The White Sox won the opener of a Second City series Friday as nice dogs, and Chris Sale might go off as a dog Saturday, too, against Jon Lester.
Sox-Cubs Saturday Betting Odds
In the early betting action the best price we could find on the Cubs and Jon Lester was the -107 offered at 5Dimes, while the Sox and fellow lefty Chris Sale were getting +103 at BetOnline.
The White Sox grabbed the opener of this series Friday afternoon 1-0, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth. They also turned five double plays
So the Southsiders have won three games in a row and eight of their last 10. At 40-44 the Sox are 11 games out in the AL Central, but only 5.5 games off the pace in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot.
The Cubbies, meanwhile, have lost two straight. So at 46-39 they sit nine games back in the NL Central, but also own a two-game advantage over the Mets in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
This is the first meeting between these city rivals this season; last season the Sox took three of four games from the Cubs.
Lester (4-7, 3.48), by our strict standards, is nine-for-17 on quality starts this year. Monday he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against St. Louis before giving up a couple of unearned runs, and just before that he threw seven shutout innings against the Mets. On the season Lester has allowed 102 hits through 103 innings, walked 30 and struck out 101. The Cubs are 9-8 in Lester's starts, with the totals skewing UNDER by an 11-5 margin.
Last year, pitching for Boston, Lester started against the White Sox three times, holding them to four runs through 23 innings, with 29 strikeouts; the Red Sox won all three of those games.
Sale (7-4, 2.80) 13-for-16 on quality starts this season, and 10 for his last 11. Monday he tossed a complete nine innings against Toronto, allowing two runs and six hits, “only” striking out six. It was the first time in nine starts Sale didn't whiff at least 10 guys. And just before that he held St. Louis to one run through eight innings, whiffing 12. For the season Sale has allowed just 84 hits through 112 innings, walked 22 and struck out 147 – that's basically a 7/1 K/BB ratio. The White Sox are 10-6 in Sale's starts, with the UNDERS going 10-5.
This will be Sale's first-ever start against the Cubs, which might make him especially nasty, going up against a batch of hitters who for the most part have never faced him.
Saturday's Batting Splits
The Cubs rank third in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .344 team on-base percentage, while the Sox rank dead last against lefties with a .270 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
It's a bit hard to believe but games played at the Friendly Confines this season have skewed toward the UNDERS by a 27-13 margin, as they've averaged just 6.5 run per, second-fewest among all ML ballparks. Our guess is most of that has to do with the Cubs' 23rd-ranked offense and fifth-ranked pitching staff.
Sox-Cubs Saturday Free Picks
The prospect of getting Sale as an underdog is too good to pass up. Also, these two starters are a combined 21-10 on the UNDERS this season, and we'll try to ride that trend, too.
MLB Picks: White Sox +103 at BetOnline and UNDER