Both the Orioles & White Sox start this series feeling awfully good after the weekend results which is something all MLB baseball handicappers and those surveying the betting odds have to consider.
Nevertheless, both are under .500 as the end of April approaches and whoever wins tonight will be at .500 and can truly look to build momentum, having won three in a row.
Both starting pitchers have ability, but they also have questions marks, making this one of tougher choices for MLB picks.
Chicago Starting to Match Expectations
Manager Robin Ventura was encouraged as spring training ended, as Chicago (8-9, -1.3 units) was playing well and thought his club might get off to fast start. Guess again. Instead, the White Sox labored the first two weeks of the season with a 3-6 record and they immediately fell behind Detroit and Kansas City who started completely the opposite.
However, the last week has brought change and Chicago has won four of six and took the series with the Royals, winning Friday’s suspended contest and regularly scheduled game on Sunday.
The ChiSox pitching has begun to come around having held eight of their last 11 opponents to three runs or fewer. The bullpen has been their savior, ranked fourth in ERA (2.84) and OBP allowed (.299) in spite of having tossed the most innings (100) in the AL.
If Chicago’s offense starts to do better than measly 3.5 runs per game, the White Sox could string together a batch of victories.
Baltimore’s Offense Blazing, but has Pitching Concerns
The Orioles (9-10, -0.9) have posted 49 hits in their last four games and scored 34 runs, yet Baltimore only went 2-2. Adam Jones (.403 BA, .450 OBP, 5 HR’s), Delmon Young (.368 BA, .400 OBP) and Caleb Joseph (.311 BA, .436 OBP) in particular are in a terrific groove and Chris Davis looks to be improved from a season ago.
The Orioles are the top scoring team in the big leagues at 5.5 runs per contest, so why are they a slightly below average take for sports picks? Baltimore is surrendering 5.4 runs per game, which is exactly how many Milwaukee is conceding, which tells you their offense is bailing them out.
Buck Showalter has not easy fix other than his staff just executing better, since they are 14th in starting pitcher ERA (5.42) and 14th in bullpen earned run average (4.48) which adds up to the worst ERA in the junior circuit at 5.04.
The offense will slow eventually, which leads to tonight’s starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 2.30 ERA) throwing a good game if the O’s are to win three straight.
Pitching Matchup – Noesi vs. Jimenez
Hector Noesi (0-2, 5.23) has lost his past five decisions dating back to last year and his last victory came on Aug. 27th against Cleveland, seven starts ago. Noesi is simply not fooling batters; with 28 hits allowed over 29 innings and more importantly 14 walks are included in their period. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA in four starts against Baltimore.
The often erratic Jimenez has not pitched poorly thus far and has 16 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings, allowing just seven hits. But as is always the case the right-hander and his lots of moving parts delivery, he’s given up seven walks in those innings thrown and though the hit total is exceptional, two balls went over the fence. Jimenez is 2-5 (Team’s record is 5-5) with a 5.01 ERA against Chicago.
Chicago’s Jose Abreu is batting .424 with three homers and 12 RBI’s on an eight-game hitting streak.
Besides how hot he’s been, Adam Jones is 6 for 10 with two home runs versus Noesi.
The Birds Delmon Young is 13 for 29 in his last eight games and he's hitting at a .333 clip against the White Sox, which is his best average versus any team he has at least 50 career at-bats against.
You want to play like the fantasy pros, stacking your lineup against a below average pitcher is a great tack as Baltimore is batting .310 and averaging 6.11 runs in their past nine outings.
Odds and Outcome
MLB odds initially had Baltimore at -160 with a total of 8.5, but that since fallen to -145 on the money. If the White Sox Noesi was in better form, the Pale Hose might be worth a look, but with his problems and Chicago not traveling well initially with a 22-42 mark after five or more consecutive home games the last three seasons, I will back the Birds with my MLB pick.
MLB Free Pick – Baltimore wins (-141 at 5Dimes)