MLB Picks: Salazar Outclasses Competition In Indians vs. White Sox

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, June 18, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Saturday, Jun. 18, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

The Indians look to extend their lead in the AL Central as the White Sox limp into town for a weekend series. We spot value on both the side and total for your MLB Picks.

In one of the most hotly contested divisions in baseball the Chicago White Sox visit the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians in a weekend series that could flip the standing four places. Both teams are coming off of 4-6 stretches and had much needed days off on Thursday coming into the series.

Slated to start for the Chicago White Sox is newcomer James Shields, who escaped San Diego earlier in the month, but may want to go back after his first two starts with the White Sox. In two starts with the pale hose, Shields has given up ‘only’ 13 earned runs in 7.0 innings pitched. Since moving to the Padres in 2015, Shields’ walk rate is up, his home runs allowed is up, his control is worse, and his ERA has shot to the moon. Coinciding with all of these things is a serious drop in velocity, which continued into this season. Not wanting to throw strikes with slower pitches, Shields has avoided the strike zone. Unfortunately, batters aren’t chasing the junk. That leads to pitches forced into the middle of the plate, and then dingers.

Shields move to the White Sox is even more frightening when looking at the home run rates allowed in each of the parks he was pitching in. Petco Park in San Diego suppressed home runs, while U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago increases home run rates by about 8%. Not good when you have given up 6 home runs in your last 9.2 innings pitched. Shields is getting abused on both sides of the plate as well, as left handers are batting an absurd .313 off of him with 6 HR’s, and right handers are batting .272 with 7 HR’s. On the year, Shields has posted a 2-8 record, 5.45 ERA, 60/33 K/BB rate, 1.60 WHIP, and .292 batting average against. Things aren’t looking so hot for Shields right now, which is why the Padres were willing to eat some of his salary to make him go away.

Starting for the Cleveland Indians is Danny Salazar, who is in the midst of a stretch of pitching that looks quite different than James Shields. Salazar has won his last three starts, giving up just 4 earned runs in 19.2 innings pitched. On the season, he has posted a 7-3 record, 2.19 ERA, 89/37 K/BB rate, 1.14 WHIP, and a .180 batting average against. That batting average against number is 4th in the MLB, behind only Marco Estrada, Clayton Kershaw, and Jake Arrieta. Salazar is especially tough on left handers, who are batting just .144 against him in 2016. Expect Adam Eaton to see the bench in this game for the White Sox, but the rest of the White Sox lineup is righty heavy. Of course, right handers are only batting .210 off of Salazar this year so not much help there.

Coming into this series, Cleveland has mashed at home and gone 17-12 SU and 20-8 O-U. The White Sox have also hit well away from home and are 18-12 O-U. With Shields on the mound and the weather to be hot and sunny, I expect more dingers to be hit from Cleveland in this game and for them to match or exceed their 5.4 runs per game home mark. And I trust Salazar in this spot much more than Shields at the moment. I think there is value in both plays on the MLB Odds, and will be juicing up the proposition by parlaying the Over with Cleveland on the moneyline as my Saturday MLB Pick.

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Free MLB Pick:  Indians -186 & Over 8½ +104
Best Line Offered:  at BetOnline & Pinnacle
MLB Record: 26-11-2, +14.69 Units

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