Because of the unfortunate situation in Baltimore a few weeks back the Orioles and White Sox will play a double-header Thursday afternoon. See who I like for my MLB picks.
Game 1 Betting Line
In the early MLB odds Chicago and starter Chris Sale were favored by around -140 over Baltimore with rookie Tyler Wilson, the total offered at 7.5 runs. The Sox could also be found at around +125 giving the run and a half on the run line.
These teams were going to play a three-game series at the Yards a month ago, but the riots caused the cancellation of two games. That's why these teams are meeting on what would have been an off-day for both. The one game they did play in that series, in an empty stadium, was won by Baltimore 8-2.
Last year the Orioles took five of six games from Chicago.
The Sox just dropped two of three games in Toronto, losing Monday 6-0 and Tuesday 10-9 on a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, then avoiding the sweep, and snapping a four-game losing streak, with a 5-3 extra-inning victory Wednesday.
Just before that Chicago lost two of three to Minnesota, and just before that they lost three of four to Cleveland. So the Sox have lost three series in a row.
Chicago has also played eight UNDERS in its last 10 games, mainly because the bats have been dozing.
Baltimore just took two of three games from Houston, winning Monday 4-3, losing Tuesday 4-1 but taking the rubber match Wednesday 5-4 on Chris Davis' tie-breaker homer in the bottom of the eighth.
Just before that the O's lost two of three at Miami; just before that they took two of three from Seattle. Going back a month Baltimore has been treading water, going 4-4 over its last eight series, 11-12 over its last 23 games.
The Orioles have also played nine UNDERS in their last 13 games,
Game 1 Starters
Wilson, a righty, will be making his first-ever ML start today. In two relief appearances last week he gave up a run and five hits in two innings of work against the Mariners and Marlins, then got sent back down. But he's being called back up to work today.
A 10th-round pick in the 2011 draft Wilson is 34-28 in the Minors with a 3.70 ERA. And in parts of two seasons at Triple-A Norfolk, including eight starts this year, Wilson went 6-7/3.49. And his K/BB down there this year was pretty good, at 32/7 through 41 innings.
The word on Wilson is that while he isn't spectacular, he does a lot of things well, and throws strikes.
Lefty Sale is six-for-eight on quality starts this season, working on a string of three in a row. Last Saturday he gave up three earned runs through eight innings against Minnesota, with 10 strikeouts, and over his last three starts he's allowed a total of six ER through 24 innings. On the season Sale has allowed 46 hits through 51 1/3 innings, and owns a 54/14 K/BB ratio; Chicago is 5-3 in Sale's starts, with the totals splitting 4-4.
Sale started twice against Baltimore last year, giving up five runs and 19 hits through 12 innings; the Sox lost both those games, and both games played OVER.
Game 1 Batting Splits
Chicago ranks near-average against right-handed pitching this season with, among other things, a .686 team OPS.
Baltimore, meanwhile, rates near the middle of the pack against lefties this season with, among other things, a .711 team OPS.
The Stadium Factor
Games played at Camden Yards this season are 12-12 on the totals, even though they're averaging a healthy 9.9 runs per. Apparently, odds makers are slightly overestimating their totals on Orioles home games.
Free Game 1 Picks
Sale gets the check-mark in the pitching comparison, but the Orioles beat him twice last season. Our guess is the value on the Game 1 betting line resides with the home dog. Also, both teams are trending UNDER as of late, so we're thinking that lean might continue for our MLB pick.
Free Picks: Baltimore +130 and UNDER 7.5 runs at WagerWeb