MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for White Sox vs. Astros: Can Houston Hit Lance Lynn? (June 19)
Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley
- Houston welcomes Chicago to Minute Maid Park on Saturday for the third game of their four-game series.
- The Astros can secure the series win with a third victory today, but Chicago Lance Lynn is one of the best pitchers this season.
- Michael Arinze explains, below, why he thinks the Astros' bats can stay hot enough to secure the win.
White Sox vs. Astros Odds
|White Sox Odds||+110|
|Time||7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via PointsBet.|
The Houston Astros will secure a series win on Saturday night with a victory over the Chicago White Sox. Houston won the first two games of the four-game series to extend their winning streak to five games. The Astros have been playing superb baseball over the last three weeks at 14-4 in their last 18 games.
Framber Valdez gets set to make his fifth start of the season for Houston, and Lance Lynn for Chicago will oppose him.
This game features two heavyweight teams in the American League, with one team perhaps just marginally better than the other in this matchup.
Beating a Dead Horse Here, But White Sox’s Lance Lynn Due for Regression
Per FanGraphs, Chicago has the fifth-best offense in baseball in terms of wRC+ with a value of 109. It’s also one of only five teams with a batting average (.253) over .250. The Sox rank third with an OBP of .337 and fourth with a walk rate of 10.2%. But one stat that jumps out to me is their ISO, which at .150 puts them 20th in the league.
I’m aware that it may seem like I’m just rattling off statistics ad nauseam, but I promise there is a method to my madness. So let’s keep those offensive numbers in mind, and I’ll move on to assess Chicago’s starter on Saturday night.
At 7-2, Lynn’s off to a fine start this season. He carries a 1.51 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. However, as good as he’s been, we could start to see some regression when you factor in his 3.27 FIP, which is higher than his ERA.
Another thing that makes his regression more likely is that he’s stranding 91.5% of the runners that reach base. That’s not sustainable, considering that hitters have a worse batting average against him with at least one runner on base than when the bases are empty. For example, with a runner on first base, they’re hitting .106, .111 with a runner(s) in scoring position, and .220 when the bases are empty.
With numbers like that, his luck factor must be through the roof. In his previous seasons, Lynn has never finished with a LOB% greater than 79.4%. And that occurred last year during the pandemic-shortened season in which he only made 12 starts.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Lynn’s HR/FB rate is on the rise. After allowing only four home runs in his first nine starts to begin the season, he’s allowed four in his last three starts. In addition, his flyball rate of 46.7% is the highest of his career, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if we see more of those batted balls continue to leave the park.
Astros Offense Stays Scorching Hot
If I were an opposing pitcher, I would be ghastly afraid of this Houston lineup. Earlier, I touched on Chicago’s offense, so now, let’s put it into context with Houston’s using those same stats:
- Houston is atop the league with a wRC+ value of 123.
- Their .274 batting average is .14 points higher than any team in the league.
- The Astros lead the league with a .344 OBP.
- Houston is 11th with a walk rate of 9%.
- They’re ranked 7th with a .177 ISO.
To put it mildly, the Astros are the best offensive team in baseball when you look at the advanced numbers. Their Pythagorean expectation suggests they should be even better with a win percentage of .638 instead of their actual win percentage of .594.
Valdez, Saturday’s starter, got a late start to the season after fracturing the ring finger on his pitching hand. He didn’t factor in the decision in his first start after completing four innings, but he’s followed that up with three straight wins while pitching at least seven innings in each of those outings. In addition to his 3-0 record, he sports a 1.42 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. His 3.48 FIP points to some regression, but I think it’s a little too early to focus on that, considering that he’s only made four starts thus far.
Instead, I prefer to use his SIERA number from last season, which is more predictive for year-over-year analysis. Valdez finished the season with a 3.23 SIERA. His 1.42 ERA is well ahead of that pace, so it’ll be interesting to watch how that normalizes over the season.
You’ll notice one difference between Lynn and Valdez straightaway: the Houston left-hander is a tremendous ground ball pitcher. Since he’s been in the big leagues, he has a flyball rate of just 17%. This season, it’s only 11.8%.
White Sox vs. Astros Pick
The last time the White Sox got a look at Valdez, he was pitching in relief and worked 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. Chicago’s current lineup has just nine at-bats against him with a .111/.333/.111 line. I bring this up because of all the love the White Sox normally get when they face a left-handed starter.
I’m well aware of Chicago’s 33-4 (+26.61 units) run against southpaws. I know they’ve won nine of their last 10 games (+6.7 units) against a starting lefty and five straight games in this spot. But I’m putting the flag down that run will end with Valdez on the mound. This isn’t some hack or tomato can who has soft-tossed his way into the starting rotation. Instead, Valdez is a quality pitcher who will be in the Astros’ rotation for years to come.
Something will have to give on Saturday night because, despite Chicago’s enchanting trend against left-handers, Lynn’s numbers against the Astros might be enough to cancel them out. Since 2013, Lynn’s teams are just 1-7 (-5.85 units) in his starts against the Astros.
He’s also lost his last four outings against them and has an 8.06 ERA in those games.
Houston will be very familiar with him from the time he spent in the division with the Rangers. The Astros lineup has 120 at-bats against him with a .300/.344/.517 line. The fact that Lynn’s home run numbers are starting to rise could be problematic against an Astros lineup that has a .217 ISO against him with seven home runs.
My model makes Houston a -134 favorite in this contest, and I like the value I’m getting in the market with DraftKings offering them at -125.
Pick: Astros ML (-125)