The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox may well wind up duking it out for supremacy in the American League Central next year, but this season the Twins will reign supreme. Minnesota went into Cleveland and took 2 of 3 from the Indians over the weekend, which pushed their lead to 4 ½ games in the division. The Indians aren’t out of the race yet, but it would take quite a run over the season’s last couple of weeks to dethrone the Twins.
So, Minnesota appears headed for a division title. The White Sox are 26 games behind the Twins in the standings. With the young talent in Chicago’s system, it’s fair to wonder if next year could be the year we see the White Sox start to make some headway. The White Sox’ record of 65-84 isn’t good at all, but it is still good enough for the third-best mark in the AL Central ahead of the miserable Royals and Tigers.
The White Sox will head to Minneapolis for three games starting Monday night. Reynaldo Lopez will climb the hill for Chicago, while Jose Berrios will get the ball for the Twins. The Twins are massive -250 favorites to win the game outright on the moneyline, while the White Sox are listed as +200 underdogs.
|Betting Data||White Sox||Twins|
|2019 ATR Home||29-45||35-39|
|2019 ATR Away||41-34||46-29|
|2019 O/U Home||33-39-2||34-36-4|
|2019 O/U Away||38-34-3||41-31-3|
Jose Berrios was the unquestioned ace of the Twins’ staff before the season began. While he hasn’t pitched poorly this year, he also hasn’t made a leap the way many expected he would. Berrios’ strikeout rate is sitting at 22.7 percent through his first 29 starts of the year, which is down from his 25.4 percent mark fro a season ago. It’s also slightly below his career rate of 22.9 percent.
Berrios has done an excellent job of curtailing the walks (6 percent, down from 7.7 percent career), but his 4.33 SIERA is an awful lot more pedestrian than his solid 3.63 ERA. The right-hander has allowed 24 home runs, which is one below his career-high, which was set last season.
Berrios projected as a high-strikeout pitcher coming up from the minors, so the fact that his swing-and-miss numbers have dropped off is undoubtedly a concerning sign moving forward. If Berrios isn’t going to be overpowering his opponents, he is essentially a pitch-to-contact type of pitcher these days.
The White Sox don’t boast the most formidable lineup, but they do have some decent power bats. Chicago’s projected lineup has a high 25.8 percent K-rate against right-handed pitching. The middle part of the order does include a few legitimate home-run threats in Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenes, and James McCann. Abreu, Moncada, and Jimenez each own ISOs well over .200 against right-handed pitching on the season.
Berrios is 3-1 through 4 starts against the ChiSox on the year, but he has also allowed 16 runs through 27 innings of work.
Reynaldo Lopez was one of the White Sox’ prized pieces in the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals a few years ago. The other piece, Lucas Giolito, has emerged as a legitimate ace this season. Lopez has shown flashes at times, but his season-long numbers leave plenty to be desired.
Just look at his last two starts as a prime example of his Jekyll-or-Hyde nature. Two starts ago, the 25-year-old right-hander struck out 11 while allowing only a run on one hit in a complete-game effort against the Indians on the road. In his very next start, in a much more exploitable matchup at home with a sluggish Royals lineup, Lopez was tagged to the tune of six runs on nine hits in just 4.2 innings of work.
That has been the case for Lopez’ entire career to this point. On the season, the right-hander has a record of 9-13 with a 5.35 ERA. Lopez’ season-long strikeout rate of 21.1 percent is nothing special, so, weirdly, he will go out now and then and look like a dominant, ace-caliber pitcher. His walk rate of 8.3 percent isn’t great, but it’s far from egregious, either. His 4.90 SIERA is an improvement on his aforementioned ERA, but a 4.90 SIERA isn’t particularly good, either.
Lopez steamrolled a good Indians lineup a couple of games ago, and the Twins pose another daunting threat. Minnesota’s projected lineup has a low 18.7 percent K-rate against right-handed pitching along with a team-wide ISO over .230. 6 of the first seven hitters in the projected lineup (Kepler, Polanco, Cruz, Rosario, Garver, and Sano) have ISOs of at least .220 against right-handed pitching. Lopez gets a little relief at the bottom of the lineup with LaMont Wade and Willians Astudillo, but this is a terrifying lineup top-to-bottom.
There should be some scoring in this one. Lopez is a tough pitcher to predict given his volatility, but the Twins should be able to do some damage at his expense. Berrios is a talented enough pitcher to mow down the White Sox, but I would be shocked if he managed to escape this start completely unscathed.
The total of 9 ½ runs should creep north as we get closer to first pitch. I would be jumping all over this as quickly as possible, as it’s very easy to see this game getting into double digits. Bet the over on 9 ½ runs in Twins-White Sox on Monday night.
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