneymaker.
I mention this because it's really a crossroads season for the team. Chicago is last in the American League Central and only Houston has a worse record in the AL. The fans aren't going to be coming to U.S. Cellular Field. So for the first time in years, the Sox need to realize who they are, bite the bullet and rebuild. No more of this sort-of contender status that former GM Kenny Williams always built. New GM Rick Hahn has some pieces that teams would want. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is definitely one. He's on a pretty good contract for the next couple of years and is probably the top player at his position on the market. Ramirez's power has mysteriously disappeared but he's hitting for a decent average, can steal bases and is very good defensively.
Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton also would be a great pickup for a contender as a set-up man. Just don't ask him to close – that didn't go well when Chicago tried. Everyone mocked Williams when he claimed outfielder Alex Rios off waivers and Toronto just let him go to have the Sox eat his big contract, but that is looking like a smart move now. Rios (.271, 11 homers, 38 RBI entering Friday) is easily the best outfielder on the market and also has a reasonable contract.
However, Chicago's top piece probably was right-handed reliever Jesse Crain. Unfortunately for Chicago, he was put on the disabled list Wednesday with a right shoulder strain. That severely hampers the Sox's chances of getting top value for him, much like when the crosstown Cubs were hurt last year when Matt Garza was injured before the trade deadline. Crain has 38 appearances this season with a 0.74 ERA that leads all American League relievers. He had a franchise-record 29-game scoreless streak this year. The Sox may regret not dealing him sooner.
Joining Crain on the DL on Wednesday was another potential trade piece: first baseman Paul Konerko. Reinsdorf loves the guy, and Williams almost made Konerko a player/manager before hiring Robin Ventura. But with the Sox going nowhere and Konerko a free agent who almost surely won't be re-signed, there's no reason not to deal him. Konerko, who has a back strain, is a 10-5 guy and thus would have to approve any trade. He'd be a great fit for the Yankees with Mark Teixeira out for the season. However, he has had a down season and now this injury hurts his trade value.
It's really been a rough season on the South Side. Saturday is the second of Chicago's three-game series at the Rays. This series kicks off a 10-game home stand for Tampa Bay heading into the All-Star Break and is a great chance for the team to close the gap on AL East-leading Boston because the Twins and Astros follow the Sox to Tropicana Field (the worst stadium in the majors). Anything less than a 7-3 home stand would be a disappointment. Now that David Price is back and pitched well in his return, the Rays could really take off.
White Sox at Rays Betting Story Lines
If you like low-scoring games, then Saturday's matchup is for you as it involves the top two young lefties in the American League in Chicago's Chris Sale and Tampa Bay's Matt Moore.
Sale (5-7, 2.79) is the only White Sox player not available in a deal as the team locked him up long-term this winter. As you can see by his ERA, the Sox aren't scoring for him. Of course, they aren't scoring for anyone, ranking No. 29 in the league in runs. Sale has allowed three earned runs in eight innings in each of his past two starts, striking out a combined 23 batters. Sale has three games with at least 12 strikeouts this year, tied for the most in White Sox history for a season. He hasn't won since May 17 and the Sox have lost five of his past six starts. Sale faced the Rays in the Windy City on April 25, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out seven in a 5-2 victory. No Rays hitter has more than eight career at-bats off the lanky southpaw. Rays star Evan Longoria is hitting .200 with three strikeouts against Sale. Look for Longoria to be the team's designated hitter for quite a while instead of manning third. He's got a foot problem. Also expect Jose Lobaton to start at catcher for Tampa Bay in this one. He's 3-for-4 with a homer in his career off Sale.
Moore (11-3, 3.65) was in the Cy Young conversation until he lost three straight starts to begin June. Since then, he has won three straight starts, allowing just four runs and 10 hits over 19.1 innings. He has struck out 20 over his past two but remains a bit wild with nine walks in that span. Moore leads the AL in walks. He pitched April 27 at the White Sox, allowing a run and three hits while striking out nine in six innings. No White Sox has more than eight at-bats off him. Adam Dunn has two homers in seven at-bats. Dunn is raking entering Friday. In his past 23 games, Dunn is batting .333 (27-for-81) with three doubles, 10 home runs and 26 RBI. He hit a walk off homer Thursday against Baltimore. The Rays will play a huge shift on Dunn when he bats. Perhaps no team uses the shift more than Joe Maddon's club.
White Sox at Rays Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Rays opened at +145 and the Sox -135 with a total of 7. All trends entering Friday: Chicago is 32-44-6 over/under (20-22-1 on road) and 38-44 on the run line. Tampa Bay is 44-35-7 O/U (25-16-2 at home) and 45-41 on the run line.
The Sox are 2-5 in their past seven against a lefty starter. They are 1-10 in their past 11 in Game 2 of a series. Chicago is 0-6 in its past six road games against a lefty starter. It is 2-6 in Sale's past eight against a team with a winning record. Tampa Bay is 4-1 in its past five against a lefty starter. The Rays are 4-1 in Moore's past five starts against teams with a losing record. The under is 6-0 in Chicago's past six Saturday games. The under is 13-3 in Sale's past 16 road starts. The over is 5-0 in Moore's past five starts against teams with a losing record.
White Sox at Rays Betting Prediction
This is the last series of the season between the Rays and Sox, with the clubs splitting four games in Chicago from April 25-28. The finale of that series you may remember as Price (who is scheduled to start Sunday) had words with home plate umpire Tom Hallion, with each calling the other a liar afterward. Both were fined by MLB. The Sox flat-out stink on the road, although Sale can help neutralize that. I still lean Tampa Bay and certainly the under (-130).
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