The playoff race is starting to really take shape this week as several teams are loading up on talent, while other squads are dumping veteran players to stock up on prospects. Teams that most expected to be buying at the deadline, most notably, the Cleveland Indians, have turned into sellers. And no team has made a bigger splash in the trade market than the San Diego Padres, as they are pulling the trigger on deals left and right, including nabbing ace starting pitcher Mike Clevinger from the Indians this morning.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 31, 2020
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the trade deadline day plays out, as it looks like teams are going to be very active, with the vast majority of teams still at least mathematically in the hunt for the postseason. Make sure that you stay tuned to The Sports Geek once all the deals are done, where we will recap all of the action, and let it know how it affects your Major League Baseball bets in the second half of the season. But for now, we wait, and we watch. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Minnesota, where the Twins host the Chicago White Sox.
Chicago White Sox (21-13) at Minnesota Twins (20-15)
The Minnesota Twins are reeling as they have lost a season-high five straight games and have gone from a comfortable first-place lead in the American League Central Division, to third place and fighting for the wild card. To make matters worse, the Twins have seen all five of these recent losses come in the division, and their series sweep loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers in their last series, has Detroit right back into the postseason conversation.
For Chicago, the White Sox are surging up the standing in the central division and are now tied with the Cleveland Indians for first place after winning eleven of their last thirteen games. The White Sox +43 run differential is the highest in the American League, and this team is really hitting its stride here in August.
Starting tonight for the White Sox is Lucas Giolito (3-2 3.09 ERA), and for the Twins, it is veteran Rich Hill (1-1 3.55 ERA). The game total over/under is set at nine runs. The White Sox are -130 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 PM PST from Target Field in Minneapolis.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox were looking at acquiring Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger, but those talks stalled, and Clevinger was moved to the San Diego Padres instead. But the White Sox still come out looking like winners in the deal, as they just saw the Indians trade away one of the best pitchers in the league, despite being tied with Chicago for first place.
Chicago has some other talks going, but with no major needs outside of maybe a starter, the White Sox may just decide to stand pat this year and take a shot with their current roster. And it’s hard to blame them, as they are playing good baseball right now, and they have very little risk of missing the postseason at this point. In a postseason that is going to be greatly expanded and unpredictable, it looks like the White Sox aren’t going to make a desperate move to go all-in for a 2020 world title.
Lucas Giolito (3-2 3.09 ERA)
Lucas Giolito is on another level right now and is pitching better than he ever has in his five-year career. In his last two starts, he tossed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, setting a White Sox franchise record with 13 Ks in the process. In the game before that historic start, he pitched seven shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers, again with 13 Ks. All told, in his last two outings, he has pitched 16 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 26. That is production we haven’t seen out of a pitcher in Chicago, a long time.
Giolito will try and keep it going tonight against a Twins team that he has had some struggles against in the last two years. In his lone start against Minnesota this year, Giolito got rocked by the Twins to the tune of seven earned runs in just three, and two-thirds of an inning pitched. In that game, he gave up two home runs. To put into context just how good he has been since that one bad outing, Giolito has allowed just one homer in his last six starts.
What is going on with these Minnesota Twins in the last week? They went from one of the heavier hitting teams in the American League to a complete power outage. The Twins have scored just eleven runs in their last five games, losing all five contests, four of them by multiple runs.
Minnesota has been a little banged up, with Mitch Garver, Josh Donaldson, and Byron Buxton all on the IL, but they still have a lot of power hitters in the lineup, and they just aren’t hitting right now. They have a tall task tonight against Lucas Giolito, and they need to find a way to bust out of this slump, and fast, if they want to stay in the chase for the AL Central Division title.
Rich Hill (1-1 3.55 ERA)
When a playoff-contending team needs a reliable veteran starter, they go out and get Rich Hill. Hill has been a hired gun for most of his 16-year Big League career, constantly being traded to teams that need a guy that can be counted on when it matters. Hill has played for a whopping nine MLB teams in his career, including six teams where he played just one season with the squad.
The Minnesota Twins found themselves looking for a reliable back of the rotation guy, so they did what teams always do in that position and brought in Rich Hill during the offseason. Hill started his season a bit late and has made three starts for the Twins in 2020.
He has pitched just a combined 12.2 in those three outings, but when he has been in the games, he has pitched fairly well, with a 3.55 ERA. Run support has been a struggle for Hill this season, as the Twins are averaging just over two runs a game when he starts.
Who Do I Like?
I think Lucas Giolito gets his revenge on the Minnesota Twins tonight. The bats in Minnesota have gone cold, and they are missing Donaldson and Garver’s power and Buxton’s speed on the basepaths. Giolito has always been hot and cold versus the Twins, but he has shown the ability to shut them down recently.
Last year, Giolito faced the Twins four times, in one start, he got hammered, but in the other three starts, he pitched a combined 20 innings, allowing just two earned runs on only eight hits. That includes a complete game shutout against Minnesota on August 21st, that saw him punch out twelve.
I am going to back the hot hand tonight in this one. I can’t fully explain the Twin’s recent struggles at the plate, but with how well Lucas Giolito is pitching right now, I don’t expect them to bust out of this slump tonight. I think Giolito has more success, and this White Sox lineup should do enough to give the Chicago the win. Give me the Chicago White Sox tonight on the road as small road favorites, at -130!