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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Astros vs. White Sox: Will Lucas Giolito Silence Houston Offense? (Saturday, July 17)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Astros vs. White Sox: Will Lucas Giolito Silence Houston Offense? (Saturday, July 17) article feature image

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Abraham Toro slides into home in front of Zack Collins.

  • Houston and Chicago play the second of their three-game series on Saturday night.
  • The Astros have one of the best offenses in baseball, but their pitcher Jake Odorizzi could be due for regression.
  • Tanner McGrath explains below why these factors make the total a compelling bet.

Astros vs. White Sox Odds

Astros Odds -105
White Sox Odds -115
Over/Under 9 (-115/-105)
Time 7:15 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday night and via DraftKings.

This series is a must-watch for any baseball fan.

These are two of the best teams in the American League. In fact, these are the two best statistical offenses in baseball.

But while both teams have played amazing baseball, the Astros have dominated this season matchup; just as they did Friday night in a 7-1 victory.

The White Sox need to take a stand against the Astros, but Houston wants to continue running up the score.

So, which team has the value in this Jake Odorizzi-Lucas Giolito matchup?

Houston Astros

Houston has the best offense in baseball, bar none.

Houston finished the first half with the most runs scored per game (5.45) and the best run differential (+136) in the American League. Plus, the Astros have mounted a 3.5-game lead in the division.

The lineup is stacked. The Astros lead the league in OPS (.783), wOBA (.339) and wRC+ — where their 119 mark indicates they’ve been 19% better than the average team in run creation and a whopping 7% better than the second-place team (notably, the White Sox).

Interestingly, the Astros don’t necessarily “mash.” Houston ranks just ninth in ISO (.170) and doesn’t crack the top five in hard-hit rate (41.3%) or average exit velocity (89.7 mph).

Instead, the Astros are just disciplined. They pace the league in zone contact (85.6%) and chase contact (62.5%) rate, and thus have the lowest whiff rate (20.7%) in baseball. The lineup is filled with smart, talented hitters who get the bat on the ball, and as a result the Astros pair the eighth highest walk rate (9.9%) with the lowest strikeout rate (19%).

Starting pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (RHP)

If Houston has a weakness, it’s the pitching staff.

With Justin Verlander hurt, the Astros have had to piece together the rotation at times. But Zack Greinke has been overwhelmingly stable, and Luis Garcia has come up huge since being plugged into the rotation.

But what about Odorizzi? The former Twin has posted a 3.61 ERA and a WHIP under 1.00 this season. Why isn’t he getting any praise?

Because Odorizzi doesn’t pitch deep into games and the Astros are just 5-6 in his starts. Over his first nine appearances, Odorizzi averaged just over 4 1/3 innings per start; although he made two straight six-inning starts before the break, allowing just three total runs.

Additionally, Odorizzi’s underlying statistics are quite poor. He’s posted career highs in both average exit velocity (91.1 mph) and hard-hit rate (46.2%), and his batted-ball statistics are fueling an expected ERA of 4.34.

In short: Odorizzi’s been lucky. In fact, the difference between his wOBA (.264) and xwOBA (.320) is the seventh-highest among qualified pitchers, and his minuscule .240 BABIP explains that. Expect more hits and runs in Odorizzi starts going forward.

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Chicago White Sox

The White Sox pair that second-best offense with a much more well-rounded pitching staff. Using FIP, the bullpen ranks sixth (3.87), the rotation ranks fifth (3.57) and the whole staff ranks fourth (3.68). The top-half of the rotation includes All-Stars Carlos Rodón and Lance Lynn, and today’s starter Lucas Giolito — who’s somehow been the worst of all three of them this season — while the back end of the bullpen is anchored by superstar closer Liam Hendriks.

The White Sox can blow you out with their lineup or shorten the game with their staff. I believe they have the deepest roster in baseball and are primed for postseason play.

But, the White Sox are also just 16-24 against teams with a winning record. They’re coming off a five-game winning streak, but against the Twins and the Orioles. Plus, the last time they played Houston, they were swept in a four-game series losing by a total score of 27-8.

That begs the question: Are the White Sox overrated?

I don’t have that answer, but I can make an argument they’ve been lucky. The White Sox have posted a .332 wOBA but just a .322 xwOBA, as they combine their 9.9-degree average launch angle — third-worst in MLB — with a .318 BABIP, tops in MLB. Traditionally, we’d expect some regression in the ground-ball department in the second half.

But it’s worth noting that third baseman Yoán Moncada has posted one of the best BABIPs of all-time during his young career. Whether that’s part of a larger team trend or not, it’s important to point out.

Starting pitcher: Lucas Giolito (RHP)

Giolito is having a down year, something that’s been slightly exaggerated by his rotation-mates (Lynn, Rodón) having career seasons. Giolito recorded a 4.15 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in the first half, both stats would be his worst since 2018.

However, I’d look for some positive regression from Giolito, as he pairs his troubling statistics with a 3.58 xERA and a 3.57 xFIP. This is easily explainable from the wOBA and xwOBA on his two secondary pitches:

Pitch No. Thrown wOBA xwOBA
Changeup 643 .294 .242
Slider 318 .272 .243

But when it comes to his primary pitch — the four-seam fastball — there’s a clear issue. The xwOBA on the pitch is way up from the past two seasons, and he’s posted a .508 xSLG on the four-seam.

He fastball just isn’t missing bats like it usually does. The whiff rate on his four-seam is down from 31.6% last season to just 20% this year, thus the strikeout rate on his fastball is down from 29% last year to 23.1% this season.

As a result, his overall K/9 is down to 10.82 after posting an average of 12 the past two years.

Astros-White Sox Pick

This matchup pairs two pitchers begging for regression against two dominant offenses.

The White Sox lineup struggled Friday night, but Odorizzi is not as quality a pitcher as Lance McCullers Jr..

Meanwhile, there’s no reason to bet against the Houston offense. The Astros scored seven runs in the prior matchup. Giolito’s secondary pitches have been solid, but I’m expecting José Altuve and co. to tee off on Giolito’s fastball.

Whether Houston or Chicago wins this one, I think it’ll be in a high-scoring affair. Thus, I’m looking to target the over.

DraftKings currently has the over 9 posted at -105, and I’m willing to bet that line up to -115.

Pick: Over 9 (-115 or better)

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