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AL Central rivals will open up a three-game series on Monday night when the Chicago White Sox visit the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Chicago holds a six-game lead in the division at 49-34, but is coming off a series loss to the Detroit Tigers including a 6-5 loss in Sunday’s finale as a -189 favorite. Minnesota avoided a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals with a 6-2 victory on Sunday as a -135 favorite, but is still in last place at 34-48.
The White Sox hold a huge 8-1 advantage in the 2021 season series so far after sweeping the Twins last week in Chicago while outscoring Minnesota 29-14 across the three games.
Giolito struggles again as White Sox drop series
The streaky White Sox lost two of three in Detroit over the weekend as they gave up 17 runs over the final two games, with Opening Day starter Lucas Giolito’s disappointing season continuing on Sunday. After Detroit took a 4-0 lead after two innings, Jose Abreu did his best to lead a rally with an RBI single in the third and three-run homer in the ninth, yet it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.
Giolito struggled over five innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits and one walk while striking out five to take the loss. Abreu and Tim Anderson each recorded three-hit games for the White Sox, who were undone by leaving 10 men on base.
The White Sox haven’t been quite as good against the spread at 43-40, and are just narrowly profitable on the money line for the season as they have been a big favorite in most games. Overs are 40-41-2 for the White Sox, and each of their last seven games have gone over the betting total.
Despite dealing with key injuries from the start of the season, the White Sox have been a strong offense with an average of 4.92 runs per game and a 0.745 OPS. Chicago pitching has been excellent with a 3.58 collective ERA while striking out an MLB-high 10.35 opposing batters per nine innings.
Dylan Cease will take the ball on Monday looking to continue a strong season that has seen him post a 7-3 record, 3.75 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 81.2 innings. The 25-year-old picked up the win over these Twins last Wednesday with six innings of two-run ball, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Yasmani Grandal is one of the top hitting catchers in baseball with an 0.830 OPS, 14 homers and 38 RBI to lead the White Sox offense.
Three of Chicago’s best young players are out until at least late in the summer, with Eloy Jimenez (torn pectoral muscle), Luis Robert (torn hip flexor) and Nick Madrigal (hamstring surgery) all sidelined. Outfielder Adam Engel has been limited to 10 games with hamstring trouble and is currently out, while third baseman Jake Lamb went down last week with a strained quad. The White Sox have been mostly healthy on the pitching side, although relievers Aaron Bummer (strained hamstring) and Evan Marshall (strained flexor) are both sidelined.
Minnesota snaps five-game skid behind Maeda
One of the most disappointing players for the Twins in a nightmare season has been No. 1 starter Kenta Maeda after he was the Cy Young runner-up in 2020, so his gem on Sunday to beat the Royals was a very welcome development. Trevor Larnach opened the scoring in the third with a run-scoring single and later added another RBI, while Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff all went deep.
Maeda tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while racking up 10 strikeouts. Luis Arraez stuffed the stat sheet, going 3-4 with a double, three runs scored and a stolen base to lead the Minnesota offense.
No team in baseball has been worse for gamblers, as Minnesota is 29-53 against the spread and down a massive amount on the money line as it was expected to be a playoff contender. Overs are a strong 51-27-4 for the Twins, although the last two games in Kansas City went under the betting total.
Despite the overall struggles, Minnesota’s offense is averaging 4.57 with a 0.747 OPS to rank top 10 in baseball. The Twins pitching staff has fallen way off, posting a collective 5.08 ERA to rank 28th in the Majors while allowing a league-high 1.60 home runs per nine innings.
Rookie Bailey Ober will take the ball for the Twins to open the series, looking to bounce back from his first career loss last Wednesday against these White Sox as he lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three. Nelson Cruz is heading to his seventh All-Star Game and remains one of the best sluggers in baseball at the age of 40 with a 0.952 OPS, 18 homers and 45 RBI.
Injuries have been a major part of Minnesota’s issues, as star Byron Buxton has been limited to 28 games by various ailments and is currently out with a fractured hand. The outfield is further shorthanded, as Kyle Garlick (sports hernia), Jake Cave (lower back discomfort), and Rob Refsnyder (strained hamstring) are on the IL. Mitch Garver is nearing a return from groin surgery as he’s on an AAA rehab assignment. Starting pitcher Michael Pineda went down in mid-June with elbow inflammation, while swingman Randy Dobnak is dealing with a strained finger. Minnesota’s bullpen is also missing players, with Cody Stashak (back discomfort), Luke Farrell (strained oblique) and Devin Smeltzer (elbow inflammation) all out.
Trends via Covers.com. Minnesota is:
- 1-4 in its last five games against a right-handed starter.
- 8-21 in its last 29 games as an underdog.
- 5-1 in its last six games against a right-handed starter.
- 38-13 in its last 51 games as a favorite.