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White Sox at Angels – Free Pick for September 21

Chicago White Sox +120 vs. Los Angeles Angels -128

Jake Peavy vs. Ervin Santana

It’s getting dangerously late for the Angels.  The darlings of prognosticators’ eye (me included) after the emergence of Mike Trout and Mike Trumbo, the resurgence of Albert Pujols and the acquisition of Zack Greinke – the sky was the limit for Los Angeles… but it hasn’t worked out that way.  Going into tonight they are 8 ½ games behind the Rangers and a full four games behind the Oakland A’s for the final wildcard spot with only 12 games to play.

It makes every game from here on out absolutely vital.  However, one could make the same contention for the White Sox, even though their prospects are significantly brighter.  They lead the American League Central by two games, but with the offensive talent-laden Detroit Tigers lurking, and Miguel Cabrera seemingly homering every single night, the Sox playoff berth is far from assured.

Tonight puts big-game pitcher Jake Peavy in yet another BIG spot.  He will oppose Ervin Santana, whose numbers on the season are miles behind Peavy, but over the last three games he has pitched very well with a 1-1 record and a 2.29 ERA.  Most impressive is his sub-one WHIP, which tells me he has not just been getting good results, but he has been in command of the strike zone (something that has plagued him throughout his career).

The concerning thing for the White Sox has to be the significant dropoff of Peavy’s performance throughout the long season.  For the first two months, he looked like the Jake Peavy of old, pre-injuries.  Over the last two months he has been shaky.  In his last six starts, while he hasn’t been awful, he hasn’t been great either; only three of his six starts have been “quality starts.”

The White Sox seem like a tantalizing prospect tonight; they are throwing a big name pitcher and are getting plus-money odds.  However, here are some stats that point me in the Halo’s direction:

The Angels are 15-7 in their last 22 games as a favorite, and are an impressive 6-2 in their last eight games against a starting pitcher with a WHIP under 1.15.  The Angels not only can hit, they can also hit exceptionally good pitching.  They are also 7-2 in Santana’s last nine starts.  Meanwhile, the White Sox are 2-8 in Peavy’s last 10 road starts and just 1-4 in his last five starts as an underdog.

Lay the juice and take the Angels tonight to win at home.

Free Pick:  Los Angeles Angels to WIN -128