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Yankees at White Sox – Free Pick August 22nd

New York Yankees +120 at Chicago White Sox -127 (Total: 8.5)

Phil Hughes vs. Chris Sale

The Yankee freefall hasn’t reached epidemic proportions yet, but it has at least risen to concern that their once-seemingly insurmountable lead in the AL East could be in some jeopardy.  They have lost six games on that lead in the last two weeks and now site just four games ahead of the surging (and finally healthy) Tampa Bay Rays.  Even the Orioles have climbed back into the mix and sit just five games out.

Meanwhile the Chicago White Sox, despite their weekend sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, have won five of eight and are poised to sweep the Yankees for the first time in more than a decade.  They have a two game lead on Detroit, and have managed to fight back several attempts by the Tigers to move into the playoff picture.

Much hype has focused around the inning count of Steven Strasburg, however the young White Sox All Star Chris Sale has already doubled his innings count from last year, and is beginning to arouse some caution from White Sox brass.  He has been amazing all season long, but has shown some signs of fatigue in several of his recent starts.  He has allowed 18 runs in his last five starts, in a total of 28.2 innings.  In the four starts previous, he allowed just four runs total.  It will be interesting to see how well he navigates a dangerous Yankee lineup tonight.

The Yankees are battling injuries, but still have a ton of offensive punch and are never an easy team to sweep.  Phil Hughes doesn’t have a great stat line over his three previous starts, with a 6.46 ERA, however, most of that is attributable to one lousy outing.  In his last ten trips to the mound, he has turned in quality starts in eight of them, allowing just 17 runs.  I think he turns in a good outing tonight, especially in contrast with a weaker output from Sale.

It isn’t often you can get the team with the best record in the American League throwing a guy with eight quality starts in his last ten outings and coming off a seven-inning scoreless stretch (not to mention a team batting average of .267 and a league-leading 193 homeruns behind you).  I love the Yanks at +120 tonight, and am making that my official pick.

Free Pick:  New York Yankees to WIN +120