The Chicago White Sox, on the strength of a string of clutch hits and big home runs, staved off elimination on Sunday night with a 12-6 win in Game 3 of their American League Division Series matchup with the Houston Astros. After early struggles from Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech, the White Sox found themselves down 5-1 in the third inning when they started their huge comeback.
Home runs from Yasmani Grandal and Leury García gave Chicago a 6-5 lead. The White Sox pulled ahead for good with a three-run rally in the bottom of the fourth aided by a bizarre play in which Grandal — running to first base well inside the baseline — deflected a Yulieski Gurriel throw home, preventing Houston from getting Luis Robert out at the plate. The White Sox needed a break to stay alive and they certainly got one.
There’s a quick turnaround for Monday’s afternoon Game 4. José Urquidy gets the start for the Astros in a potential clincher while Carlos Rodón, whose status for this series was in doubt due to an arm injury, goes for the White Sox.
First pitch from the South Side on Monday is at 3:37 p.m. ET. The BetUS sportsbook has the White Sox as -130 moneyline favorites while the Astros are +120 underdogs. MLB lines have the over/under at nine runs.
While Urquidy might not be the flashiest pitcher, he’s coming off his best season. In 107 innings, he posted a 3.62 ERA with a sub-1.00 WHIP. He isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher — just 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings — but is able to keep runs off the board because he doesn’t give up many hits. He has held opponents to a .218 batting average and has also only walked 1.6 batters per nine innings. By limiting his baserunners, Urquidy is able to avoid big innings, even though he has a home run issue (17 dingers in 107 innings is a lot).
The White Sox drew the fourth-most walks in baseball and were among the leaders in on-base percentage (third-highest) and batting average (fifth-highest). They also have done most of their offensive damage against the Astros in big chunks as opposed to spread out over many innings.
If you’re betting online, go with Urquidy and the Astros moneyline. Houston had a hiccup in Game 3, especially from a pitching perspective, but expect the Astros to finish the job and take down the White Sox one more time with one of their most trusted arms on the mound.
Rodón on Pitch Count
After he no-hit the Cleveland Indians in April and had an ERA below 2.00 until the end of June, Rodón seemed like he was well on his way to finally reaching the potential that was expected of him as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft. However, he got much more hittable as the summer went on until he missed a few weeks in August with left arm fatigue and soreness, limiting him to 28 innings in the final two months.
So, Rodón will have a quick hook on Monday and definitely will be working on some kind of pitch limit. It’s also still kind of up in the air how effective he’ll be considering how little he has been on the mound in the last two months. Plus, it’s never easy to shake off some rust against a lineup as dangerous as that of the Astros.
The MLB playoff odds interestingly have the White Sox as favorites despite the uncertainty over how Rodón will pitch. So, you should go with the value and take the Astros straight up as the underdogs. Their lineup will be able to hit Rodón.
Quick Turnaround for White Sox Bullpen
The back-end of the bullpen is probably the White Sox’s biggest strength, even if manager Tony La Russa has deployed it questionably throughout this series. Most of their key pieces will likely be available after Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel threw only a combined 14 pitches on Sunday. Aaron Bummer (24 pitches) and Ryan Tepera (23 pitches) were used a good bit while Kopech (47 pitches) was pushed close to his limit.
The bigger concern is that Hendriks, Kimbrel, Bummer and Tepera all would be pitching three games in four days if they’re used on Monday. During a regular season, that most likely wouldn’t affect a reliever’s performance. But, in the playoffs, any small advantage (or disadvantage) can balloon into something very significant over the course of a game.
There is a chance that La Russa using so many of his trusted relievers in a lopsided win could potentially come back to hurt the White Sox, even though doing so was the right move at the time. As far as today’s MLB picks go, you should take the Astros. They have the bullpen rest advantage for their top arms, have a healthy starter on the mound and have the superior lineup.
Pick: Houston Astros +120