While the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays have hit the cover off of baseballs all season, they are both currently scuffling and looking for a good series win to right themselves. A four-game set at Toronto’s Rogers Centre begins tonight at 7:07 p.m. EST, and a tone-setting victory will have to be earned by hitting hard and pitching intelligently.
The Listed Pitchers
The Toronto Blue Jays will send out Alek Manoah (5-2, 3.34 ERA). Manoah is coming off a dreadful outing against the Washington Nationals, having given up six runs across three innings of work. However, he has mostly been a bright spot for the Canadian side’s rotation and has been a strikeout machine, frequently going into the double digits.
The Chicago White Sox will counter with fan favorite Lance Lynn (10-3, 2.26 ERA). While he has long been talked about as a contender for the AL Cy Young award this season, he has had trouble staying in games as of late: Nine total innings of work stretched out over his past two appearances, and he has failed to pitch into the seventh inning in all but one of his most recent 11 starts.
Even though the White Sox have managed to stay well ahead in a quite frankly dreadful AL Central, they have very clearly taken their foot off the gas pedal, as evidenced by their 18-18 record after the All-Star break. Chicago still has a 10-game lead over the rest of the division and find themselves as the only AL Central club with a record better than .500. Their postseason inclusion is a no-brainer, but they have got to start playing good baseball, or else find themselves getting squashed when the games matter most.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are fighting for their postseason lives. Sitting 4 1⁄2 games out of the final wild card spot and being given an 11.4% chance by FanGraphs of making the playoffs, Toronto has its work cut out for it. Luckily, they are playing great at Rogers Centre, going 10-4 after having to play their home games in Florida and Buffalo for the past two seasons.
Lance Lynn should find himself with a bit of extra rest after getting ejected after only four innings of work in his last appearance. Hopefully he will be focused and avoids throwing anything at an umpire during his next substance check. The White Sox have mostly been on cruise control, but have gotten fantastic contributions at the plate from Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez — and they will need all the help they can get to pull out a victory.
The Blue Jays have lost to the dregs of the American League as of late, but will feel confident as they send their young ace out to fight a probable pitcher’s battle in their native Canada.
Both teams have lineups that can light up at any time, but runs will be hard to find while the two starters are both in the game. In their earlier three-game series this year, the under hit in all three games. However, I am choosing to avoid dealing with an uneven Toronto bullpen and am instead focusing on the first half under for total runs. Look for these two clubs to focus on pitching and defense early, until team one breaks away.
Pick: First Five (Innings) Under 4.5 (-115)