White Sox vs. Tigers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Detroit Deserves Respect vs. Chicago (Friday, July 2)
Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox and Willi Castro #9 of the Detroit Tigers.
- The Chicago White Sox are riding a five-game winning streak heading into Friday's matchup with the Detroit Tigers.
- Unsurprisingly, the Tigers are once again home underdogs with a moneyline price of around +130 around the bettting market.
- MLB betting analyst Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup in order to evaluate whether Chicago is a no-brainer pick on Friday evening, or if Detroit is undervalued as a home underdog.
White Sox vs. Tigers Odds
|White Sox Odds||-152|
|Over/Under||8.5 (-108 / -113)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday morning and via DraftKings.|
The American League Central is one of the least interesting divisions in baseball. The Chicago White Sox are clearly the class of the division, and only the injury-rattled Indians have a shot at catching them. Everyone else’s MLB playoff hopes have been dashed.
But inter-divisional rivalries are still entertaining. The White Sox opened as large favorites, but we shouldn’t dismiss the Tigers — especially following their recent stretch of play.
Let’s examine where the value lies in this AL Central series opener.
Chicago White Sox
The Southsiders have been slumping lately.
It might be odd to say Chicago is in a slump given that the team has won five consecutive games. However, prior to that recent stretch, the White Sox had lost eight of their last 11 contests. Since June 14, Chicago’s vaunted offense has posted just a .675 OPS and a .295 wOBA; both of those statistical marks rank rank 24th in MLB during that span.
Plus, the pitching staff hasn’t helped much. During that same timeframe, the White Sox staff has posted a 4.76 FIP and a 1.38 WHIP. And, precisely like the offense’s OPS (.675) and wOBA (.295), the team’s pitching stats also rank 24th in MLB since June 14.
All-in-all, seems like the White Sox have been MLB’s 24th-best team in the second half of June.
But, if I was a White Sox fan, I wouldn’t complain. The team is 16 games above .500 with a 4.5-game lead in a fairly weak division. Chicago’s roster is arguably the deepest in the American League; the pitching rotation, bullpen and batting lineup are each loaded with talent.
… On second thought, I probably would have some gripes with the team. In particular, I’ve identified three things I’d complain about:
- The team’s home/road splits: The White Sox are 30-13 at home this season but just 17-18 on the road. However, it’s worth mentioning that the White Sox home/road wRC+ and FIP have been fairly similar, and Chicago reports a +27 run differential on the road. I’d expect some more away wins in the second half of the season.
- Chicago’s record vs. winning teams: The White Sox have posted just a 14-20 record against teams with a .500 record or better this season. To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the White Sox just got destroyed by the Astros.
- The White Sox defense: Chicago ranks 22nd in defensive runs saved this season (-5).
Starting pitcher: Lance Lynn (RHP)
After a June 9 start against Toronto in which Lynn pitched seven innings and allowed one run, Lynn was pacing the American League with a 1.23 ERA.
Unfortunately, during his following two starts against the Rays and Astros, Lynn allowed nine earned runs over 10 innings. That shot his ERA up by nearly a full point to 2.14, and his WHIP increased from 0.88 to 1.00.
However, unless your name is Jacob deGrom, most pitchers will inevitably have a few tough starts, and their numbers will regress closer to league average. Lynn’s recent stretch doesn’t mean that he is having a bad season. In fact, Lynn’s having a career year.
Lynn pairs a 2.06 ERA with a 2.79 xERA, 3.11 FIP and 1.00 WHIP — all stats that rank among the best starting pitchers in the game.
Furthermore, this season isn’t an anomaly: Lynn’s ascension to becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball began in 2019. Since then, Lynn trails only deGrom, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber and Max Scherzer in WAR.
Lynn’s increase in productivity is directly related to the increase in his cutter usage. Since he began throwing his cutter more frequently, no pitcher in baseball has relied as heavily on fastball pitches than Lynn has. He throws his four-seam, sinker and cutter more than 92% of the time.
And, as you can see below, the increase in fastball use has directly corresponded with a rapid decrease in xwOBA allowed on fastballs thrown.
Yet, despite his impressive pitching, the White Sox have lost four straight Lynn starts. However, that has more to do with the team’s offensive performance rather than Lynn’s pitching.
It doesn’t always feel like it — and the season-long stats won’t tell you this — but this might be the most talented Tigers team in years.
After posting an 8-19 record in April, Detroit is 28-26 since May 1. Plus, Detroit has won seven of its last 10 contests. For a team that finished 53.5 games back in the division in 2019, that’s a pretty impressive stretch of play.
Scratch that absolutely horrid start, during which Detroit posted a -58 run differential, and the Tigers have essentially been an average Major League team. Since May 1, Detroit has posted a perfectly league-average 100 wRC+ while accumulating a barely-below-average 4.33 FIP. Again — not a small feat for a team that lost 114 games two seasons ago.
Detroit’s poor play in April continues to weigh down the team’s overall numbers this season. But that also means that the Tigers have become somewhat undervalued — and even profitable.
In fact, If you had bet $100 on every Tigers moneyline this season, you would be up $640 — making Detroit the sixth-most profitable team in the Majors.
This has been especially true at home. Detroit continues to draw high plus-money odds at home even though the team has a respectable win-loss record of 19-21 at Comerica this season.
Therefore, if you had bet $100 on every Tigers home moneyline this season, you would be up $394 — making Detroit the fourth-most profitable home team in the American League.
Finally, if you had bet $100 on every Tigers moneyline since they started playing “league-average” on May 1, you would be having a great summer.
Starting pitcher: Casey Mize (RHP)
Like many Tigers pitchers, Mize is a softer-throwing fastball pitcher who has done a pretty good job of keeping his exit velocity down. Mize’s emphasis to suppress his average exit velocity below 88 miles per hour has helped him accumulate a 3.46 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Plus, the Tigers are a remarkable 9-6 in his starts this season while Mize paces the team in WAR (2.7).
However, the rest of Mize’s stats are troubling. Frankly, he’s been one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball: He pairs his 3.46 ERA with a 5.07 Expected ERA (xERA) and 4.65 FIP.
Mize’s ERA vs. xERA differential (-1.61) is the 25th-largest discrepancy among qualified pitchers this season.
Mize has a relatively low whiff rate and strikeout rate; thus, he frequently pitches to contact. Luckily for Mize, he has only posted a .245 BABIP on the year (a seemingly impossible statistic given Detroit’s defensive woes).
Nonetheless, he still allows a hard-hit rate over 42% and a barrel rate around 10%. That helps explain why his Expected wOBA (xwOBA) is about 50 points higher than his actual wOBA.
All-in-all, I’m expecting a lot more of Mize’s pitches to result in hits and runs as the season progresses.
However, Mize’s four-seamer doesn’t seem to be the issue. Based on a sample of nearly 400 four-seamers thrown this season, the difference between Mize’s expected statistics (.218 xBA, .350 xwOBA) and actual statistics (.213 BA, .353 wOBA) has been negligible.
Instead, Mize’s secondary stuff has been the true culprit. Here’s the difference between Mize’s wOBA and xwOBA on his four other pitches:
White Sox vs. Tigers Pick
The books opened with Detroit as a +150 underdog. However, as we’ve tracked sharp money coming in the Tigers, the line has quickly moved in their direction.
I’m inclined to follow the smart money. The Tigers clearly present the most value at plus odds, and the team’s home/away money splits reinforce this line of thinking:
Detroit Tigers Home vs. Away ATS Splits
Additionally, these two teams are currently headed in vastly different directions — and Detroit has all the momentum entering this series. Granted, the White Sox offense has flailed during the second half of June, but the Tigers still boast the ninth-best OPS (.783) and wOBA (.340) during that stretch.
Meanwhile, the White Sox’s usually impressive bullpen has been awful recently, posting the second-worst FIP over the past week (7.94). In contrast, the Tigers bullpen — which is usually terrible — has posted the seventh-best FIP during that stretch (3.21).
And finally, the starting pitching battle favors Chicago, but Mize has been the most profitable starting pitcher in the Majors this season. A $100 bettor would be up over nine units betting the Tigers in every one of his starts.
There’s nothing I love more than betting home dogs. So, I’ll back the Tigers on the moneyline, which I like down to +130.
Pick: Tigers ML (+135 | Play to +130)