This game is perfectly set up for White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale. He’s throwing at home, a place where he’s thrived (2.13 ERA compared with a 3.20 ERA on the road). He’s pitching against a team with a losing record (he’s posted a solid 2.52 ERA against weaker clubs) and he’s facing a team he already pitched effectively against earlier this season. On April 28, Sale gave up just two earned runs in seven innings, allowing a meagre four hits and one walk while striking out six.
Blue Jays starter Esmil Rogers has been solid this year (3.60 ERA), but primarily in a relief role. He hasn’t gone more than four innings in either of his two opportunities as a starter. That means the Blue Jays bullpen, which has given up the second most runs per game of any American League relief corps, will be relied on heavily. That’s bad news for Toronto fans and is a key reason why you should go with the White Sox at 1.55 in this contest.
There’s an intriguing match-up when the Detroit Tigers visit the Kansas City Royals. Two of the game’s best starters Justin Verlander (Detroit) and James Shields (Kansas City) square off. Both have warts on their season thus far. Verlander has a fine win-loss record – 8-4 – but a subpar 3.71 ERA, which is substantially below his ERAs over the past two seasons (2.40 in 20011; 2.64 in 2012).
On the other hand, Shields has a poor win-loss – 2-6 – and a solid ERA (2.81). So who wins here? Verlander. There a few reasons for this. The first is that Verlander’s ERA has been inflated by an unsustainably unlucky batting average for balls in play by hitter’s he’s faced. Batter’s have a .355 batting average in that situation (compared with a league average typically around .300). That generally means hitters have been getting overly fortunate against him. The law of averages says that should change. Also, Verlander has already shown this year just how good he can be against the Royals. On April 25, he shut down the Royals line up, giving up just one earned run in seven innings.
As for Shields, this clash is not ideal. Shields hasn’t thrown as well at home as on the road and, not surprisingly, he hasn’t put up as good numbers against winning teams like the Tigers as opposed to clubs with winning percentages under .500. The Tigers lineup will be particularly vexing as the team has a cumulative .311 batting average lifetime against Shields.
Best bet: Tigers to win at 1.75