Both the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox are 1-4 to start the 2015 regular season. They play the rubber game of their series this Sunday at New Comiskey, with the MLB odds in Chicago’s favor.
Jason's 2015 moneyline record as of Apr. 10: 3-3, minus-0.55 units
Ah, the glorious AL Central Division. The Minnesota Twins used to run the place back in the aughts, but they’ve finished at or near the bottom of the division in each of the past four seasons. The Chicago White Sox have had their moments, too, but they haven’t made it out of the Central since 2008. Will they end up battling for last place again this year?
The MLB odds think so. The Twins are second last at 100-1 on the World Series futures market at Bovada; the White Sox are much better at 25-1, but that’s still below the Detroit Tigers (12-1), the Kansas City Royals (22-1) and the Cleveland Indians (22-1). Fittingly enough, Minnesota and Chicago are already tied for last this year after getting swept in their season-opening series. They’ve split the first two of their current three-game set, with the finale coming up Sunday afternoon (2:10 p.m. ET) at New Comiskey. The White Sox are –165 favorites on the MLB odds board as we go to press.
Sale for Sale
That’s a fair bit of chalk for the Pale Hose to ingest, but they’ve got Chris Sale (2.57 FIP last year) due to take the mound. Sale is a three-time All-Star and a regular fixture on the Cy Young voting list, finishing third last year behind Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez. But the White Sox could only manage 1.11 units of profit in his 26 starts last year on a team record of 15-11. That was despite ranking No. 10 in the majors with a .708 team OPS.
How did this come to be? Well, Chicago posted a minus-10.5 UBR (Ultimate Base Running), easily the worst in the bigs. They were No. 19 in stolen bases (85) and stolen base percentage (70.25), and they were fifth in strikeouts, exhibiting some really bad plate discipline by swinging at 33.6 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, or No. 26 overall. The White Sox scored two runs or fewer in nine of Sale’s 26 appearances. Not good.
The Twins had better hitting (.713 team OPS), as well as better discipline both at the plate and on the base paths. But pitching wasn’t the forte of either of these two clubs. Minnesota was No. 28 overall last year with just 9.7 WAR from the mound; Sunday’s starter, Phil Hughes, was easily the best of the bunch with a 2.65 FIP, and the Twins didn’t waste his efforts, racking up 12.01 units of profit on a team record of 20-12.
Unfortunately for Hughes, the Twins decided to sign Torii Hunter to play in right field, even though he’s about to turn 40 and has deteriorated in all aspects of the sport. After five games this year: 2-for-17 with four strikeouts. And Danny Santana (3.3 WAR) is bound to regress after a ridiculous .405 BABIP in his rookie campaign. He’s 2-for-16 with five K’s. For that matter, Hughes isn’t likely to repeat his record-breaking 11.6 strikeout/walk ratio.
Sunday is going to be Sale’s season debut; he didn’t pitch at all in spring training after suffering an avulsion fracture in his right foot. The White Sox also used closer David Robertson in Saturday’s 5-4 win over Minnesota (+140 away). So this might be a good spot to scoop up a Chicago reliever and try to add to your MLB picks hold total, with the possibility of a vampire save thrown in. This would normally be Zach Putnam territory, but beware: He’s off to a bad start this year with four earned runs allowed in two innings of work. Putnam is just 2% owned at Yahoo as we go to press.
Free MLB Pick: Take the White Sox at The Greek