We’ve got a couple of really interesting games in the AL Central today as division rivals get together. One of those games is at Guaranteed Rate Field between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.
We’ll see Kenta Maeda for the visitors and Lucas Giolito for the hosts. This line is one that makes you raise your eyebrows a little. The White Sox are favorites in the -140 range across the market, including the line at BetUS Sportsbook. The total on the game sits at 8 with some overnight money on the under.
The Twins are finally getting on track it would appear. Minnesota is still tied for last place with Kansas City, but the Twins have won seven of their last nine games, including a series win over the Indians this past weekend. Time is not on Minnesota’s side to get back into the division race, as the team sits 11.5 games behind the White Sox, but some of the alternate standings metrics seem to be coming to life.
It hasn’t been the offense. The Twins have had a good offense most of the season, a group that ranks in the top 10 in a lot of key offensive categories. The Twins rank seventh in wOBA coming into this game with a 105 wRC+. They’re also starting to hit better at home, which was a problem in the colder months of the early part of the season.
As a team that usually hits for a lot of power, the spin rate crackdown, the warmer weather, and the league-wide increase in long balls as a result of those two things should go a long way for this offense. Minnesota’s 111 dingers ranks third, trailing only Toronto and San Francisco.
Kenta Maeda could certainly use the run support. He has a 4.85 ERA with a 5.01 FIP in his 52 innings of work. He’s struck out 50 and walked 15 in his 11 starts on the season. He’s given up 11 home runs, more than he allowed in 2020 over 66.2 innings when he had a 2.70 ERA with a 3.00 FIP. Maeda just had no command earlier this season and then wound up going on the IL for a period.
Since returning, Maeda has made two starts and has allowed three runs on eight hits in 9.1 innings of work with 11 strikeouts against four walks. The right-hander allowed two home runs last time out against Seattle, but both were solo shots. Maeda’s two starts have been in Seattle and Texas, which are predominantly good pitcher’s parks, so we’ll see if the season-long command issues hurt more on the South Side of Chicago.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have a 2.5-game cushion in the AL Central over the Indians, who now have three games in hand, but it sure feels like a much bigger lead. The White Sox aren’t really threatened by a Cleveland team that has no starting rotation right now and one of the league’s most boring offenses.
On the other hand, Chicago’s offense now ranks ninth in wOBA at .322. The White Sox are still crushing left-handed pitching with regularity, but are now down to 13th in wOBA against righties. The White Sox have dealt with a lot of injuries this season, as four starting lineup players are on the injured list and three of them are out with long-term injuries.
Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert were expected to provide a lot of power in the lineup. Nick Madrigal basically never strikes out and puts tons of balls in play. Adam Eaton should be back shortly, but you never know with soft tissue injuries like strained hamstring. Adam Engel and Billy Hamilton also remain out.
Lucas Giolito gets the call on the mound today for the White Sox. He has a 3.80 ERA with a 4.18 FIP in his 87.2 innings of work. Giolito has seen improvements with his walk rate and has maintained his big strikeout gains from 2019 and 2020 for the most part, but his command profile has fallen off a bit this season. Giolito has allowed 17 home runs. He allowed eight last season.
His Hard Hit% is also up several percentage points. Giolito is still getting a lot of strikeouts, but he hasn’t thrown as many quality strikes as he did last season. He also hasn’t had the benefit of feasting on the pathetic AL Central and NL Central offenses as much as he did last season.
Twins vs. White Sox Free Pick
It is a big ask of Maeda in his current state to shut down the White Sox offense, even in its current state. On the other hand, the Twins are playing a lot better and they hit a ton of home runs, which has been the Achilles heel for Giolito this season. It looks like it could be a gloomy and grey night at the yard, which could be part of the totals move, but it also looks to me like these two pitchers may struggle in their respective matchups.
Pick: Over 8