We get a potentially fun shootout at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday night, when the explosive Baltimore Orioles visit the Chicago White Sox. Vegas is eyeing quite the explosive battle, as game one of an intense four-game series is propped up as one that will feature fireworks.
It very well could, as Baltimore ranks 11th in home runs in 2017 and could push the White Sox to crank out some heavy bats, while Guaranteed Rate Field can give way to the long ball at times. Of course, neither of these teams is necessarily reliable. The Orioles slide in behind a four-game skid and are approaching .500 ball. Baltimore is just 31-30 in the competitive AL East, while a 4-6 stretch over their last 10 games doesn’t have them looking like a real contender for the division crown at the moment.
Baltimore stills enters as the mild favorite here, even though they’ve been an abysmal 10-20 away from Camden Yards. Chicago has by far been at their best (12-11) at their home stadium, but they’re working through a rough patch of their own as losers of 8 of their last 10 games. Chicago is firmly entrenched at the bottom of the AL Central with a paltry 26-35 record and seem to be going nowhere fast.
Could this still be a good spot for the Sox to hold firm at home, or can we expect an Orioles win in a fiery shootout? Let’s break this matchup down further to find out the best way to target it from a betting perspective:
Baltimore Orioles (-124) @ Chicago White Sox (+104) Total: 10.5
Wade Miley (2-3, 3.27 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-5, 3.80 ERA)
The first thing we notice is the pitching. It’s not good. Few MLB arms promote less optimism than Mike Pelfrey, who isn’t really your typical gas can, but also doesn’t strike batters out and he surely doesn’t promote much confidence. Pelfrey stifling the Orioles, lasting long and/or getting the win here collectively feels like a massive reach.
The one thing the 33-year old righty does well, however, is survive. Pelfrey does a pretty good job of eating about five innings per game, induces a fair amount of ground balls and overall can limit the hard contact. His ERA is probably unsustainable, but we need to give him credit for being the boring pitcher he’s been, as it’s bled into solid outings lately. Whether we want to really respect it or not, Pelfrey has given up more than five hits just twice all season and has allowed four total runs over his last four starts.
Pelfrey has a problem in this matchup, as the Orioles can get after right-handed pitching. They send off the 13th most deep balls against righties and can go off in any given game. They don’t tend to go nuts on the road so much, however, while they aren’t overly efficient (22nd in batting average versus righties). Trusting Pelfrey doesn’t feel safe, but all he does is limit teams and avoid dangerous contact. That’s kept him afloat to this point and against a team that lives off the long ball, that could have him in good shape at home, where it’s probably worth noting he sports a strong 2.84 ERA.
Wade Miley promotes a little confidence on the other side, too. The 30-year old lefty has somehow kept things together for the most part in 2017, limiting the long ball and eating innings just like Pelfrey. He’s been way more prone to hard contact than Pelfrey, but he also boasts more strikeout upside. Miley is surprisingly the shaky side of this matchup, as Chicago crushes southpaws (13th in home runs and tops in batting average).
Vegas likes an explosion here, but ultimately I think we’ll go disappointed. Miley can randomly be stingy and Pelfrey is annoyingly conservative. The latter just seems to limp through innings without getting blasted, while Miley does admittedly seem to inch closer and closer to a true implosion.
The Over isn’t a foolish play given the matchups and offensive power, but both of these arms have been frustrating to target all year and neither offense is necessarily reliable. I like Chicago as an upset pick at home with their splits advantage versus Miley, but the real play is the Under. This is simply too rich of a Total for these two teams with arms that tend to keep games more contained than we’d like to believe.