MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for White Sox vs. Rays: Which AL Contender Has Value in St. Petersburg? (Friday, August 20)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for White Sox vs. Rays: Which AL Contender Has Value in St. Petersburg? (Friday, August 20) article feature image
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Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images. Pictured: Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert

  • The White Sox and Rays open a three-game series on Friday night in St. Petersburg.
  • Lucas Giolito will take the ball for Chicago, opposed by Tampa's Michael Wacha.
  • D.J. James previews the matchup of AL titans and makes his betting pick below.

White Sox vs. Rays Odds

White Sox Odds -120
Rays Odds -100
Over/Under 9
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Thursday evening and via PointsBet.

The White Sox travel to Florida on Friday to take on Michael Wacha and the Tampa Bay Rays in a potential playoff preview.

Lucas Giolito throws for the South Siders and he’s coming off a couple short outings since the calendar turned to August. Wacha has also struggled mightily, giving up 18 earned runs in his last 14 innings.

With two of the best offenses and bullpens facing each other, who truly has the edge between the two?

Giolito A Volatile Starter For Sox

The White Sox dropped Thursday’s series finale but still won three of four against another contending team, the Athletics. Giolito’s last appearance was a four-inning battle with the New York Yankees.

Giolito has good peripherals this year and no notable home/road splits, but as good as he can be, he’s had a few different rough stretches this season. Here are his ERAs by month:

  • April: 5.68
  • May: 2.41
  • June: 4.06
  • July: 3.16
  • August: 5.06

Volatility seems to be a trend. Overall, though, he carved up the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers last month, so the strength of the team does not seem to bother him.

The White Sox added Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel to the roster to shore up a struggling back-end set of hurlers. The tides have seemed to turn, specifically in the last series. This is one of the most talented groups of bullpen arms in the MLB, and everyone is healthy.

The additions, as well as Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks combine to make up a unit that has had a 3.49 xFIP and 3.46 ERA since the deadline, which includes some struggles from both Hendriks and Kimbrel in the last couple of weeks.

The Sox have been getting great production from the top of the lineup in August. Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert have both been on fire since their respective returns. Missing Yasmani Grandal still hurts this offense, but he should be available in the next week. They are lucky to see Yoán Moncada return to normalcy during the series against the A’s. They need his offense down the stretch, since that was among the weaker parts of the order, since the start of July.

Rays Will Need Backup For Wacha

Wacha has struggled all season, but especially in the second half. He owns an 8.04 ERA with 44 hits allowed in only 28 innings in since the All-Star break. Good luck to him facing a lineup with Robert and Jiménez available again. There are not many indicators that his luck will suddenly turn around in this matchup.

The Rays have had one of the strongest bullpens in baseball all season, but they still have a few key injuries. Pete Fairbanks, Matt Wisler, Ryan Thompson and J.P. Feyereisen are all sidelined. This explains their 4.79 xFIP since the end of July. They do have enough artillery to back up Wacha in this matchup, but they will probably need all available arms in case he struggles against one of the league’s most prolific offenses.

The Rays’ offense added two power bats, one in Jordan Luplow (for facing lefties) and none other than Nelson Cruz. Cruz has been slumping, by his standards, since the trade deadline. His 96 wRC+ is below average and Luplow is on the injured list. They have not quite seen that boost just yet.

Outside of Luplow, their team is fully healthy, and it shows with Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino and Brett Phillips all clicking. Kevin Kiermaier, who is typically a defensive-first asset in the lineup, has been hot as well.

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White Sox-Rays Pick

Giolito is definitely the superior pitcher here, but his recent struggles concern me with a compact Rays lineup. With the revamped Chicago offense, there is no other way to go than over the team total. Take the White Sox over 4.5 runs (-110) and play to 5 (-130).

Pick: Chicago White Sox Team Total Over 4.5 (-110); play to 5 (-130)

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