Sunday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Astros vs. White Sox Game 3 Betting Preview

Sunday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Astros vs. White Sox Game 3 Betting Preview article feature image
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Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Luis Garcia

  • The White Sox are a home favorite against the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series on Sunday night (8:07 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).
  • Should Chicago really be favored? The Sox will send Dylan Cease to the mound against Luis Garcia.
  • Get out full White Sox vs. Astros preview and pick below.

Astros vs. White Sox Odds

Astros Odds +105
White Sox Odds -125
Over/Under 8.5 (-105 / -115)
Time 8:07 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

After falling to a 2-0 deficit in the ALDS, the Chicago White Sox needs a spark, and they need one now. They’ll hope a return to the friendly surroundings of Guaranteed Rate Field will be enough for them to claw their way back into the series. The problem is that the White Sox have been outmaneuvered and outgunned in just about every way possible against the Astros.

However, this issue didn’t just begin in the postseason. The Astros won the regular-season series 5-2, outscoring the White Sox 35-23. Now, after two playoff games, Houston’s outscored Chicago 15-5.

The White Sox will turn to Dylan Cease on the mound for Game 3 with their playoff hopes on life support. That might be the equivalent of a Hail Mary, but I don’t think their prayers get answered this time.

Battle-Tested Astros Turn To Garcia

The Houston Astros have been an institution in the postseason over the last five years. It’s one thing to make the playoffs, but the Astros reached the ALCS in each one of those seasons. This team is battle-tested and knows what it takes to mount a deep run in October.

Luis Garcia got a chance to experience one of those runs as a rookie last year. He even started Game 5 of the ALCS against the Rays. Although the right-hander only pitched two innings, he didn’t allow a run in either frame and helped set the tempo for an Astros team trailing 3-1 in the series. That experience should serve him well when he takes the mound for the Astros in Game 3 on Sunday.

Last season, Garcia was mainly used as a reliever. He made five appearances with one start and went 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. His stuff plays at the major league level, which resulted in a promotion to the starting rotation. This season, he made 30 appearances with 28 starts and went 11-8 with a 3.30 ERA in addition to a 1.17 WHIP. While Garcia’s 3.63 FIP points to a slight regression, it’s only 0.33 points higher than the standard ERA.

One reason for his higher FIP is his 2.90 BB/9 ratio. He’ll need to continue improving his command, but he’s still only a 24-year old in his second year. However, I think he’s effectively wild when you consider that he’s getting 32.7% of swings outside the strike zone. That’s up from his rookie season mark of 24.1%.

Garcia’s especially tough on opposing hitters because of his five-pitch mix. Per Baseball Savant, he throws a four-seamer (44.7%), a cutter (22.6%), a slider (12.4%), a changeup (11%) and a curveball (9.4%). It’s not often you see a second-year pitcher throw five different pitches with that much variety in his off-speed arsenal.

As Garcia develops, he’ll probably throw his four-seamer even less. After all, batters are hitting .297 against the pitch, which is .73 points better than when they face his other pitches. Hitters also have a 19.1% whiff rate against the four-seamer compared to the rest of his pitches, in addition to a whiff rate of at least 36.2%.

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White Sox Need Cease To Desist Houston’s Hitters

Unlike his counterpart, this will be Cease’s first postseason start. The moment can’t get any bigger for the Georgia native, with the White Sox on the brink of elimination. Cease was a highly regarded prospect as he came through the minors. He always had elite-level stuff and managed to put it all together this season, his third year in the majors.

Cease went 13-7 on the season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.  However, his 3.40 FIP suggests he’s pitched even better than his numbers show. One quality he possesses is the ability to cancel out his errors. His 12.28 K/9 ratio is almost twice his 2020 tally. He’s also cut down on his walks from 5.25 per nine innings down to 3.69.

He utilizes a four-pitch mix with a four-seamer (46.8%), a slider (30.6%), a curveball (15.2%) and a changeup (7.4%). Hitters have had the most success against his four-seamer as they’re hitting .264 against the pitch and no higher than .205 when facing his three other pitches.

However, Cease has shown a tendency to fall in love with the pitch and the radar gun, as he averages around 96.7 mph with the pitch. But when you throw that hard, I worry Cease might be too excitable in his first postseason start.

As a team, Houston’s lineup finished in the top-10 against the four-seamer at 25.8 runs above average. Houston’s also logged 45 at-bats against Cease and has a .289/.418/.556 line with a .267 ISO. Cease will need to be particularly mindful of Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve. Both players combined to go 7-of-15 against him with three home runs.

It’ll be interesting to see how deep Cease can pitch in the ballgame. The White Sox haven’t had many answers coming out of their bullpen this postseason. They have the second-highest opponent batting average at .333 and the third-highest ERA at 6.75. That pales compared to the Astros bullpen with a 1.29 ERA and a .259 batting average against.

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Astros-White Sox Pick

Chicago hired Tony La Russa to lead the team to the World Series. However, I thought the firing of his predecessor, Rick Renteria, was a bit premature. Perhaps this is a bit of karma working against the White Sox in this spot. I guess La Russa isn’t the omniscient one the organization made him out to be.

Chicago wasn’t a better team than Houston in the regular season, and it’s not a better team at this point in the postseason. I’m not ready to throw my trust behind Cease in this critical spot as he makes his first postseason start with plenty at stake.

In Cease’s three career starts against Houston, Chicago’s been outscored 23-5. I know this is a must-win game for the White Sox; I can’t pass up snagging the better Astros team as a +105 underdog.

Pick: Astros ML (+105)

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