Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa
Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) scores in front of a throw to Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal (24) on a sacrifice fly by Astros' Chas McCormick during the second inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

SGG Pick of the Day ALDS Game 3 Astros vs White Sox

Mike Shara

Houston Astros vs. Chicago White Sox | 8:07 pm, Guaranteed Rate Field

Houston leads the series 2-0

Pitching matchup: Dylan Cease vs. Luis Garcia

ODDS: White Sox -115 (DraftKings)

SPREAD: Astros +1.5 (FanDuel)


Well, the battle of the ancient managers hasn’t quite turned out so well for the self-appointed genius of baseball, has it? The older manager who is already in the Hall of Fame has had his ass handed to him by the slightly less old manager who somehow isn’t in the HOF yet. From where I sit, it has been nothing short of delicious. Tony LaRussa has taken key strategic missteps in both games, leaving his starter in too long each time and his bullpen usage was curious, to say the least. On the other hand, Dusty Baker’s squad has rolled along like a well-oiled machine that appears very difficult to slow down for any opponent over a 5 or 7 game series.

In hopes of closing out the series, Houston will send rookie Luis Garcia to the mound. He was nothing short of excellent in 2021, making 30 starts, finishing with an 11-8 record and his ERA never went above 3.50 after his second start. He will get (and deserve) some first place votes for the AL Rookie of the Year. He won his only start against the White Sox this year, allowing just one run over 7 innings, although that game was played in Houston. He did wear down a bit in the second half, pitching into the sixth inning in just two of his last nine starts of the regular season. The Astros appear to have supreme confidence in him, though – the much more experienced starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi was left off of their ALDS roster.

Chicago will counter with another young pitcher in 25-year-old Dylan Cease. 2021 was Cease’s first full season making more than 14 starts and he fared very well, striking out 226 batters in just over 165 innings. He also walked just 68 batters this year after leading MLB in walks issued during the 2020 season. He features a power curveball and a fastball that can sit at 97 mph while touching 100. The concern for the White Sox and their SAP (self-appointed genius) manager is that Cease was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts vs. Houston this year. For some reason that I’m sure only he can fathom, LaRussa hasn’t used stud reliever Michael Kopech yet, so he’ll certainly be available for multiple innings on Sunday. Southside fans hope it won’t already be too late by that point.

There’s no shame in Cease struggling vs. Houston. Their offence is savvy, athletic and seems bound and determined to erase any doubt that they can win without…em…assistance. Their bullpen is a bit of an Achilles’ heel, but if they continue to score like they have been it won’t matter as much. The White Sox boast a very good offensive team as well, although they’ll need more fire power if they hope to stay in this postseason much longer. After two games they have 18 hits – all singles – and 13 of those belong to three players (Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert). They will need more contributions from the rest of the lineup and quickly.

Anything can happen in one game – especially in the playoffs, and it’s not inconceivable or even unlikely that the White Sox can come to life once they return to their home park. There are rumors of another “Blackout Game” from the fans, a la 2008, which would be bad ass. The Astros look unstoppable right now and it is hard to imagine them losing a game ever again at this point, but somehow, I still like the idea of the WHITE SOX winning outright today. They haven’t played a meaningful game all season because they ran away with the AL Central division title and Sunday will mark the first meaningful test of their ability to get off the mat after getting punched in the face. I think they respond. I suspect the home cooking will get their bats going a bit – at least once Houston is forced to get into their bullpen – and make this into a series. I suppose that if I believe that much in the White Sox power getting going, too I should probably also take the OVER.

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