Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Saturday.
It is hard to resist an American League Cy Young Award candidate at basically an underdog price Saturday when southpaw Chris Sale and those Chicago White Sox (44-50, 20-28 away) pay a visit to right-hander Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians (45-50, 19-28 home) in the third game of a four-game series from Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH at 7:10 ET in a game available on WGN.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Chicago as a tiny underdog for this contest at current odds of -101.
White Sox Find Their Offense
The White Sox were expected by many to be improved this season, but that has not been the case as they enter this contest in last place in the American League Central, with a key reason being ranking second to last in the Major Leagues in scoring with 3.45 runs per game. However, you would be hard-pressed to convince Cleveland of that after the White Sox took the first two games of this series by scores of 8-1 on Thursday and 6-0 on Friday!
That pulled Chicago to within one-half game of the Indians, meaning Cleveland would replace Chicago in the AL Central basement with another loss today. And the Indians’ mindset may not be at its best after reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was the losing MLB pick last night while allowing all six runs, all earned, in seven innings. The Indians are another team that has underperformed expectations this year after some experts had them in the World Series.
Chicago’s Turn To Have a Cy Young Winner?
While the Indians boast the reigning Cy Young Winner, it is the White Sox that may boast the winner of that hardware this year in Sale despite his ordinary 8-5 record. To say that record seems fraudulent would be an understatement as Sale is in actuality one of the most elite pitchers in baseball that would have a more representative record if he pitched for a better offense.
You see, Sale owns a 2.86 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 163 strikeouts in 125.2 innings vs. just 24 walks, with that strikeout rate of 11.67 per nine innings ranking second in the Major Leagues behind only Clayton Kershaw, and he recently tied a record by recording double-digit strikeout totals in eight consecutive starts. And Sale currently still has a streak in tact where he has struck out double-digits in each of his last seven road starts.
He sparkled in his only other start vs. the Indians so far this season allowing one run on a solo homer and four hits in eight innings and he is catching a Cleveland lineup batting just .231 while averaging a pathetic 1.53 runs vs. left-hander pitchers over the last 10 games. Sale usually works deeply into games but it is still reassuring to know that the Chicago bullpen has posted a sparkling 1.84 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over that same 10-game span.
Carrasco Not Undervalued as Usual
Now, we are actually high on Carrasco and we named him as one of our pitchers to watch over the second half of the year at the All-Star break. Carrasco is currently 10-7 with a 3.94 ERA, and there appears to be plenty of room for more positive regression for a pitcher whose peripheral numbers are far superior to his mainstream stats.
Carrasco has an excellent command ratio with 10.08 strikeouts vs. 1.89 walks per nine innings, and he has pitched in bad luck while yielding a .334 BABIP. All that has led top a stellar 2.81 FIP, 2.73 xFIP and a 2.8 WAR that ranks 16th in the majors among qualified starting pitchers.
Those sabremetric stats have often served to make Carrasco undervalued this season, but that does not appear to be the case today, not against an elite pitcher like Sale who is fourth in the majors with his 4.1 WAR.
As you’d might expect, there are quite a few trends supporting Sale here despite him not pitching for the best of teams. Among them, the White Sox are 7-1 in Sale’s last eight starts when pitching with five days of rest, 4-1 in his last five starts vs. teams with losing records and 5-2 in his last seven road starts.
As much as we like Carrasco, we simply feel that this is too much value to pass up with Sale going for the Chicago White Sox as they visit Cleveland on Saturday.
MLB Pick: White Sox -101