This will be my second MLB Series Pick of the week as we are waiting on the rubber match between the Mets and Nationals this afternoon to find out the result of our pick of the Mets to win the three-game set.
I like the chances as I had the Mets to win the first game, which they did, and the Nationals to win the second game, which they did. The Mets have a distinctive pitching advantage today with hard-throwing right-hander Zack Wheeler facing the struggling veteran Anibal Sanchez.
I’ll touch on the result further in my MLB Series picks tomorrow.
For now, I have one to deliver on this Thursday night as the Blue Jays and White Sox kick off a four-game set from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Now, there is a push possibility in this four-game sets, and a very distinct one at that. However, I like one of these clubs to win at least three of the four games and what I believe to be valuable odds.
Let’s take a look at those odds before I get into anything else, courtesy of MyBookie.
Blue Jays vs. White Sox MLB Series Odds
Now, let’s take a glance at the probable pitchers for this four-game set, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Thursday: Stroman (TOR) vs. Covey (CWS)
- Friday: Sanchez (TOR) vs. Nova (CWS)
- Saturday: TBD (TOR) vs. Giolito (CWS)
- Sunday: Thornton (TOR) vs. Lopez (CWS)
Let’s break down each of these pitching matchups before getting into the offenses, bullpens and finally my pick!
Thursday: Marcus Stroman (1-6, 3.12 ERA) vs. Dylan Covey (0-2, 5.91 ERA)
Stroman has had some issues getting run support this season as he’s pitched to a 3.12 ERA and 3.16 FIP but has managed to win just one of his seven decisions.
While Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago is a hitter-friendly venue and the wind appears to be blowing out to center Thursday night, Stroman can combat those circumstances by using his elite ground-ball stuff to generate outs.
Stroman owns a 59.8% ground-ball rate for his career and a similar 57.2% mark this season. Such a number has helped him keep the ball in the park to the tune of a 0.79 HR/9 rate in his career while that figure has improved to 0.52 HR/9 mark in the 2019 season.
He’s run into some issues over his last three starts but allowed three earned over 6.1 innings with zero walks and four strikeouts in his most recent outing against this very White Sox offense last week in Toronto.
Covey is once again struggling at the big league level this season and even worse is the fact his peripherals call for further regression from his already-inflated 5.91 ERA.
Along with that sky-high ERA figure, Covey also owns a ghastly 7.41 FIP and 7.76 xFIP – the latter of which is scary as it calls for more home runs than the 1.69 HR/9 rate he is already giving up this season.
Covey is striking out no one with a minuscule 4.22 K/9 rate on the season while his 8.44 BB/9 rate is astronomical – hence the elevated ERA indicators. The fact he’s been able to strand base runners at a rate more than 6% higher than his career rate along with just a .229 BABIP against has helped him keep his ERA well under his unsightly ERA indicators.
This could be a rough one for Covey as the regression is due soon, and the wind blowing out to center could have the Blue Jays offense powering up in this one.
Advantage: Blue Jays
Friday: Aaron Sanchez (3-4, 3.75 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (2-3, 6.29 ERA)
Sanchez has put his injury woes behind him to this point in the 2019 season with a nice 3.75 ERA, but he too should see some regression coming his way as he is also the owner of a 4.75 FIP and 4.71 xFIP while his walk rate of 5.06 BB/9 is going to come back to haunt him in the results column at some point soon.
Given his minor league history and MLB experience, we can see that Sanchez likely isn’t going to generate a ton of strikeouts as he owns a 7.20 K/9 for his career, but this season he’s seen that number jump 8.63 K/9.
He will likely need to generate more ground-balls to have success and get closer to his 53.9% career ground-ball rate to have success against a White Sox offense that certainly has the ability to lift and separate and use the hitter-friendly venue to their advantage.
Nova’s first season in Chicago isn’t going as planned.
While his 4.63 FIP and 4.43 xFIP aren’t great figures, the end result has been a brutal 6.29 ERA for the right-hander. He’s been bitten by a high .365 BABIP against on the season, but Nova doesn’t generate many strikeouts with a 6.29 K/9 on the season and a 6.61 mark for his career. He’s allowing homers at an elevated 1.42 HR/9 rate, a very similar mark to the 1.45 figure he posted in 2018.
He’s either been really good or really bad in his outings. He’s made eight starts on the season and held the opposition to just one earned run in four of those eight, including his most recent outing where he allowed one earned over six innings against these Blue Jays in Toronto last week.
However, he’s also allowed at least five earned runs in each of his other four starts on the season and as many as nine in a single start.
He’s also been terrible in his two home starts this season, allowing 12 earned runs over eight innings including two homers, good for 13.50 ERA and a 1.067 OPS against.
Advantage: Blue Jays
Saturday: TBD vs. Lucas Giolito (4-1, 3.55 ERA)
The Blue Jays are currently a little light on starting pitching now that Clay Buchholz has joined three of his rotation mates on the IL, which is why they traded from Edwin Jackson earlier this week.
However, it’s shaping up to be a bullpen day for the Blue Jays on Saturday, however we will get into their bullpen later on and discuss the White Sox starter Giolito for this one tonight.
After struggling mightily in his first full season in the big leagues last year, Giolito has regained his confidence and the form that made him a top prospect with the Nationals and an eventual trade target for the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade prior to the 2017 season.
Owns a 3.55 ERA, 3.05 FIP and 3.78 xFIP on the season while his strikeout clip has soared all the way to 10.89 K/9 this season. That said, I wouldn’t expect the strikeouts numbers to last given his middling strikeout rates prior to this season – both in the minors and majors.
Still, the White Sox are finally getting the pitcher they thought they were getting in that offseason deal in 2017. He’s keeping the ball in the yard at a 0.71 HR/9 clip, although he would still like to reign in his command with a high 3.79 BB/9 rate on the year, although it’s an improved number from his 4.21 BB/9 career mark.
Giolito dominated the Blue Jays to the tune of seven innings of one-run ball to go along with just four hits, one walk and eight strikeouts just last week.
Advantage: White Sox
Sunday: Trent Thornton (1-4, 4.81 ERA) vs. Reynaldo Lopez (3-4, 5.58 ERA)
Thornton hasn’t been too bad for the Blue Jays in his rookie season and is coming off the first win of his big league career to this point in the Jays’ two-game set in San Francisco earlier in the week.
In said outing, Thornton hurled 5.2 frames of two-run ball, allowing just three hits and striking out seven. However, he walked five in that one too.
His ERA indicators suggest Thornton’s 4.81 ERA is more or less warranted as his 4.84 FIP and 4.28 xFIP might suggest. He’s allowed home runs on 18.6% of his fly-balls, a rather high numbers, but he owns just a 32.2% ground-ball rate to this point. He will need to generate more ground-balls to have success in this venue on Sunday afternoon.
Lopez has been a little Jekyll and Hyde in his season full season in the big leagues.
In his first full season in 2018, his surface 3.91 ERA was solid, but he greatly outpitched his 4.63 FIP and 5.22 xFIP. This season, the regression has surfaced as he owns that 5.58 ERA while his ERA indicators aren’t much kinder to his work as he owns a 5.08 FIP and 5.45 xFIP as well.
At his best, he can generate plenty of strikeouts as he owns a 9.54 K/9 clip on the season, but he has control issues with a 4.14 BB/9 rate on the season and he’s allowing plenty of home runs at a 1.80 HR/9 rate.
The Blue Jays strike out a lot and Lopez has already punched out 14 hitters in a game earlier this season against a similarly weak and strikeout-prone offense in the Detroit Tigers back in late April. He’s allowed just four earned runs over his last two starts and 13.2 innings, but also had just eight strikeouts in that time.
Advantage: Fairly even, slight advantage to White Sox
Blue Jays vs. White Sox MLB Series Pick
Looking at the starting pitching matchups, I really like the Blue Jays in the first two games of this series, especially in Thursday night’s series opener with Stroman, one of the better pitchers in baseball in the early going, going up against a right-hander in Covey who has been bad and should be even worse moving forward.
That said, we need to take into account some other factors as well.
Looking at the offenses, it’s advantage White Sox. Like Toronto, Chicago is a strikeout-prone offense, however, they’ve also been much more productive with a .316 team wOBA on the season, good for 19th, while the Blue Jays own the second-worst offense in baseball with a .280 team wOBA.
The White Sox hit for more power and they are much more dynamic on the basepaths as their 32 steals greatly outweigh the Blue Jays’ nine, which is tied with the Phillies for the fewest stolen bases in the bigs.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk for Stroman and Sanchez along with the rest of the Jays’ staff, however the White Sox are also a bottom-half of the league offense as well, so it’s not like we are dealing with a team like the Astros or Twins who consistently tear the cover off of the baseball.
We also need to check on the bullpens and see how each team is faring in this department.
In this regard, it’s a big-time advantage for Toronto.
The Blue Jays actually enter the four-game set sporting the league’s fifth-best bullpen with an ERA of 3.32. The White Sox are also a solid bullpen as they come in at 12th with a ‘pen ERA of 4.08.
That said, while the Blue Jays’ bullpen FIP regresses to 3.98, the White Sox’s bullpen FIP also regresses to 4.64. As a result, Toronto’s bullpen FIP ranks 11th with the White Sox coming in at 22nd.
The White Sox bullpen is allowing more home runs, walks, and are striking out fewer batters than that of Toronto. In particular, Chicago’s bullpen as produced a 4.71 BB/9 rate, good for 26th in the majors.
With a notable advantage due to starting pitching in the first two games of the series, I can very realistically see the Blue Jays winning the first two of four. Therefore, they would need a big effort from their very good bullpen in game three or either get to Lopez in game four or have Thornton throw a gem to win one more game.
The odds aren’t overly spectacular, but I still have plenty of faith in Toronto to win at least two games in this series considering their huge advantage in Thursday night’s series opener.
As a result, give me the Blue Jays at solid odds to win this four-game set from Chicago.