Low Totals Behind Rays' Archer Vs. White Sox

chris archer

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 2:53 PM GMT

The White Sox have lost five in a row. The Rays have lost three straight. Yet one of these teams will have to win when they meet at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay ran into a hot Seattle team over the weekend as the Rays were outscored 28-7 in the sweep. They will be ecstatic to return home, where their record is 16-13. The hitter most worth mentioning is Kevin Kiermaier, who is batting batter than .300 in his last 10 games and is 5-for-11 lifetime vs. White Sox starter Jose Quintana with two doubles. Chicago was swept over the weekend in Detroit by a combined score of 32-10.

 

Probable Pitchers

The biggest problem with the White Sox has been their starting pitching. Quintana (2-7 5.60 ERA) takes the mound tonight, although he doesn’t inspire too much hope. Quintana has been struggling with his mechanics, as he has given up 15 runs in his past seven innings. As long as he is altering his mechanics, we can’t expect him to do well against a Tampa Bay lineup that is at its strongest in the initial innings. In innings 1-3, Tampa Bay’s BA is .274 and its OPS is .849, compared to an average .234 and .712 in innings 4-6. I expect them to be ready to pounce on an uncertain Quintana.  As expected of a pitcher who is struggling to find his groove, the lefty is struggling most at the start of games. In innings 1-3 opposing batters are hitting .293 and .870 OPS against him. Quintana produced quality outings in both of his starts against Tampa Bay last year because he matches up fairly well against the Rays as a southpaw. But he is not trustworthy without confidence in his mechanics.

But there is hardly a pitcher worth trusting more than Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer (4-3 3.74 ERA). In his last outing, he gave up four runs in seven innings against Texas, but his 1.91 FIP suggests that he actually pitched a very solid game but was just unlucky. FIP is basically a more honest calculation of a pitcher’s performance than ERA. When Kansas City's Brandon Moss barely made contact with Astros pitcher Mike Fiers’ breaking ball on Monday and it miraculously blooped inside fair territory in that perfect spot away from the Astros’ fielders, that hurt Fiers’ ERA but not his FIP.

I expect Archer to bounce back at home, where his FIP this season is 1.65, compared to 3.84 on the road. Archer’s FIP is under 2 when he faces opposing batters for the first and second time. He also matches up optimally well against the White Sox as a right-handed power pitcher who induces a mix of fly balls and ground balls. Against right-handers, the White Sox's OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage; around .730 is considered average) is .681 compared to .815 against left-handers.  Against power pitchers, the White Sox’ OPS is .612 compared to .811 vs finesse.  Against fly ball/ground ball pitchers the White Sox’ OPS is only .640. Archer matches up very well here.

In our MLB picks, Archer will look to bounce back in his favorite park, which is the nightmare ballpark of the White Sox lineup because they are very righty-heavy. Right-handed batters really struggle in Tropicana Field. Last year, for instance, in three games in the Trop right-handed White Sox batters managed an OPS of just .437, while the OPS of left-handed batters was .554. In Tropicana Field, the White Sox are truly handicapped.
 

The Verdict

The Rays have been strong starters and the White Sox have grown notorious for their late-inning magic. Quintana is figuring things out mechanically and is really struggling when he faces opposing batters for his first and second times. Archer, meanwhile, tends to have issues against batters when he faces them a third time. I expect a strong bounce-back effort from Archer, and I think that the Rays produce enough runs against Quintana. Both teams enjoy solid bullpens, as measured by FIP and number of innings pitched. So I am backing two plays tonight.

MLB Free Pick: Rays 1st 5 Innings & Sox 'Under'Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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