MLB Odds, Picks and Predictions: White Sox vs. Athletics Game 1 Preview
Ron Schwane/Getty Images. Pictured: Lucas Giolito
White Sox vs. Athletics Game 1 Odds
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|White Sox Odds||-120 [Bet Now in Illinois!]|
|Athletics Odds||+100 [Bet Now]|
|Over/Under||7.5 (-115/-105) [Bet Now]|
|First Pitch||3 p.m. ET|
The Oakland Athletics won’t mind the new wrinkle that Major League Baseball has added to this year’s Wild Card games. Unlike in the past, this Wild Card round will be played in a best-of-three series. Oakland has played in the Wild Card Game in each of its last three playoff appearances and been bounced each time. Now, it’ll have at least one extra game under the current format, and all the games will be played at its home park.
The Atheltics’ opponent this time will be the Chicago White Sox, who are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Oakland will start left-hander, Jesus Luzardo, while the White Sox will have their ace, Lucas Giolito on the mound.
Luzardo got a taste of the postseason last year when he came out of the bullpen to pitch three shutout innings with the Athletics already trailing, 5-1.
While that experience should help Luzardo, he’ll still have to navigate a White Sox lineup that has absolutely dominated left-handed starters this season.
Luzardo finished the regular season 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. His 4.19 FIP suggests that his runs allowed ended up being about what he deserved for the season. When he pitches in his home park, Luzardo is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 2.17 FIP, but against right-handed hitters, his FIP actually jumps to 3.45. Overall, Luzardo has a 4.68 FIP against right-handed hitters vs. a 2.52 FIP against lefties.
Luzardo throws four pitches: a four-seamer (31%), changeup (24.9%), curveball (23.5%) and sinker (20.6%). FanGraphs rates his fastball this season at just 1.2 runs above average while his changeup grades out as 0.8 runs above average and his curveball at 0.1 runs below average. The White Sox have actually done remarkably well against the fastball as they finished the season ranked fourth in all of baseball by scoring 28.8 runs above average when facing the pitch.
Luzardo may want to feature his changeup even more against Chicago which ranks in the bottom half of the league (18th), scoring 2.9 runs below average against the pitch. And when facing a curveball, White Sox batters are fourth in baseball, scoring 10.7 runs above average against the pitch.
One thing that could work to Luzardo’s advantage is that this game will be the first time any White Sox hitter has stepped in the batter’s box against him.
Chicago White Sox
After throwing a no-hitter in August, Lucas Giolito will look to build on what’s already been a special year for him. The White Sox right-hander finished the regular season 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Giolito also finished with a 3.19 FIP, which was lower than his ERA, and suggests that he likely had an even better year than what the traditional stats show.
Giolito has pitched better away from home, as he hasn’t lost a decision on the road (2-0). He’s posted a 2.95 FIP on the road compared to a 3.35 FIP at home.
Per Baseball Savant, Giolito mainly throws three pitches: a four-seamer (50.6%), changeup (33.79%) and slider (14.7%).
When throwing his four-seamer, which averages around 94.3 mph, Giolito is about 11 runs above average in runs allowed, while his changeup is 6.3 runs above average in runs allowed and his slider right around even at -0.3 runs above average. Those numbers could prove to be paramount against an Athletics team that’s in the bottom half of baseball (16th) with 5.9 runs above average against the fastball and 5.7 runs below average against the changeup.
While his slider grades out as right around average in the league, Giolito may be inclined to feature it even more against an Athletics team ranked 28th in the league against the pitch and 23.6 runs below average.
The White Sox have been prodigious when facing left-handers as they had the second-highest batting average (.285) in all of baseball. They also led the majors with a 143 wRC+ rating and a .238 ISO. These guys absolutely mash southpaws which is also why they’re a perfect 14-0 against them this season.
This game comes down to who to trust more out on the mound. Even at the age of 26, Giolito is almost playing the role of a veteran in this spot as he’s being entrusted to take the ball in Game 1 even with an experienced pitcher like Dallas Keuchel on the staff.
The A’s haven’t fared too well recently in these Wild Card matchups and they look like the team that could be a bit tightly wound coming into this game.
While Luzardo did pitch in the postseason last year, he came into the game with Oakland already trailing the Rays by four runs, so he didn’t really come into a pressure situation. Expect the White Sox to continue to stack their right-handers as they have all season. I think it’ll take a lot for Oakland to buck this 14-0 trend against a strong White Sox lineup.
Chicago is 4-1 in Giolito’s road starts this season and its only loss was a 3-2 defeat against Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Indians. Bieber just won the American League triple crown for pitchers. Jesus Luzardo is no Shane Beiber.
Head over to PointsBet and grab the White Sox at -120.
The PICK: White Sox Moneyline -127 (Play up to -135) [Bet Now in Illinois and win $125 if the White Sox get a hit!]