Well, folks, we have finally made it. This weekend Major League Baseball will finish up its regular season, as all teams are scheduled to conclude their regular season schedules on Sunday. It has been a wild and crazy ride this year, with the highly condensed schedules and games being canceled for all kinds of reasons, including COVID-19 outbreaks, social unrest, and plain old rain.
A lot of people didn’t think we would ever end up in a spot where we could get an MLB season played, but here we are, about to head into a super-sized playoff, that is sure to be one to be remembered. The playoffs officially kick off on Wednesday, with eight first-round series! All of the first-round series will be the best of three games, and with each game mattering so much, the pressure is going to be on!
— MLB (@MLB) September 24, 2020
Even though we only have four days left of the regular season, there is still a lot on the line in both leagues. Most of the American League postseason teams are set, but the AL West second-place playoff spot is still up for grabs as the Houston Astros are trying to hold off the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels.
In the AL Central, there are still three teams that could take home the division crown as Indians, White Sox, and Twins are all bunched together at the top of the standings. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will check in on that race for the AL Central title, when we head to Cleveland, to break down all of the action between the White Sox and the Indians.
Chicago White Sox (34-22) at Cleveland Indians (32-24)
A week ago, the Chicago White Sox looked like they had the AL Central Division title all but wrapped up as they beat the Minnesota Twins in three out of four games and left that series with a two-game lead in tow. But Chicago has stumbled down the stretch, as they have lost four straight games, and five out of their last six. With this recent skid, the White Sox now trail the Twins by a half-game in the Central Division standings.
Three of those recent losses have come to the Cleveland Indians in this series, and the teams will conclude their regular-season series tonight in game four of this four-game set. While a division title is still a long shot for Cleveland, if they can win today against the White Sox, they will trail the Twins by just two games with three left to play.
Starting for the White Sox tonight is Dallas Keuchel (6-2 2.04 ERA), and for the Indians, it is Zach Plesac (4-2 1.85 ERA). The game total over/under is set at seven and a half runs. The Indians are -125 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 PM PST from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Chicago White Sox
Should we be concerned about this recent power outage for the Chicago White Sox? Chicago was one of the best hitting teams in the league all season long, but during their recent struggles, they just haven’t been able to score runs. The White Sox have lost six out of their last eight games and have averaged just over two runs a game in those six losses.
We have seen some teams that have slowed down a bit in the season’s final week or two, as they already had their division titles locked up, or their playoff spots secured. The Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs are both examples of teams that have clearly taken their foot off the gas lately.
But the White Sox have been in a dog fight for the division title all season long, and if they can’t find a way to win a game or two this weekend, they could fall all the way from the division title to the wild card, which would hurt them a lot in terms of playoff positioning. This likely isn’t the White Sox taking it easy, and that makes these struggles even scarier for Chicago fans.
Dallas Keuchel (6-2 2.04 ERA)
When the Chicago White Sox brought in veteran starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, it was for situations just like this one. Keuchel is the been there done that veteran on this White Sox team that is chalked full of youngsters. The White Sox knew that they were going to need some experienced help if they were going to make a deep postseason run, and Dallas Keuchel gives them that experience and leadership.
Keuchel has actually pitched really well this season, with an ERA of 2.04. He hasn’t been getting overly deep into most games, particularly recently, but that may be more of a load management decision than a performance-based decision. Keuchel has made three starts in September, and while he has only pitched a combined fourteen innings in those three appearances, he has yet to give up even a single earned run. The White Sox won all three games and have won five of his last six.
While this recent hot streak probably won’t be enough to get the Cleveland Indians the division title, the Indians have to love how they are playing right now as they head into the postseason. Cleveland has a playoff spot locked up, but they would much rather finish second in the division than in the wild card, as they don’t want to have to face the Rays or the A’s in the first round.
We all saw last year how momentum is real in baseball when the Washington Nationals caught fire at the end of the year and rode that hot streak to a world title and Cleveland has managed to get things moving in the right direction after a nasty slump in mid-September. Cleveland lost eight straight games earlier this month but have now won six out of their last seven, all against divisional opponents, to set themselves up well for the playoffs.
Zach Plesac (4-2 1.85 ERA)
Zach Plesac missed a month of action when he violated team rules and was sent to the Indian’s alternate training site. But since he has joined the team, he has been light’s out. With the exception of one rough outing against the Minnesota Twins, Plesac has been nearly unhittable. In his last four starts other than the one against Minnesota, Plesac has worked a combined 26.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs. He pitched at least six innings in each of those four starts, and the Indians won all four games.
Who Do I Like?
We have seen how great Zach Plesac has been this season, but when you look at his results at home this year, they are almost too good to be believed. At home this year, Plesac is 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts. He has worked fifteen total innings and has allowed just one earned run, and that came on a solo shot home run.
That type of home field excellence has been true for this entire Cleveland team, as they are 15-8 when favored at home like they are in this game. And when you look at the Chicago White Sox, they have been downright awful on the road as underdogs as they are just 4-9 away from home when getting juice. Their four road wins when betting underdogs is one of the lowest totals in the American League.
I don’t love fading Dallas Keuchel, as he is pitching really well, but Zach Plesac is pitching out of his mind right now, and I can’t pass up on backing him at such a reasonable price. The fact that the White Sox just can’t hit the ball in the last week is awfully concerning, and I can’t imagine they are going to break out of that slump tonight against Plesac and the Indians elite bullpen.
You never want to overreact to a small sample size of games, but this Cleveland team has a lot of swagger right now. The Indians took the last two games of this series with the White Sox with walk-off victories. Last night, Cleveland walked it off in the ninth on a Jordan Luplow home run, and the night before, it was Jose Ramirez that played the hero, when he jacked a three-run bomb to beat the White Sox in extra innings.
I am going to follow the data, and back the Indians tonight at home, as they look to sweep the White Sox. This Cleveland team has the best pitching staff in the American League, and nobody is going to want to match up with them in the playoffs. They are playing their best baseball of the season, and they must be feared, both in this game and in the postseason. Give me the Cleveland Indians laying -125 tonight at home in the series finale against Chicago.