A battle between division leaders begins on Friday night when the White Sox take on the Rays in the opener of a three-game set in Tampa. Let’s analyze this matchup and find the sharp side in our MLB picks tonight!
Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Friday, August 20, 2021 – 7:10 PM ET at Tropicana Field
The White Sox were poised for a four-game sweep of the Athletics on Thursday but Matt Chapman tied the score at three apiece with a solo shot in the top of the sixth inning before Matt Olson went yard for a two-run bomb an inning later to seal a 5-4 victory for Oakland.
Andrew Vaughn had a two-run blast for the White Sox while starter Dylan Cease worked six innings and allowed three runs on four hits before righty reliever, Michael Kopech, took over in the seventh and got tagged for a pair of runs, as well as the loss.
“It wasn’t great, but I kept us in it,” Cease said. “That helps you swallow one like that a little bit easier. But at the end of the day, losing is not fun, so it’s not much of a consolation prize.”
And while the White Sox were losing to the A’s, the Rays were busy putting the finishing touches on a four-game sweep of the lowly Orioles in a 7-2 Thursday night victory. The Rays have destroyed the O’s this season, winning 15 of 16 games, and are now 11-3 over their last 14 contests.
Second baseman, Brandon Lowe, continues to crush the ball, belting his 29th home run of the season on Thursday night, a career-high, and there are still six weeks left in the regular season.
“This is going to be kind of what we’re looking at postseason-wise, I feel like,” Lowe said. “You know the White Sox are going to make it, we feel like we’re going to make it. I think the games are going to be a little bit tougher, it’s going to be a little bit lower-scoring ballgames but it’s going to be a hard-fought battle for the whole series.”
Chicago will send right-hander Lucas Giolito (9-9, 3.83 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 161 strikeouts) to the hill tonight in hopes that he can improve upon his most recent outing when he lasted only four innings and surrendered three runs on six hits in a 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Sunday. The 27-year-old native of Santa Monica has faced the Rays only once this season and it resulted in an 8-7 extra-innings victory in which he worked six full innings and allowed three runs on four hits back in mid-June.
The Rays will counter with a righty of their own in Michael Wacha (2-4, 5.91 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 76 strikeouts) who last took the mound on Saturday in a performance he would rather forget. The 30-year-old veteran was torched for seven runs on 11 hits in a 12-0 thrashing by the Twins. Wacha has to meet the White Sox lineup this season.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The MLB odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are showing the White Sox ranging between -118 to -130 favorites and it’s easy to see why. The longtime St. Louis Cardinal, Michael Wacha, has been a mess in the month of August as evidenced by his 11.57 ERA in his three appearances.
It’s hard to have faith in a pitcher that is melting like butter in a blast furnace each time he takes the mound. And what’s even more astounding is that his manager, Kevin Cash, is letting him stay in the game even when he’s getting lit up like a Christmas tree. Over his three ignominious performances this month, he has worked four, five, and five innings in games where most managers would have pulled the plug much earlier.
Therefore, it’s understandable that Wacha’s mental state heading into a game against one of the very best teams in the league might not be all that good. Chicago is seventh in runs scored and batting average while ranked fourth in on-base percentage. Not the team you want to meet if you’re mechanics aren’t working.
Let’s lay the lumber with the road chalk and cash a ticket tonight!
Free MLB Pick: White Sox -118 at SugarHouse