MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox

Date/Time: August 4, 8:10 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Chris Archer (9-8, 2.54) vs. Chris Sale (9-6, 3.20)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Chicago -130

Total: 6.5

A couple of American League Cy Young hopefuls take the mound on Tuesday night on the South Side as the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox square off. It’ll be right-hander Chris Archer against left-hander Chris Sale in a battle of two of the game’s most dominant starting pitchers. Those that like pitchers duels should light some candles and relax in a warm bath for this one because #SensualBaseball is on tap.

These two pitchers could not have had different paths to the big leagues. Archer was drafted by the Indians in 2006 and got enough money as a senior out of Clayton High School to skip college and go to pro ball. Archer was traded twice before landing with the Rays and developed into a front of the rotation stud. Sale was drafted by the Rockies out of high school but went to Florida Gulf Coast University instead. He was a first-round pick of the White Sox in 2010 and made his big league debut as a reliever that same season. Sale moved to the rotation full-time in 2012 and has never looked back.

Overall this season, the Rays are 22nd in wOBA with a .301 mark. The White Sox are 25th with a .299, the worst mark in the American League. The Rays are the second-worst offensive team in the AL by wOBA. By wRC+, the White Sox are tied with the Marlins for the worst team in baseball offensively. Pitchers hit for the Marlins.

Chris Archer has to be excited for this matchup. Both of these guys are examples of why win-loss record is a terrible way to evaluate pitchers. Archer is 9-8 in 22 starts with a 2.54 ERA, 2.50 FIP, and a 2.52 xFIP. He has struck out 11 batters per nine innings for a strikeout rate of 31 percent. His 5.24 K/BB ratio is among the best in the league. He has one of the best sliders in all of baseball, rating 21.7 runs above average according to PITCHf/x data.

Everything about Archer has trended in the right direction, with the highest chase rate, best swinging strike percentage, highest first-pitch strike percentage, best SIERA, best FIP, best xFIP, the list goes on and on. It’s amazing what he has done without a third pitch, since his changeup is pretty mediocre, but hitters are batting .169/.210/.246 on his slider and he throws it over 40 percent of the time. It’s about as elite as a pitch gets.

Chris Sale is pretty dominant in his own right. Like Archer, Sale only has nine wins this season, but he has tremendous peripherals. The shoddy White Sox defense and a big drop in strand rate have pushed Sale’s ERA more than a run higher than last season, but his 2.32 FIP and 2.44 xFIP are elite. For the second straight season, Sale has struck out over 30 percent of batters faced, posting a 27.4 percent K%-BB%. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 7-to-1.

Like Archer, Sale just keeps improving. He has a 69.1 percent first-pitch strike percentage and a ridiculous 15.2 percent swinging strike rate. Also like Archer, the front office locked up Sale in a hurry, so he is only making $6M this season and is signed for the next three seasons at just $33.7M. Of Sale’s three most used pitches, hitters have posted OPSes of .648 (two-seamer), .588 (changeup), and .561 (slider). Any way you look at it, these two are at the top of their games and runs aren’t going to happen in this one.

MLB Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays

Strikeouts and zeroes are going to be the theme of the night in Chicago. The Rays have fared a bit better against lefties than the White Sox have against righties, so they get the slightest of leans in this game, but this is one to watch and enjoy. For a pick, play the under and hope that the bullpens don’t come in too early. But, both of these pitchers should be extremely efficient in this game, so the bullpens won’t have much to do.