White Sox starting pitcher Hector Santiago (21). Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Only one team over the previous four seasons has lost 100-plus games. Well, this year, we have six teams on pace to lose triple-digit games — more than the previous six seasons combined. We have a lot of bad teams in baseball, folks.
Two of those bad teams — the Orioles and White Sox — begin a series today at Guaranteed Rate Field, which has to be the least-known park name in baseball. Baltimore and Chicago are each on pace to lose about 113 games, which would be the most since Detroit lost 119 in 2003. The most since then? The Astros’ 111 losses in 2013. Maybe that will give O’s and Sox fans some hope for the future.
These bad teams still deserve our attention on a nightly basis from a betting perspective. Let’s take a look at Monday’s matchup on the South Side of Chicago.
Baltimore Orioles (-119) at Chicago White Sox (+109) | O/U 9.5
Andrew Cashner (1-5, 4.83 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (0-1, 5.29 ERA)
8:10 p.m. ET
I Won’t Lie (This Time): I used to work nights at my old job with MLB.com, and sometimes my hours forced me to miss the last train home. That, in turn, led to a few close relationships with bartenders near Penn Station in New York. On some nights, the building supervisor of the bar I frequented would pop in to say what’s up. One night, he asked where I worked and I told him. He then asked me if I ever heard of Hector Santiago. I said of course. It turned out I was talking to Hector’s cousin, who asked me if I thought he was good. I lied and said yes.
Anyway, I won’t lie this time. We have two replacement-level starting pitchers going at it tonight. Beyond that, neither team’s bullpen has enjoyed much success this year. The Orioles’ pen has MLB’s third-worst xFIP at 4.48, while Chicago’s has performed only slightly better at 4.33. With its appalling starting pitcher matchup, this game could come down to which bullpen implodes the least. Happy Monday, everyone. — Michael Leboff
As Michael said, Santiago is not good and wouldn’t stand a chance of cracking the rotation on a competitive team. He’s posted an xFIP of 5 or higher in each of the past four seasons — and at least 6 the last two. Out of 133 qualified pitchers since 2015, his 5.42 xFIP ranks dead last.
The reason? Oodles of walks and homers. Santiago owns a 1.59 HR/9 rate since 2015 — the seventh-highest rate among all qualified pitchers. He’s also walked 3.87 batters per 9 innings over that span — the ninth-highest rate in the league. Two top-10 lists no pitcher wants to find himself on. — Mark Gallant
Dating back to last season, the White Sox and Twins have lost Santiago’s last eight starts by an astounding five runs per game. Opponents have averaged 8.1 runs per game during that streak.
He also has a subpar 18-29 moneyline record in the first two months of the regular season, losing bettors a total of 11.6 units. That makes him the fourth-least profitable pitcher in that span. — Evan Abrams
Devil’s Advocate: Although the record states that Santiago sucks and the Orioles have had more production against lefties than righties, Santiago does have a few things working in his favor tonight.
- The Orioles don’t walk very much — only the White Sox and Tigers have fewer free passes in 2018.
- Though the Orioles do hit some dongs, the suboptimal weather conditions (cool temps, winds blowing from left to right) will give Baltimore’s fly-ball hitters a tough time.
- Santiago’s recent batted-ball data has been excellent. Per Fantasy Labs, his batted-ball distance, exit velocity and hard-hit percentage over the past 15 days are all down significantly from his 12-month averages.
Three decent indicators of success. I’m not saying he’ll pitch a gem tonight, but don’t simply bet against him on name alone. — Mark Gallant
Birdwatching: Speaking of giving up long balls, Cashner can’t find a way to keep the ball in the park so far this year. He has the fifth-highest HR/9 rate among all qualified starters at 1.97 — more than double his career average. That could pose problems against a White Sox team that has shown some pop against right-handed pitching. Chicago has the 10th-highest team slugging percentage against righties in 2018. — Stuckey
Frying Batters: Time for some positivity. White Sox fans have to be excited about reliever Jace Fry, who looks like he could be the future of their bullpen. The former Oregon State Beaver has filthy stuff and has not allowed a hit over 8.1 innings this season. Lefties have looked especially lost at the plate.
The left-hander comes right after batters, which could make him an effective closer in the future. In fact, he picked up his first career save Sunday against the Rangers, striking out two in the process. The only real question is his health, as he’s dealt with a multitude of arm issues in the past.
In semi-positive news for the Orioles, Zach Britton will throw a simulated game Tuesday, as he gets one step closer to returning in June. However, don’t expect him to last in the pen very long once he does return, as the closer should get traded at some point. — Stuckey
Did You Know? The White Sox (13-30, .302 win percentage) have won back-to-back games. In the last 10 years, teams with a winning percentage of 40% or lower that are on a winning streak have gone 271-270 in their next game. A $100 bettor would have profited $7,736 wagering on these bad teams over the past decade. — John Ewing
Stats via Baseball Reference and FanGraphs