I had three MLB Series Picks conclude last week before the weekend hit as I was off on vacation for the last few days. With that said, it was another profitable week with these picks despite losing one in which I laid more juice than usual.
The first winning pick that concluded was between the Braves and Nationals, and the result was a winner. After dropping the series opener, the Braves came back to win the final two games of the series to notch us a win at nice +100 odds. It didn’t come easy, however, as the series finale took 10 innings to decide, but with a run in the top of the 10th and a rare save for right-hander Josh Tomlin, the Braves got out of Washington with a series win and some more breathing room in the race for the NL East title.
Our loss last week came in regrettable fashion as my pick of the Royals to win their three-game set over the Blue Jays at -140 odds didn’t pan out. In fact, Toronto swept the Royals and the first two games they won were in blowout fashion, making that pick look rather silly.
However, I bounced back later in the week with the Cardinals taking two of three from the Rival Cubs. The two clubs split the first two games of the series before the Cardinals blew out the Cubs in the finale behind seven shutout innings from Jack Flaherty and a four-run sixth inning that chased Cubs starter Jon Lester.
If you bet $100 on all three of last week’s picks, you notched a profit of $60. Not huge, but a profit is a profit as we continue to make money on these picks.
With another profitable week behind us, let’s move on to the first of two picks beginning Monday, this one in the form of the White Sox and Tigers in an AL Central battle from Comerica Park in Detroit.
Let’s have a look at the odds for this four-game set, courtesy of MyBookie.
White Sox vs. Tigers MLB Series Odds
Now let’s take a quick look at the probable pitching matchups for the series, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Monday: Giolito (CWS) vs. Turnbull (DET)
- Tuesday: Cease (CWS) vs. Norris (DET) / Santiago (CWS) vs. VerHagen (DET)
- Wednesday: Nova (CWS) vs. Alexander (DET)
Finally, let’s break down these pitching matchups in greater detail before getting into the offenses, bullpens and my final pick!
Monday: Lucas Giolito (11-5, 3.39 ERA) vs. Spencer Turnbull (3-9, 3.65 ERA)
Lucas Giolito’s breakout season has hit some rough patches of late, but he’s still enjoying one heck of a season.
On top of the 3.39 ERA, Giolito owns a 3.43 FIP, 3.98 xFIP and a 10.83 K/9 clip after punching out just 6.49 batters per nine innings in the 2018 season.
Giolito has been brown to the blowup of late as he has allowed at least six runs in three of his last eight starts including seven runs two starts against against the Twins in which he yielded four home runs.
However, Giolito bounced back with seven innings of one-run ball with nine punchouts against the Mets his last time out, marking the second time he’s went at least 6.2 innings while allowing one run across his last three starts.
Giolito has yet to face the Tigers this season.
Turnbull makes his return from the IL for Monday night’s season opener as he looks to continue a strong rookie season despite all the negativity surrounding his club.
Entering Monday’s outing, Turnbull sports a 3.65 ERA, 4.05 FIP and a 4.72 xFIP to go along with a 8.03 K/9 and 3.47 BB/9 clip. Turnbuill has been able to limit the long ball as he owns a 0.82 HR/9 clip on the season on the back of a healthy 49% ground-ball rate. Turnbull has allowed a home run on just 9.7% of fly-balls allowed, but he has posted tiny HR/FB rates as well as big ground-ball rates throughout his minor league career, and that hasn’t changed in his first full season in the big leagues.
Turnbull’s home/road splits are rather similar, but most numbers point to him pitching better at Comerica Park. He owns a 4.09 ERA at home compared to 3.29 on the road, but he also owns a 3.72 FIP, 4.25 xFIP, 9.61 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 at home, all of which are improvements on the same figures on the road.
Not a single player on the current White Sox roster has registered a plate appearance against Turnbull.
Turnbull’s season has gone very well to this point, but so has Giolito’s as he’s easily been the more dominant pitcher of the two and he’ll get the advantage as a result.
Advantage: White Sox
Tuesday (Game 1): Dylan Cease (1-4, 6.43 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (3-8, 4.67 ERA)
Cease, a highly-touted pitching prospect, will make his sixth MLB start on Tuesday afternoon is what is a makeup game from a rained out affair back in late April.
His results haven’t been overly impressive to this point with a 6.43 ERA, 5.22 FIP and 4.93 xFIP to go along with a high 4.50 BB/9 clip and elevated 1.61 HR/9 rate as well.
However, Cease managed to go seven innings in his last start, albeit while allowing four earned runs, and struck out six against a pair of walks.
The young right-hander has allowed at least three runs in all five starts of his career to this point, including three earned runs over five innings with four walks in his MLB debut against these Tigers back on July 3rd in Chicago.
Prior to his big league promotion, Cease posted a 4.48 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, 9.61 K/9, 4.21 BB/9 and a tiny 0.53 HR/9 rate across 15 starts at the Triple-A level. He finished the 2018 season in Double-A where he impressed to a 1.72 ERA and a massiv3 13.41 K/9 across 10 starts.
Cease has posted a 6.55 ERA across two road starts on the season against the Royals and Rays.
Norris continues to battle his consistency again this season, but he’s been very good of late.
Over his last three starts, Norris has pitched to a 1.79 ERA in starts against the Blue Jays, Mariners and Angels.
He was, however, rocked for six earned runs in just five innings in a loss against these White Sox in Chicago on July 3rd.
This actually marks the fourth start of Norris’ season against Chicago, the best of which came at home. In two road starts against the White Sox, Norris owns an 8.10 ERA across 10 innings of work. However, he hurled five shutout innings in his first start of the season against Chicago back on April 21st at Comerica Park.
Norris’ home/road splits are fairly even, but it’s worth noting that his command has been excellent at home with a 1.85 BB/9 clip. His command has actually shown great improvement in 2019 with an overall 2.34 BB/9 rate compared to his 3.15 career mark and 3.86 mark he posted in an injury-plagued 2018 season. He continues to struggle with the long ball, however, with a 1.45 HR/9 rate on the season and a 1.33 mark for his career.
Norris has battled inconsistency but he’s been very good of late. To this point in his young career, Cease hasn’t been able to prevent runs from crossing the plate and combined with his high walk rate, the advantage here goes to Norris.
Tuesday (Game 2): Hector Santiago (1-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Drew VerHagen (1-2, 11.66 ERA)
Despite this series boasting a couple of the league’s worst offenses, there could be some runs scored in this one.
The White Sox will run out left-hander Hector Santiago who is on his third stint with the White Sox after they acquired him from the Mets. He’s only made eight appearances in the big leagues this season – all out of the Mets’ bullpen – but owns that 6.75 ERA in that time, spanning eight frames.
At Triple-A this season, Santiago pitched to a nice 3.35 ERA, but also a 4.99 FIP and 5.62 xFIP to go along with a 4.81 BB/9 clip that all point towards big-time regression moving forward.
Santiago began the 2019 season with the White Sox Triple-A affiliate and was touched up fora 5.84 ERA, 5.99 FIP and 5.53 xFIP, prompting his release. All seven of his outings in the White Sox system this season came as a starter.
Santiago has actually pitched against these Tigers in two of his eight big league appearances this season and threw a combined three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, two walks and he struck out three.
He is stretched out as a starter as his last appearance on July 31st at Triple-A lasted five innings, although he yielded six runs in that outing.
Things aren’t any prettier for the Tigers’ Drew VerHagen.
A converted reliever needed to eat innings in the fifth spot in the Tigers beleaguered rotation, VerHagen has been touched up at the big league level as per his 11.66 ERA. The 28-year-old also owns a 7.38 FIP and 7.40 xFIP to go along with a massive 9.20 BB/9 rate across two starts, 12 appearances and 14.2 innings at the big league level this season.
He most recently allowed three earned runs in 4.2 innings of work while walking just one against the Angels, but that start came on the heels of allowing six earned runs in four innings at Seattle on July 25th. He owns a 9.88 ERA in his two big league starts as a result.
In 11 starts at Triple-A this season, VerHagen’s results are much better with a 4.42 ERA, 3.90 FIP and 4.74 xFIP to go along with a much-improved 2.21 BB/9 rate. In his defense, he’s been unfortunate to allow a massive .442 BABIP this season despite his 41.8% hard contact against.
At this rate, it’s pretty impossible to identify any club holding the advantage in this matchup considering how bad both have fared at the big league level this season. This one is a wash.
Wednesday: Ivan Nova (6-9, 5.10 ERA) vs. Tyler Alexander (0-2, 4.50 ERA)
It’s been a grind of a season for the veteran Nova, but at least things have been looking up of late.
The right-hander has allowed one earned run or less in each of his last three starts, pitching to a 0.90 ERA in that time. That includes a complete-game over the Miami Marlins in which he allowed one earned run on four hits, zero walks and five strikeouts.
Clearly, he’s rolling.
The numbers on the season are still bad, however. His 5.10 ERA goes along with a 5.22 FIP but also an improved 4.76 xFIP. The problem has been a strikeout rate that’s fallen to 5.85 K/9 as well as a home run rate that’s soared to 1.65 HR/9.
Nova has made one start against the Tigers this season and it wasn’t pretty. He yielded six earned runs across 6.1 innings of work on 11 hits. Interestingly, he allowed no home runs or walks in that one, but was singled to death with those 11 base knocks.
There’s not enough in his home/road splits that will change anything for this outing on Wednesday.
Tyler Alexander will make his fifth career big league start on Wednesday, and so far he’s done a nice job as a fill-in arm to eat some innings.
The 25-year-old enters this one sporting that 4.50 ERA, but also a 3.76 FIP and 4.22 xFIP. He’s striking out just 7.36 batters per nine in the big leagues this season – and his minor league strikeout numbers suggest there won’t be any improvement in that area – but his command has been downright elite with a minuscule 0.82 BB/9 clip in 22 big league innings to this point. He’s never posted a BB/9 rate over 1.91 in any of his minor league stops, so we can continue to expect quality command from the left-hander.
Like with Cease, Alexander’s big league debut came in this matchup as he pitched five innings of two-run ball with zero walks and four strikeouts. He did allow two home runs in that outing, however.
Alexander’s lone home start this season was brilliant as he pitched seven innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and walking just one in a no-decision against the Blue Jays on July 21st.
Nova has been prone to the blowup this season, including in his lone start against the Tigers, but he’s been lights out of late. On the other hand, Alexander has fared well to this point, pitched well against the White Sox already and was excellent in his lone start at Comerica Park this season. I’m not sure there’s an advantage to be had either way in this one.
White Sox vs. Tigers MLB Series Pick
White Sox (-120)
To be quite honest, this pick has very little to do with the pitching matchups and more to do with bullpens, offenses, and reality.
The reality is the Tigers are the worst team in baseball this season and sport a dismal 13-36 record at home this season. They have just two wins over their last 10 games and were swept in three games by the Rangers over the weekend.
The Tigers actually won a series in Los Angeles late last week by taking two of three from the Angels, however that was their first series win since May 27-29 when they took two of three from the next-worst team in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles.
They’re 3-16 over their last 19 games and 32-75 on the season. This is a historically bad baseball team.
As mentioned earlier, neither offense is any good, but the White Sox hold a small advantage here as well with their .299 wOBA ranking 27th while the Tigers own a .286 mark, good for 29th.
The White Sox also have a huge advantage when it comes to the bullpens. Their solid 4.27 bullpen ERA ranks them 12th in baseball while the Tigers’ 5.01 mark ranks them 27th. Furthermore, the Tigers’ ‘pen ranks 29th with a 5.23 FIP, 27th with a 5.02 xFIP and 25th with a -0.1 WAR from that group.
Regardless of what Turnbull does in the series opener, I expect Giolito to dominate this horrid Tigers lineup and earn the victory. Norris could get the Tigers even in game one of the Tuesday double-header, however he usually don’t pitch deep, meaning the terrible Tigers bullpen would need to shut things down if he was able to keep the White Sox at bay. The second leg of that double-header will feature a taxed Tigers bullpen anyway, so I like the White Sox there as well.
Finally, the White Sox will have their hottest pitcher going in the series finale on Wednesday in the veteran Ivan Nova.
Simply put, the Tigers are so bad that we could almost close our eyes and bet on the White Sox here since Detroit has two series wins since the end of May and just one against a relevant team.
As a result, give me the White Sox on the road at solid -120 odds to take at least three of four from the lowly Tigers.