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The Opening Play Should Go Houston’s Way

Experience plus McCullers means the smart money backs Houston.

Division Series - Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros - Game One Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It’s finally time again for postseason baseball. After two exciting wild card games, we now turn our attention to Game 1 of the ALDS, with the 93-win Chicago White Sox traveling to Texas for their first bout with the 95-win Houston Astros. The series kicks off at Minute Maid Park at 3:07 p.m. CT.

The Listed Pitchers

Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA) will be handed the ball by the Chicago White Sox today. While he started the season off on a tear, Lynn has been far more average down the stretch, sporting a 4.46 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in his final eight regular season starts. The White Sox will have to hope that the bright lights will help Lynn to settle down early and rediscover his potential Cy Young powers.

Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA) will be Houston’s starter. His performance has been just about the opposite of Lance, as he had a 3.00 ERA during his five September starts, as well as a truly-imposing .181 batting average.

The Breakdown

The Houston Astros are attempting to reach their fifth ALCS in as many years, while the Chicago White Sox will be looking for further justification that their managerial swap to Tony La Russa was the right idea. For both teams, failing to reach the World Series this year would be considered a significant failure.

During the regular season, Houston had Chicago’s number, putting together a 5-2 record and outscoring the Pale Hose by 42-25. However, this is a totally different White Sox team configuration from the last bout in mid-July: Chicago now can call on Luis Robert, Craig Kimbrel, Eloy Jiménez, Ryan Tepera, Reynaldo López, Gavin Sheets and César Hernández. This is a real wrecking crew going up against a pitcher who has really found his stride as of late.

The Astros offense is strong as well, though, and the team is 8-1 in their last nine ALDS games played at home.

The Pick

Houston Astros -1.5 (+146)

As scary as the White Sox can be on offense, it cannot be denied that Lynn has been a bit mediocre as of late, and that will not be good enough to silence the Astros’ bats. This White Sox team is relatively unproven in the postseason, while these Astros have been there, done that. Hammer their run line at plus money.