Athletics vs. White Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Which AL Playoff Hopeful Has Edge? (Monday, August 16)

Athletics vs. White Sox Odds, Preview, Prediction: Which AL Playoff Hopeful Has Edge? (Monday, August 16) article feature image
Credit:

Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Olson.

  • Oakland and Chicago begin a three-game series between two AL contenders on Monday.
  • The Athletics start Frankie Montas, who has been on fire, while Chicago give Dallas Keuchel the nod.
  • Tanner McGrath explains below why he thinks Oakland is a virtual lock to win the game.

Athletics vs. White Sox Odds

Athletics Odds -110
White Sox Odds -110
Over/Under 9 (-105/-115)
Time 8:10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Sunday night and via DraftKings.

Two of MLB’s best square off in this series, but only the Athletics have something to prove.

While the White Sox cruise through a weak AL Central – currently navigating with a 10-game lead – the A’s are 2.5 games behind Houston for the AL West lead and are tied with Boston for the wild-card lead.

As we come down the stretch, wins are going to become more important for Oakland than for Chicago. Hungry dogs run faster, they say, but I don’t think that’s the only reason the A’s might pose value tonight.

White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel is not his old self, and the A’s bats might have a good matchup today. Meanwhile, A’s starter Frankie Montas is an intriguing young arm who’s pitching great.

But does this mean the A’s are an auto-bet? Let’s dive in.

Is Montas Due for Regression with Athletics?

The bats are getting hot in Oakland again.

Over the past 30 days, the A’s have posted the 10th best OPS (.768), the ninth best wOBA (.334), and the fourth best wRC+ (113) in MLB. They’re not exactly mashing the ball (.174 ISO, 17th in MLB; 33 HRs, 22th in MLB), but they’ve been very disciplined (21.5 K%, fifth lowest in MLB; 9.1 BB%, seventh highest in MLB).

Speaking of disciplined, let’s check in on Matt Olson, who currently ranks in the 85th percentile of hitters in both strikeout rate (15.8%) and walk rate (12.4%). He’s posted a 173 wRC+ over the past month, batting .297 with a 1.021 OPS during the stretch, while walking 16 times and striking out just 15.

A big reason for Olson’s success recently has been breaking balls, as he’s performed better and better against the pitch as the season has progressed:

Specifically, the slider, as he’s slugged .549 with a .384 wOBA on the pitch this season, good for a +7 run value.

Olson and Co. are the reason the A’s have posted a 19-11 record over their last 30. The pitching has been solid but not overwhelming, but today’s starter is working on an excellent stretch of starts:

Starting pitcher: Frankie Montas (RHP)

There’s nothing wrong with what Montas is doing right now.

In fact, he’s been downright excellent. Since July 1, Montas has a 2.42 ERA and a 2.92 xFIP in seven starts. He’s averaging over six innings per start during this stretch and hasn’t pitched fewer than 5 2/3. Also, during this stretch, he’s striking out over 11 batters per nine innings while allowing just .42 home runs per nine.

Montas has historically been a sinkerball pitcher, but he may have found something with his four-seam. Montas has slowly switched out the sinker for the four seam as the season has progressed:

And it’s worked wonders, as he’s allowed just a .111 BA and a .157 wOBA on the four-seam through two starts this month. However, that pitch is due for some regression, as his xBA is up at .196 and his xwOBA is up at .235.

Nonetheless, those are not bad expected statistics, and Montas is cruising now. I’m excited to see how he fares against this stacked Chicago lineup.

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White Sox On AL-Central Cruise Control

The White Sox may have dropped four of their last five, but they don’t have much to worry about.

The White Sox have the division locked up; everyone in the projection market has the White Sox at 99.9% to win the AL Central. Their 10-game lead is “rivaled” by the Indians, but the biggest “threat” might be Detroit, who is 11-games back.

Nonetheless, the White Sox should be focused on playing quality ball the rest of the season. While the starting rotation and the revamped bullpen are largely fulfilling that role, the White Sox lineup has been iffy in recent weeks.

Over the past 30 days, the White Sox rank among the bottom 10 teams in OPS (.730), wOBA (.314), and wRC+ (101). Speaking of discipline – while the White Sox have the third highest walk rate this season (9.9%), they have just the 12th highest over the past month (8.8%).

Watch out for Eloy Jiménez, however, who’s hit five home runs in his last six games. Eloy’s posted a 1.027 OPS since returning from injury on July 28, but his bat will probably regress as he accrues more PA’s.

Starting pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (LHP)

I am exceedingly low on Keuchel this season.

Dallas ranks among the bottom 10% of pitchers in:

  • xERA (5.93)
  • xBA (.295)
  • xSLG (.480)
  • xwOBA (.365)
  • K% (14.4%)
  • Fastball Velocity (88 mph)

While there’s an argument to be made that he’s been an innings eater in the back half of Chicago’s rotation, I don’t buy that. He’s allowed a 5.72 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP over his past seven starts, and the White Sox are just 2-5 in those games.

Keuchel’s once-effective sinker has continued its downward trend:

In his age-33 season, unless Keuchel makes some extreme pitch-to-contact adjustments, I am not high on his future. He’s walking over three batters per nine while allowing a 1.50 HR/9 rate, and the projection market has him posting a 4.60-to-4.70 FIP for the rest of the year.

Athletics-White Sox Pick

The A’s are an auto-bet in this game.

However, I’m going to stay away from the bullpen matchup, where the White Sox have a clear advantage, and instead focus on fading Keuchel. Given the A’s have posted the third best wOBA (.350) and wRC+ (127) against southpaws over the past month, I really like their chances against Keuchel today.

Combine that with Montas’ hot streak, and the A’s first five innings ML looks quite profitable right now.

At the time of this writing, DraftKings is offering us this line at -115. I’ll happily play that number and would recommend betting it to -120.

Pick: A’s First Five ML (-115 | Play to -120)

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