Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Athletics vs. White Sox: Back Underdog Oakland in Series Finale (August 19)

Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Athletics vs. White Sox: Back Underdog Oakland in Series Finale (August 19) article feature image

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Starling Marte.

  • Teams that seem to be headed for the postseason face off Thursday when the White Sox face the Athletics.
  • Dylan Cease will start for the South Siders, while Cole Irvin looks to continue a strong season for Oakland.
  • Mike Ianniello breaks down the betting value in the matchup below and makes his pick.

Athletics vs. White Sox Odds

Athletics Odds+145
White Sox Odds-165
Time2:10 p.m. ET
TVMLB Network
Odds as of Wednesday via DraftKings.

Two of the American League's best teams will conclude a four-game series on Thursday in Chicago.

The White Sox have a commanding lead in the AL Central standings and will pretty much be on autopilot until the postseason.

On the other side, the Oakland Athletics have been comfortably in the postseason for most of the season, but the recent surge from the Yankees now has them now in a tight wild-card race.

On top of that, the Athletics ace Chris Bassitt was hit on the head with a line drive comebacker on Tuesday. The All-star suffered a displaced tripod fracture in his right cheek that will require surgery. It is unclear how long he will be out and if he will be able to return at all this season.

While obviously his health is the most important thing, it is worth noting that it is a huge loss for the A’s rotation in the middle of a playoff push. Especially when Bassitt would likely be the starter in a wild-card game.

There is no question this game means more to Oakland, but does that mean that is where the value is?

Oakland Athletics

Oakland has been relying on a bunch of young arms this season, including 27-year-old Cole Irvin, who will start on Thursday. Originally drafted by Philadelphia in 2016, the Phillies gave up on the left-hander after just 19 big-league appearances and three career starts. He was traded to Oakland this offseason for cash considerations.

While not dominant by any means, Irvin has been surprisingly pleasant in his first season as a starter. He has made 23 starts this season, posting a 3.52 ERA and an 8-11 record. Irvin has held opponents to two runs or fewer in over half of his starts.

Some underlying metrics do raise red flags. Irvin’s xERA is almost a full run higher at 4.48. He has allowed a wOBA over .291 but an xwOBA over .323 this year, and he ranks in the bottom third of the league in xERA, xBA and xwOBA. He is unlikely to miss many bats with just a 6.38 K/9 rate, which is in the bottom 10% of the league.

When this Oakland offense is clicking, it can be as dangerous as any. Over the last 30 days the A's rank 10th in wOBA and fourth in wRC+. They have the fourth-lowest strikeout rate in the league and have stolen the third-most bases over that stretch.

There might not be a trade deadline acquisition that has immediately paid off more than Starling Marte for the A’s. Since coming over Miami, Marte is batting .364 with a .891 OPS and leads Oakland in hits, runs and stolen bases. Marte’s contact numbers and speed is the perfect complement in his lineup to the power of Matt Olson and Matt Chapman.

Chicago White Sox

There was a big question coming into this season how Dylan Cease would perform in his first full season, and the results have been mixed so far. The right-hander has had some rough outings but overall has a solid 9-6 record with a 4.04 ERA and his 3.71 xERA is even better.

Control was a huge issue for Cease in the shortened 2020 season but he has really improved his walk, and strikeout numbers this year. His walk rate has dropped from 5.25 to 3.54 BB/9, while still not great, is certainly better. He has really improved his swing-and-miss numbers, raising his strikeout rate from 6.79 to 11.91 K/9 this year.

With a fastball that averages 97 mph, Cease has gotten more movement on his four-seamer this season and it has been his best pitch. He ranks in the top third of the league in xERA, xBA, xwOBA and HardHit%.

This White Sox lineup is one of the best in the league and as lethal as any. But it has seemed like they have thrown it in cruise control a bit at times, with a playoff spot all but locked up. Over the last 30 days, Chicago ranks 19th in wOBA and 17th in wRC+. The Sox are striking out at the fifth highest clip over the last month.

The big guns for the White Sox have not packed it in yet. Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez both returned to the lineup recently and have been absolutely mashing the ball since. Make one mistake on the mound, and they will make you pay.

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Athletics-White Sox Pick

As good as the White Sox have been all season and as much as they’ve out played the A’s in this series, I think there is value on Oakland in this spot.

I’m not sure that I totally trust Irvin since his expected numbers are concerning, but he has managed to get outs. He has a really solid 3.30 ERA on the road this season and does a great job keeping the ball in the ballpark.

While Cease has looked great at times, he has also gotten shelled at times. Cease relies heavily on strikeouts and Oakland has the fourth-lowest strikeout rate, as well as the sixth-highest walk rate in the league over the last month.

Cease is a fly ball pitcher, with a 44% fly-ball rate this year, the third highest in the league. Oakland has the 10th highest HR/FB ratio in the league over the last 30 days at 14.5%.

Chicago is the better team but the A’s need this game much more than the White Sox, so in an afternoon getaway game, I’ll take the value with the hungry dog and would play them at +130 or better.

Pick: Athletics ML (+145)

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