#915 Chicago White Soxvs.#916 Toronto Blue Jays
Written by Matt Severance
Chicago White Sox (29-36, 31-31-3 O/U) at Toronto Blue Jays (32-33, 30-31-4 O/U)
When/Where: Saturday, 1:07 p.m. ET, Rogers Centre, Toronto
Moneylines: Blue Jays -230, White Sox +212; total: 9
It’s Game 2 of a three-game set north of the border on Saturday afternoon – your first MLB betting option of the day – as the Toronto Blue Jays host the Chicago White Sox. It’s another showcase for a pitcher the White Sox are hoping to trade for a prospect or two.
Toronto was clearly a better team than Chicago last year, with the Jays reaching the ALCS, but the White Sox won five of the six meetings, including a sweep at Rogers Centre. It was Chicago’s first sweep in Toronto since May 2005. It was also the first three-game sweep by ant visitor at Toronto since the Los Angeles Angels from Sept. 10-12, 2013. But that was real early in the year when the Pale Hose were playing like the American League’s best team. That feels like forever ago now with Chris Sale long gone and the Pale Hose in full rebuild mode. Last year against Blue Jays pitching, Avisail Garcia, who has been easily the White Sox’s best hitter this year, was 6-for-15 with a homer and four RBIs in four games. Todd Frazier was 8-for-23 with five RBIs. Former Blue Jay Melky Cabrera was 8-for-24 with a homer and two RBIs. Adam Eaton also hit well but he’s now in Washington (and hurt). Jose Abreu was just 4-for-22 with five strikeouts.
Mike Pelfrey was released by Detroit on the eve of the season and the White Sox scooped the veteran right-hander up in the hopes he could be good for a few months and the team could flip him to a contender. That might actually work with Pelfrey (2-5) having a solid 3.81 ERA. Pelfrey pitched an inning of relief on Wednesday vs. Baltimore, not allowing a run and striking out one. He still should be fine to go here because that’s basically like a bullpen session a few days before a start. In his past four starts, Pelfrey hasn’t allowed more than two earned in any but also hasn’t gone more than 5.1 innings. Length has clearly been an issue for him as he’s allowing opponents to have a 1.416 OPS his third time through the order.
This could be an important series for Toronto. The Jays started the season 6-17 but could get over .500 for the first time with a victory in Friday’s opener and then here. One huge bright spot this year has been young closer Roberto Osuna. In Wednesday’s home win over Tampa Bay, he earned his 17th save of the season — and 16th in a row, the longest active streak in the majors. Osuna’s career-best 34.7 percent strikeout rate is Top 10 among AL relievers with as many innings pitched. With just two walks allowed in 28 innings pitched, Osuna is No. 1 among relievers in walk rate. He’s also allowed just six extra-base hits. Setup man Joe Smith also had been spectacular this season but allowed three runs in his one inning vs. the Rays – yet came away with the win. He has struck out 47 in 31.2 innings and walked only eight with 11 holds. Before Wednesday, he hadn’t allowed a run since May 26.
It’s Marcus Stroman (7-2, 3.09) on the mound for Toronto. He’s Top 10 in the AL in wins, innings (81.2), ERA and complete games (2). Stroman hasn’t allowed more than two earned in each of his past three. He pitched in Seattle last Saturday and allowed one earned and six hits over seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Dating back to April 23, the right-hander is 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 61.2 innings. Stroman is a sinker-baller, getting 15 ground-ball outs against Seattle, for example. His 8.8 percent ground ball rate on his sinker this season is second among starters only to Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova. Stroman’s 16.1 percent strike rate (both swinging and called strikes) on his sinker is sixth. He hasn’t lost since April 18 and has been a rock in an injury-plagued rotation.
Last year, Stroman struggled vs. the White Sox, going 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts. Cabrera is 4-for-6 career off him. Garcia is 2-for-3 with a double. Abreu is 2-for-10 with two RBIs. Pelfrey faced the Jays once in 2016 while with Detroit and it was one of his few good starts, allowing one run in six innings but taking the loss. Troy Tulowitzki is 8-for-23 off him with a homer. Josh Donaldson has a dinger in seven at-bats against Pelfrey. Can’t bet against Stroman at home. The run line is better value at -120.
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Matt has been a sports journalist for nearly two decades. He is a former sports editor/writer at two newspapers and a magazine. Went full-time freelance sports writer in 2008 -- not by choice then but became a life-changing decision in the best possible way. Consider myself expert on all major US sports. If you are looking for Curling or Badminton expertise, etc., I'm not your guy.