Aug. 13 MLB Preview –Houston Astros (77-41) at Chicago White Sox (52-64)

(Zack Greinke photo courtesy John Glaser/USA TODAY Sports)

Ed’s Note — This game was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, and is now the first game of an Aug. 13 doubleheader.

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Tuesday, Aug. 13, Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago, Ill., 4:40 p.m. EDT.

With the nervousness of pitching for a new team out of the way, Zack Greinke looks to be more effective Tuesday when he makes his second start for the Houston Astros in the first game of a doubleheader with the offensively challenged Chicago White Sox.

Greinke looks to make it 2-0 with Astros

Greinke (1-0, 7.50 ERA) cruised through his first three innings in his debut with the Astros, then ran into trouble in the fourth and sixth innings. In the latter, he gave up a three-run homer, and finished with five runs allowed in six innings.

Though the five runs matched the combined total he yielded in his final three starts with Arizona, the Astros nearly matched the eight runs of support he got in those no-decisions by plating seven for him en route to an 11-6 victory Tuesday night.

“I was telling [catcher Martin Maldonado] that it kind of reminds me when I was back in Milwaukee and it seemed like we scored, like, 10 runs a game,” Greinke told Houston’s official website. “It’s a good offense, and it’s fun to pitch with that going on.”

The right-hander has faced the White Sox just once in the last seven seasons, coming one out shy of a complete game while striking out 12 in a 5-1 victory in May 2017. Greinke, though, has seen plenty of Chicago pitching as a former division rival with Kansas City and is 8-10 with a 4.17 ERA in 24 career starts.

The South Side of Chicago, though, was not kind to him as he enters this game 2-7 with a 6.16 ERA in 10 starts there. Greinke lost his first six road starts against the White Sox and is facing them on the road for the first time since 2012.

The Astros had their eight-game winning streak snapped with an 8-7 defeat at Baltimore on Sunday. Houston nearly completed a sweep of the Orioles after rallying with three ninth-inning runs, but closer Roberto Osuna served up a two-run walkoff homer in blowing his fifth save in 31 opportunities.

Yordan Alvarez, who followed up his three-homer game Saturday by going 2 for 5, is 17 for 37 (.459) with five homers and three doubles during a nine-game hitting streak. Alvarez has six multihit games and 17 homers in 46 games since being promoted.

Pale Hose look to spark listless offense

The White Sox suffered a pair of shutout defeats in dropping a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics after losing Sunday’s rubber match 2-0. It was the fourth time in 11 games Chicago was blanked at home, and Rick Renteria’s team has played only 18 runs in those contests.

Dylan Cease (2-4, 6.00) hopes the offense perks up as the rookie tries to win back-to-back starts for the first time. The right-hander snapped a four-start losing streak Tuesday night in Detroit, holding the Tigers to two runs in five innings of a 5-3 victory.

Cease also got four runs of support, which was like an offensive outburst considering the White Sox provided him with only two in his four losses — and failed to score for him in three of those outings.

“It seems as the way it’s going, early in the game I kind of feel my way through it a little bit,” Cease told the club’s official website. “Then I get locked in and I start being a little more aggressive. (Renteria) was just talking about having that intent from the beginning, just trusting it from the beginning.”

The next challenge for the 23-year-old is to beat someone other than the worst team in the majors as both his wins have come against Detroit. Cease is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three home starts and facing the Astros for the first time.

Notable Trends

The White Sox are:

  • 1-5 in their last six home games.
  • 17-35 in their last 52 games vs. AL West teams.
  • 2-9 in their last 11 games vs. the Astros.

The Astros are:

  • 6-1 in their last seven road games vs. right-handed starters.
  • 47-14 in their last 61 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 38-13 in their last 51 during game 1 of a series.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Astros -1.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

Again seeking out an alternate line for a better rate of return, and the Astros are worth the pick here as well. Houston is 9-2 at the five-inning mark in its last 11 road games and led by two or more runs on six occasions in that span. One of those six was in Greinke’s start, and the right-hander helped Arizona to a 7-1-2 record at the midway point in his last 10 starts before being dealt.

Cease’s success in the first five innings mirrors his overall success — both leads came against Detroit, and the White Sox trailed by two or more runs in three of the other four starts and failed to score in the first five innings in three of the other four starts.

****4-Star Picks****

Astros -2.5 runs (-136)

Given Chicago’s struggles offensively — especially at home — and the expectation the Astros will not lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 15 and 16, the alternate line offered by PointsBet.com is worth a play.

Greinke should be able to avoid the one bad inning that plagued him versus Colorado and should handle a White Sox lineup having trouble scratching out runs.

Astros OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-125)

The Astros have plated at least two runs in the first three frames in their last five contests and eight of their last 10 overall. The other number to consider here is 15.00, which is Cease’s ERA in the second inning as teams begin to face him for a second time.

The rookie has yielded 10 second-inning runs in his six starts, with opponents taking him deep three times and batting .407. Cease has yielded two or more runs in the first three innings in four of his six starts, and Houston’s hot bats make the over a solid play.

UNDER 9.5 runs (-121)

The under has trended on the South Side with these teams, going 11-5-1 in the last 17 in Chicago. It is also 4-1 in the last five overall between the teams after hitting three times in a four-game series in Houston in May.

The under has also delivered in Cease’s last four starts and is currently on a five-game run at home with the White Sox. The under is 6-2 in Houston’s last eight games versus AL Central rivals and 8-2-1 in Greinke’s last 11 road starts.

The hook has been restored with the extra day, which offers confidence in the under hitting with the expectation of Greinke pitching better than he did last outing.

***3-Star Picks***

Astros OVER 6 runs (-105)

Cease’s 1.55 WHIP in his 33 innings of work play into this pick as much as Houston averaging 9.67 runs in its last nine games. Even taking out the 23-2 pummeling of Baltimore on Saturday, the Astros have averaged 8.0 runs in the other eight contests. Opponents are hitting .294 and .327, respectively, in their first two times in the lineup facing Cease, which also lends confidence to Houston piling up runs.

This is threading the needle with taking the under for the game, but the Astros offense makes this a worthwhile play,

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

A confidence pick in Greinke and against the White Sox offense, which has scored three runs total in the first five innings of its last seven home games. Cease has also pitched better early of late, yielding three runs combined in his last two outings. While there is no hook, the belief is Greinke is successful doing most of the heavy lifting for this pick.

 

Published by:

Chris Altruda

Currently a freelance sportswriter on the hunt for full-time work. If you like my work or have constructive criticism, please share it and/or contact me at chris.altruda@hotmail.com or via Twitter at @AlTruda73 My portfolio of clippings can be viewed at http://www.clippings.me/caltruda And thank you for taking time out of your day to read my posts.

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