White Sox vs. Astros ALDS Odds, Pick, Prediction: Lance McCullers Jr., Houston Have Edge In Opener (October 7)
Tim Warner/Getty Images. Pictured: Lance McCullers Jr.
White Sox vs. Astros Odds
|White Sox Odds||+110|
|Over/Under||8 (+100 / -120)|
|Time||4:07 p.m. ET|
Two of the best offenses in the league will meet in a rematch of the 2005 World Series as the ALDS gets underway between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros.
Chicago ran away with AL Central, going 93-69 and finishing as the only team in the division with a winning record. The White Sox were able to play on cruise control most of the season, going 39-34 after the All-Star break, and will need to be able to flip the switch into overdrive now.
Houston qualified for the postseason for the fifth-straight year after a 95-67 record won it the AL West division crown. The Astros’ +205 run differential was the fourth-best in the league. The Astros are plenty experienced and have won at least one playoff round in each of the least four years.
The Astros won five of the seven games between these squads during the regular season, including a four-game sweep of the White Sox in Houston. Can Chicago flip the script in the postseason, or will the experienced Astros continue to have the edge?
Lynn, White Sox Offense Will Look To Turn It On
The White Sox elected to go with Lance Lynn (RHP) in Game 1 of the series. The 2021 All-Star has already won a World Series ring, back in 2011 with St. Louis. Lynn was terrific this season, going 11-6 with a 2.69 ERA — a career best — and a 3.32 FIP. Lynn did not pitch enough innings to qualify for the league ERA leaderboard, but he had the lowest ERA in the American League for any pitcher with 150 or more innings.
Lynn ranked in the top-five percent of the league by allowing just a .248 xwOBA. Lynn has a unique arsenal in that he basically just throws three variations of a fastball. His four-seamer has been lights out, allowing just a .186 batting average and generating a 35.6% strikeout rate, and he throws a cutter and sinker as well.
The South Side sluggers finished the season tied for fourth in wOBA and third in wRC+ and have one of the most dynamic lineups in the league. Over the second half of the season, they were treading water a bit, but still ranked ninth in wOBA and seventh in wRC+.
No player is more important to this Chicago lineup than Luis Robert. The star center fielder played just 68 games this season but finished with a .399 wOBA and 157 wRC+. Since returning from an injury in mid-August, Robert hit .350 with a 1.011 OPS.
Robert will be extra important, with José Abreu’s status in question. The reigning MVP will travel to Houston separate from the team and is questionable for Game 1 after battling flu-like symptoms.
Astros’ McCullers Solid; Offense Dominant
It is no surprise to anybody that Lance McCullers Jr. (RHP) will get the ball in Game 1. He has been Houston’s best pitcher all season, going 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA, the best mark of his career and second-lowest ERA in the American League this season.
Opponents managed just a .205 batting average and .628 OPS against McCullers, both the lowest in the American League. His main pitch has been his sinker, and his curveball and slider have both been phenomenal. Each breaking pitch is holding opponents under a .150 batting average with a Whiff% above 35%.
No team scored more runs this season than the Houston Astros. They finished first in wRC+ and second in wOBA on the season, and sat in the top three of each category for the entire season. The Astros put the ball in play more than any team, finishing with the league’s lowest strikeout rate.
Houston has an incredible seven players with a wRC+ over 115: Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman.
With all the big names in this lineup, it has surprisingly been Tucker who has led the way with a .383 wOBA and 147 wRC+ for the ‘stros. He hit .337 with a 1.081 OPS over the last month of the season.
White Sox-Astros Pick
This is going to be a long, exciting series between two really good teams, however I worry about the White Sox ability to flip the switch right away. Chicago has been in cruise control much of the season and I’m not sure this young bunch will just instantly flip the switch in a hostile environment.
The Astros swept the White Sox at home this season in dominating fashion, outscoring them 27-8. Lynn got lit up for six runs in four innings and has really struggled in Houston in his career, going 3-6 with a 4.92 ERA in nine starts. Altuve, Brantley, Bregman and Alvarez are all hitting over .380 with a wOBA over .430 against Lynn in their careers.
On the flip side, McCullers has made two starts against the White Sox this season, and went 2-0 and allowed just three runs and four hits over 13 innings, racking up 14 strikeouts. In six career starts he is 4-1 with a 2.17 ERA against Chicago.
As good as both these offenses are, Houston does have the edge at the plate. You can argue who has been the better pitcher this season, but McCullers has fared better in this matchup. Throw in Houston is at home and Abreu being questionable, and I have to back the Astros in Game 1.
They are -130 on FanDuel as of this writing, and I would play them down to -145, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this line moves in Houston’s favor as people bet the White Sox due to the unlikability factor of the Astros.
Pick: Houston Astros ML -130 (bet to -145)