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Astros vs. White Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rodon Should Help Chicago Win Series (Sunday, July 18)

Astros vs. White Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Rodon Should Help Chicago Win Series (Sunday, July 18) article feature image

Ron Vesely/Getty Images. Pictured: Carlos Rodon.

  • The Astros and White Sox close out their series with the decisive rubber match on Sunday afternoon.
  • Until Saturday, Chicago was 0-5 against Houston this year but has a great chance to win the series with Carlos Rodon on the hill.
  • Michael Arinze explains below whether or not the starting pitcher is enough of an advantage for the South Siders.

Astros vs. White Sox Odds

Astros Odds +110
White Sox Odds -130
Over/Under 8
Time Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings

The Chicago White Sox finally got off the schneid against the Houston Astros with an emphatic 10-1 win on Saturday night. Before that victory, the White Sox had lost all five games against the Astros but now have the chance to begin the second half of the season with a series win.

Sunday’s matchup will feature two left-handers, with Houston’s Framber Valdez getting the start against Carlos Rodón for Chicago.

Normally, one would expect a team to bounce back after such a lopsided loss, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case for the Astros.

I’ll expand on that and much more to get you set for this series finale.

Regression Looms for Astros’ Valdez

Valdez comes into this game at 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in nine starts. As impressive as those numbers might be, his 3.83 FIP is almost a full run higher than his ERA, making him a clear-cut regression candidate. His last two starts might serve as early indicators of that regression as he’s pitched only nine innings while allowing nine runs (seven earned).

It’s interesting to note that he’s never started more than 10 games in a season in his four years at the major-league level. As a result, it’s not unreasonable to question whether some fatigue is starting to creep in. And although teams recently returned to competition following the All-Star break, I think the fact that he lacks this experience trumps whatever respite he may have had during the break.

Last season, it looked like Valdez resolved his control issues as he posted a 2.04 BB/9 ratio, which was the best in his career. Before that, his BB/9 ratio was 5.60 in 2019 and 5.84 in 2018. This season, that number has ticked back up to 3.64.

One thing that’s led to the increase is a drop in first-pitch strikes by Valdez. The Dominican native is only throwing 51.7% of his first pitches for strikes, whereas he averaged 59.2% in his last two seasons.

Thus, the closer you look, there are quite a few warning signs with Valdez that should be alarming. At this point, his looming regression isn’t really a matter of if, but when.

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Rodon is Having a Career-Year for White Sox

As good as Valdez’s numbers have been this season, Rodón has been even better. He’s 7-3 with a 2.31 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. His 2.36 FIP is right in line with his ERA, so there’s not much cause for concern there. Rodón is on pace to post the best BB/9 ratio (2.61) of his career, and his 13.05 K/9 ratio would also be a career-high.

A big part of his success this season is due to the improved velocity on his four-seam fastball. He’s averaging 95.9 mph on the pitch, which is quite an improvement over the last two seasons when he averaged 91.6 and 93 mph. In fact, according to FanGraphs Pitch Values, his fastball is valued to be at least 20 runs above average.

While Rodón’s fastball has been otherworldly, his slider has been pretty effective as well. He only throws it 26.5% of the time, but it has a 31.4% putaway rate with 71 strikeouts. That’s pretty remarkable considering that he throws his four-seamer 57% of the time, resulting in 56 strikeouts. Together, his four-seamer and slider are a combined 29 runs above average.

Rodón has done a much better job getting ahead of hitters compared to Valdez. He’s thrown a first-pitch strike 58.3% of the time, and his 30.4% called+swinging strike rate (CSW) is just another example of how elite he’s been.

This is a pitcher who can pitch inside the zone and still miss bats.

Hitters are swinging at 68.4% of his pitches in the zone, a career-high, but their contact rate has dropped from 88.4% to 76.9%—also a career-best.

Astros-White Sox Pick

Chicago’s win on Saturday night is reminiscent of a struggling basketball shooter knocking down their first bucket. Sometimes, you need that first sign of success to send you on your way. I think that could be the scenario for this series finale.

Rodón faced the Astros in mid-June, and he went seven innings while allowing just one run on three hits. While he received a no-decision in the 2-1 loss, his exceptional performance bodes well in this return matchup at home. When you combine that with some of the vulnerabilities we’re starting to see from Valdez, I like Chicago’s chances to make it two straight wins over Houston.

In my opening, I mentioned that the Astros are not necessarily a team that responds well after a drubbing.

Coming off games where they’ve given up at least 10 runs and lost by at least nine, they’re just 20-36 for a loss of 15.58 units.

In fact, they’ve lost their last five games in this spot.

After shopping for lines, BetMGM has the best price available with Chicago at -124, so I’ll look to place my action there.

Pick: White Sox (-124)

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