Rays at White Sox – Free Pick September 27th

Tampa Bay Rays -106 at Chicago White Sox -102 (Total: 8)

James Shields at Jake Peavy

Uh oh… That would be the best, if not the most poetic, way to describe the collective mindset of White Sox fans everywhere.  All of a sudden, after leading the Central for most of the second half of the season, the Sox can no longer seem to win a ballgame when it matters.  To make matters even worse, Miguel Cabrera is seemingly un-out-getable in September and the Tigers are absolutely breathing down their necks.  For the final seven game sprint to the finish line, no one knows exactly how many games the White Sox must win, but anything less than 5-2 feels like they are ending the season disappointed next Wednesday.

That makes tonight’s game a near must-win.  “Did someone say must win?  Ok, hand me the ball, let’s do this!”  That voice?  It belongs to James Shields, a.k.a. “Big Game James.”  I can’t think of a much poorer matchup for the desperate Sox tonight than the Rays and their co-ace, James Shields.

Despite similar statistics on the season, in fact Peavy has a better ERA, these two pitchers are heading in opposite directions.  Shields has thrown quality starts in nine of his last ten starts and is coming off a seven-inning, nine strikeout, zero runs allowed performance against Toronto.  Meanwhile, Peavy has thrown just three quality starts in his last seven, and is fresh off a five-inning, five runs allowed, eight hit, two walk loss in a do-or-die road game against Los Angeles.  It’s alluring to back Peavy, based on name and reputation, and in fact I made some nice profits doing just that early in the season, but it is hard to see tonight’s game tipping in Jake’s direction.

The White Sox have been good at home this season, their 44-33 record fifth best in MLB, but the Rays have been good everywhere lately.  They have won seven games in a row and have outscored their opponents 55-17 in those games.  The pitching is always a strength, but when the Rays bats hold up their end of the bargain, this is a fantastic baseball team.

The Rays are 8-2 in Shields last ten starts.  The White Sox are 1-7 in their last eight games.  The Rays are 6-0 in their last six games as the favorite.  The White Sox are 1-5 in their last six as the underdog.  They are only a slight underdog tonight… and for that, I say thanks.  Take the Rays and the relatively generous line at just -106 with Shields on the hill.

Free Pick:  Tampa Bay Rays to WIN -106