While Jeff Samardzija of the White Sox and Jered Weaver of the Angels may not be where they were a few years ago, they could have enough left to go ‘under’ Wednesday.
Two struggling veterans are both capable of turning back the clock and keying an ‘under’ late Wednesday night on the West Coast when Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago White Sox (55-62, 25-34 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels (62-57, 38-23 home) in the third game of a four-game series from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA at 10:05 ET in a game available on Comcast SportsNet - Chicago.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 7½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -115.
Having Trouble Catching the Astros
Angels were chasing the Houston Astros for the entire first half of this season before finally overtaking Houston and taking over first place in the American League West the final day before the All-Star break. However, the Astros regained the division lead with a three-game sweep of these Angels a few weeks ago and Los Angeles has been treading water since, sitting 2½ game back in second place even after winning the first two games of this series.
Those first two series results now leave the White Sox as losing MLB picks in four of their last five games, a streak that began following a three-game sweep of these Angels back home in Chicago last week. The White Sox were expected to be improved this year, but they have been just minimally so relative to recent years and find themselves in fourth place in the American League Central at seven games under .500, a whopping 16½ games behind the first place Royals.
Samardzija Not as Good as Expected
One reason for the White Sox expected improvement in 2015 was supposed to be a better starting rotation, but the off-season addition Samardzija has disappointed going just 8-8 with a 4.78 ERA and he comes off of another tough outing vs. the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs getting roughed up for six runs on nine hits in six innings with three home runs allowed.
The long ball has been a problem for Samardzija as that brings his home runs allowed to 20 in 24 starts, but believe it or not the news is not entirely bad here. First, his command has still been good most of the time as he still owns a very good ratio of 120 strikeouts vs. 33 walks. That has contributed to a commendable 2.2 WAR, and further evidence that there is nothing wrong with his arm is that he has averaged 94.3 MPH with his fastball, right on par with past years.
Also, Samardzija is now facing an opponent that he has handled well in the past, allowing a grand total of one earned run and nine hits over 15 innings in his last two starts vs. the Angels, which both came last season while he was pitching for Oakland. And he now gets to face a Halos lineup that is in a collective batting slump, batting just .218 and averaging a scant 2.95 runs per game over the last 10 games.
Weaver Capable of Better Too
The veteran Weaver has been an even bigger disappointment with his 4-9 record and 4.60 ERA, although he does have a fairly good 1.21 WHIP. However, Weaver was unfortunate to lose to the Royals in Kansas City last time out as he allowed only two earned runs on four hits in six innings, marking the second consecutive start that he allowed exactly two earned runs.
Remember that Weaver has pitched just 107.2 innings this year, so his arm is still relatively fresh and those last two starts could mark the beginning of an upswing. After all, Weaver is a pitcher that will rarely beat himself as he has just 18 walks all year, and he has also allowed three runs or less in five of his last six career starts vs. the White Sox.
On top of that, Weaver may very well get some help here from a Chicago offense that is batting only .234 vs. right-handed pitchers over the last 10 games. And once Weaver is in need of relief, the Angels’ bullpen is better this season than in recent years and it has posted a respectable 3.19 ERA over 32 innings in the last 10 games.
Pitchers’ Park in Anaheim
And something else that may help both pitchers is Angel Stadium being a pronounced pitchers’ park, especially at night with the heavy air in Anaheim. The ‘under’ is 34-25-2 in this ballpark this season with an average score of 7.28 total runs. Also, the ‘under’ is 9-3 in Weaver’s last 12 starts vs. the White Sox, as well as 10-2 in the White Sox last 12 games vs. the American League West.
We look for both veteran pitchers to show what they are capable off and for those ‘under’ patterns to continue when Samardzija and the Chicago White Sox visit Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on Wednesday.
MLB Pick: White Sox, Angels ‘under’ 7½ (-115)