This year’s two American League Division Series (ALDS) pit the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays vs. the winner of the AL Wild Card game (Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees), and the AL Central champ Chicago White Sox vs. the winner of the AL West, the Houston Astros.
The Game Day’s gambling analyst Kevin Davis shares his projections and best bets for the White Sox-Astros matchup.
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Both Chicago and Houston have strong lineups. The Astros were the top scoring team in MLB this season, averaging 5.29 runs per game. The White Sox averaged 4.93 runs per game, the seventh-most in baseball. While Houston has the better lineup, both teams are close to evenly matched as Chicago has better starting and relief pitching. The Chisox bullpen has a 3.83 xFIP, the second lowest mark in MLB.
Below I’ll go over my model’s probabilities in all potential White Sox/Astros ALDS games before getting into prices for the series futures and my best bets.
White Sox vs Astros ALDS Game Projections
Game 1: Chicago at Houston
Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA)
Not only is the Houston Astros lineup good at producing runs, but they have an important ingredient in their special sauce. While the median MLB team averaged 8.62 strikeouts per game this season, the Astros averaged only 7.55,the second-fewest in the league.
Lance Lynn has been a strong pitcher for the Chisox this season partially based on his power pitching, averaging 10.09 strikeouts per nine innings with a 2.69 ERA. However, Lynn also had a 3.81 xFIP. The Astros have a path to victory if they can limit Lynn’s strikeouts and put the ball in play when runners are on base.
Houston’s starting rotation has been a liability this season, but Lance McCullers Jr., their likely Game 1 starter, has quietly been their ace. With a 3.16 ERA, 3.68 xFIP and low home run rate, McCullers will be tough on the White Sox.
As a result, the Astros should be slight favorites at home.
White Sox vs Astros Game 1 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 52.9%
White Sox vs Astros Game 1 Pick: Astros if -103 or better, White Sox if +120 or better
- Read our full White Sox vs Astros Game 1 Predictions & Best Bets.
Game 2: Chicago at Houston
Lucas Giolito (11-9, 3.53 ERA) vs Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA)
Lucas Giolito has been arguably the White Sox’s best pitcher over the last three seasons. You can usually count on him to pitch about six innings while allowing two runs. In Giolito’s lone start against the Astros this season, he was even better, pitching a complete game where he allowed only one earned run and had eight strikeouts.
This isn’t the regular season, though. It’s a playoff game on the road, where Giolito should have a tougher time. For Chicago to win, they will need to take advantage of Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez. Unfortunately for Chicago, Valdez was lights out in his first full season in the Astros rotation.
Valdez’s biggest strength for Houston this season has been his ability to go deep into games, averaging more than six innings per start. With the Astros bullpen looking vulnerable, I’m looking for them to rely on Valdez’s stamina and strength. This is why my model gives them a slight edge at home in Game 2.
White Sox vs Astros Game 2 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 51.1%
White Sox vs Astros Game 2 Pick: Astros if +103 or better, White Sox if +113 or better
- Read our full White Sox vs Astros Game 2 Predictions & Best Bets.
Game 3: Houston at Chicago
Luis Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA) vs Carlos Rodon (13-5, 2.37 ERA)
Despite being the No. 3 starter in Chicago’s rotation, I believe that Carlos Rodon is their best pitcher (2.37 ERA, 3.17 xFIP in 2021). While Rodon is not as much of an innings eater as his other counterparts in the Chisox rotation, he will be helped by his team’s strong bullpen.
The only worry the White Sox should have about Rodon is that much of his success can be tied to his elite strikeout rate (12.55 K/9 this season). If Houston can limit their strikeouts like they have all season, they can upset Chicago on the road.
Astros Game 3 starter Luis Garcia is certainly no slouch (3.30 ERA, 3.93 xFIP, 9.68 K/9), but as a rookie making his first career playoff start on the road, my model believes the White Sox should be heavily favored in Game 3.
White Sox vs Astros Game 3 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): White Sox 59%
White Sox vs Astros Game 3 Pick: White Sox if -133 or better, Astros if +155 or better
Game 4: Houston at Chicago (If Necessary)
Jose Urquidy (8-3, 3.56 ERA) vs Dylan Cease (13-7, 3.95 ERA)
While it is possible for either the Astros or White Sox to sweep the first three games, according to my model, there is a 75.7% chance that there will be a Game 4.
In a likely Game 4, the Astros are vulnerable against the White Sox. This is because they are relying on starting pitcher Jose Urquidy. On the surface Urquidy looks reliable as he had an 8-3 record this season with a 3.56 ERA. However, Urquidy’s 4.26 xFIP suggests that he should regress against a strong White Sox lineup.
On the road against Dylan Cease and the White Sox, my model believes that the Astros should be heavy underdogs in Game 4.
White Sox vs Astros Game 4 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): White Sox 58.2%
White Sox vs Astros Game 4 Pick: White Sox if -128 or better, Astros if +151 or better
Game 5: Chicago at Houston (If Necessary)
Lance Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5, 3.16 ERA)
According to my model, there is a 37.7% chance of a Game 5 in the ALDS. If this happens, I believe that it will be a rematch of Game 1 between Lance Lynn and Lance McCullers.
Regardless of how each team’s Sir Lance-A-Lot does in Game 1, I believe that the odds will be nearly identical to the odds in Game 1. As a result, the Astros should be slightly favored in a potential Game 5.
White Sox vs Astros Game 5 Projection (Kevin Davis Model): Astros 52.9%
White Sox vs Astros Game 5 Pick: Astros if -103 or better, White Sox if +120 or better
White Sox vs Astros ALDS Series Futures
White Sox vs Astros ALDS Winner Bets
Best Bet: Chicago White Sox ALDS Series Winner (+106) at FanDuel (would bet up to -106)
Wager: 2 Units
With Houston as a slight favorite in Games 1,2, and 5, it may seem surprising that they should be underdogs to win the ALDS. However, when you factor in that the White Sox should be heavily favored at home in Games 3 and 4, it makes sense that Chicago won the ALDS in 53.4% of my simulations.
FanDuel has made the Houston Astros a slight series favorite, so my best bet is the Chi Sox to win the series as small underdogs as they should be small favorites.
Kevin Davis Series Winner Model Projection: White Sox 53.4%
White Sox-Astros ALDS Series Winner Pick: White Sox if -106 or better, Astros if +124 or better
White Sox vs Astros ALDS Series Exact Score Bets
Best Bet 1: Chicago White Sox 3-1 Series Winner (+380) at FanDuel (would bet up to +365)
Wager: .5 Units
Best Bet 2: Chicago White Sox 3-0 Series Winner (+700) at FanDuel (would bet up to +675)
Wager: .5 Units
Without boring you with the math, let me explain how my model calculated the odds of each exact series score.
To figure out the chances of each exact series score, I simulated each potential ALDS game 100,000 times. After my simulations in Microsoft Excel, I counted the number of times that each series ended in a specific score.
The most common result for scenarios where the White Sox won the ALDS was them winning it 3-1 due to them splitting the first two games in Houston and sweeping Games 3 and 4, where they should be heavily favored.
For Houston, the most common result for simulations where they win the ALDS has them winning it 3-2 in 20.2% of my simulations. This is because they are slight favorites in all three of their home games and it is plausible that each home team wins each of their games.
To apply my numbers to the betting markets, I listed the breakeven odds in my model’s projections. If a price pays better than the breakeven odds, it’s a good bet. If it pays worse than the breakeven odds, it’s a bad bet.
Ultimately, because my model likes the White Sox to win the ALDS, it is unsurprising that the two Series Exact Score Bets are for them to either win 3-0 or 3-1 against the Astros.
Chicago has a chance for a series sweep if they win the first two games at Houston, and then win Game Three at home as heavy favorites. They also have a chance to win the ALDS 3-1 as they can split the first two games of the ALDS and then win Game 3 and Game 4 as heavy favorites at home.
White Sox vs Astros ALDS Prediction (Kevin Davis Model; Breakeven Odds in Parentheses):
- White Sox 3-0: 13.3% (+653)
- White Sox 3-1: 22.6% (+342)
- White Sox 3-2: 17.5% (+472)
- Astros 3-0: 11% (+805)
- Astros 3-1: 15.4% (+550)
- Astros 3-2: 20.2% (+396)