The Houston Astros (40-24, 17-10 home) battle the Chicago White Sox (30-32, 17-15 away) in Game 2 of a three-game series in the Lone Star State. Houston tagged Chicago for 13 runs in the series-opener, defeating the White Sox 13-3 on Friday night.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. EST inside Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. The Astros are favored (-230), and the over-under total is eight runs.
What to Know – Chicago White Sox
The banged-up White Sox continue to battle to keep their record around .500, going 5-5 over their last ten games. Chicago sits in third place in the American League Central, five-games back of the leading Minnesota Twins.
Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto (0-3, 3.53 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) takes the hill for the visitors. The 36-year-old tries to earn his first victory of the season after failing over the first six attempts this season. Cueto has pitched 35.2 innings, allowing 14 earned runs on 34 hits and nine walks, with 28 strikeouts.
With a trio of starters on the shelf (Tim Anderson, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez), the White Sox offense will have to lean on the hitting of veteran Jose Abreu and Luis Robert. The 35-year-old Abreu leads the White Sox in home runs (9), runs batted in (30), and runs scored (34). Robert’s .282 batting average has led to 29 runs scored and a team-best 11 stolen bases.
The White Sox average 4.1 runs per game behind an offense that ranks ninth in the MLB with a .251 team batting average. Chicago’s pitching staff sits 21st in the majors with a 4.17 team earned run average.
What to Know – Houston Astros
The Astros own one of the best records in baseball and have their sights on a return to the postseason and a deep playoff run. Houston, like the White Sox, is an even 5-5 over its past ten games but owns a comfortable nine-game lead in the AL West.
Right-hander Justin Verlander (8-2, 1.94 ERA, 0.81 WHIP) can secure an MLB-best ninth win with a strong outing on Saturday. The eight-time all-star continues to twirl it on the mound at the age of 39. Verlander’s been impressive this month, logging three starts with a sparkling 1.71 ERA and a 2-0 record.
Yordan Alvarez has taken care of business at the plate this year, hitting .316 with a team-high 18 home runs and 47 RBI. Kyle Tucker has become one of the best hitters in this lineup, sitting second on the team with 14 home runs and 41 RBI.
Houston is 18th in the MLB with a .239 team batting average, scoring 4.3 runs per contest. The Astros pitching staff ranks third in the MLB and second in the AL with a 3.03 team ERA.
The Pick is In
The Astros should feast on the veteran Cueto, and Chicago will be hard-pressed to get many runs across against Verlander at home. Houston coasts to an easy victory in this one behind the pitching of Verlander and key hitting of the Astros’ strong lineup.
The Pick: Houston Astros ML