A pair of AL Central rivals lock up in the opening game of a weekend set on the diamond on the shores of Lake Erie. The Chicago White Sox are on the road as they kick off a three-game series with the Cleveland Guardians Friday night. Chicago closed a four-game series at home with Houston Thursday afternoon: they were beaten 3-2 on Wednesday night. Cleveland split a four-game series at home against Detroit as they rallied for an 8-4 triumph Wednesday night in the series finale. In the season series, the Guardians own an 8-5 advantage, though the teams split a four-game set in the Windy City July 22-24. This article was published prior to the conclusion of Chicago’s series finale Thursday afternoon.
Chicago White Sox Trying to Gain Ground in AL CentralChicago won the first two games of the series against Houston before coming up short Wednesday night. The White Sox entered Thursday third in the AL Central, two games behind the Guardians for the top spot in the division race. In the AL wild-card picture, the team was two games behind the Blue Jays and Rays, who were tied for the final two wild card spots. On Wednesday, Chicago got two hits from Jose Abreu (run) but he was the only player to record multiple hits. The White Sox bounced into three double plays and went one of eight with runners in scoring position. Michael Kopech (4-9) turned in a quality start but took the loss as he allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts over six innings of work.
Lance Lynn is on the mound for the White Sox as he makes his 13th start of the season in this contest. He is 3-5 with a 5.62 ERA, a 1.249 WHIP, 11 walks and 69 strikeouts over 65.2 innings of work this year. Lynn earned the win in his last start, which came Sunday against the Tigers at home. He threw five innings, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in a 5-3 White Sox triumph. In his last three starts, Lynn is 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP, one walk and 20 strikeouts over 18 innings of work. Lynn makes his 11th career start against the Guardians in this contest. He comes in 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, 18 walks and 65 strikeouts over 58 innings of work against them. Lynn is 1-3 with a 5.87 ERA, a 1.435 WHIP, nine walks and 26 strikeouts over 23 innings in four career starts at Progressive Field.
Guardians Looking to Extend Edge in AL Central RaceCleveland bounced back as they rallied late to win against Detroit to split that four-game set. The Guardians entered Thursday holding a narrow one-game lead over Minnesota for the top spot in the AL Central race. On Wednesday, Cleveland scored six runs in the eighth to rally for the win. Andres Gimenez (run), Oscar Gonzalez (run, two RBI) and Steven Kwan (run, RBI) each had two hits in the victory. Cal Quantrill didn’t factor in the decision as he allowed four runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts over six innings of work. Bryan Shaw (6-2) threw one pitch to get the final out of the eighth to earn the win in relief.
Triston McKenzie is on the hill for the Guardians as he logs his 23rd appearance and 22nd start of the season in this contest. He comes in 8-9 with a 3.14 ERA, a 0.965 WHIP, 35 walks and 124 strikeouts over 134.2 innings of work on the year. McKenzie took the tough loss in his last start, which came against the Blue Jays on the road Saturday. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in a 2-1 Guardians defeat. In his last three starts, McKenzie is 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP, five walks and 18 strikeouts over 20.2 innings of work. McKenzie makes his ninth career appearance and eighth start against the White Sox in this contest. He is 0-2 with a 7.28 ERA, a 1.416 WHIP, 20 walks and 38 strikeouts over 29.2 innings of work. McKenzie is 6-6 with a 3.84 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, 43 walks and 146 strikeouts over 122 innings of work in 24 career appearances, 21 starts, at Progressive Field.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Cleveland pushed to the top spot in the AL Central on the strength of their return to form from their rotation. The Guardians have a solid group with Shane Bieber, McKenzie, Quantrill and the snakebit Zach Plesac that could make them tough in the postseason. Lynn has struggled mightily this season and hasn’t lived up to what the White Sox were hoping to get from him. He’s been absolutely brutal on the road, going 0-3 with a 7.46 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP over 25.1 innings in five starts. McKenzie has pitched well at home, going 4-2 with a 2.81 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP over 51.1 innings this season. The Guardians had Thursday off, giving their bullpen a break, while the White Sox saw Lucas Giolito get shelled early Thursday, putting their bullpen into the game early. Look for the Guardians to take advantage to earn the victory here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Chicago entered Thursday having seen the under posting a 59-53-7 mark in their 119 games this season. The White Sox have put up an average of 4.24 runs per game on the year, which is 18th in the majors, and that number trends up slightly to 4.34 runs per game on the road. Their average total on the season is 8.58 runs per game and that drops to 8.05 runs per game on the road. Cleveland has seen the over post a 57-55-6 mark going into Thursday’s action. The Guardians are 16th in runs per game with 4.37 per contest, though that number edges down slightly to 4.18 runs per game at home. Cleveland has an average total of 8.50 runs per contest, a number that slides down to 8.29 runs per game at Progressive Field. Even if Lynn struggles, you have to think McKenzie shakes off his issues with the White Sox and keeps this one under the number.