Sunday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for White Sox vs. Rays: How to Bet Chris Archer’s Return (August 22)
Julio Aguilar / Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Archer
- The Tampa Bay Rays host the Chicago White Sox in Sunday's Major League Baseball matchup between AL division leaders.
- Rays starter Chris Archer makes his return to the mound after four months of rehab due to forearm stiffness.
- Analyst Kenny Ducey breaks down the matchup below and delivers his top pick.
White Sox vs. Rays Odds
|White Sox Odds
|1:10 p.m. ET
|Odds as Sunday morning via DraftKings.
A former ace and a former enticing prospect go head-to-head in Tampa Bay on Sunday when Chris Archer does battle with Reynaldo Lopez as the Rays try to fend off a charge from the Yankees in the AL East.
The Rays have won seven out of their last 10, doing well to keep pace, but they split the first two games of this series and are in danger of cooling off at the worst time.
Is there an edge here on a pitching matchup that looks incredibly even? Let's unpack this matchup by looking at the numbers below.
Chicago Continuing Its Dominance This Season
Let's begin with the White Sox here, who have little to worry about at the moment with an 10 1/2-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. Things were already looking good, then Chicago got its two best bats back in the lineup when Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert returned.
Still without the services of Yasmani Grandal, this offense is showing what it can do and looks imposing to opposing pitchers. Even without much motivation with a comfortable lead, the White Sox have still won six of their last eight with an impressive .802 OPS over the last two weeks.
With little to worry about on that front, I want to turn our attention to Sunday's starter, Reynaldo Lopez. The righty was once upon a time a rising star in the Nationals organization before being sent over in the Lucas Giolito deal. He has honed that impressive fastball and secondary stuff out of the bullpen this season, posting a 1.08 ERA in eight relief appearances and three starts, spanning 28 innings.
Reynaldo Lopez last year: 6.49 ERA in 26.1 IP
Reynaldo Lopez this year: 1.08 ERA in 28 IP
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) August 18, 2021
Lopez has his strikeout rate up near 29% and should be somewhat dangerous against a Rays team that carries a 22.9% strikeout rate over the last two weeks into this game. His last two starts have produced eight scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.
Tampa Bay Bats Come Alive in Recent Stretch
Those aforementioned Rays have done a whole lot at the plate over the last two weeks, ranking second in the league with a .847 OPS, thanks to a multitude of huge nights at the plate (including a four-game sweep of the Orioles where they totaled 34 runs). It's an imposing lineup, and one which is rapidly improving in every area it had previously struggled, like against lefties.
In another throwback, Chris Archer is the probable starter for Tampa Bay, creating a matchup that would have been fun about five years ago. If you're surprised to see Archer's name, I'll give you the short rundown of what's going on with him. The 32-year-old made two starts in April before being shelved due to forearm tightness.
This wasn't supposed to keep him out long, but it wound up vaulting him into a four-month rehab. Then, he finally went out on assignment only to exit with hip soreness. His second rehab outing went well, though, and now he's in the big-league rotation.
It's hard to gauge how Archer's going to do in this one with so little to work off, but it does appear he'll be more than just an opener here with 77 pitches in his last rehab start. We do know that he was touched up for three runs in two innings against the Marlins earlier this year, then shut down the Yankees over 2 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.
Given his 5.41 xERA the last time we saw him in 2019, I wouldn't expect a return to the form we once saw.
White Sox-Rays Pick
The Rays have done well to maintain a four-game lead over the Yankees with some superb hitting, but I think they'll continue to find it difficult to out-slug the White Sox. That should be particularly hard with the surprising Reynaldo Lopez tilting the starting pitching matchup towards the White Sox.
I trust in his stuff and believe in his beginning to the season, and I don't think Archer will be able to get many outs at all against some of the best bats in the big-leagues. This is a steal.
Pick: White Sox ML (+105)