Los Angeles Angels (+137) at Chicago White Sox (-147, 7 o/u)
White Sox ace Chris Sale (9-7, 3.52 ERA) is mired in one of the worst slumps of his career. The usually dominant lefty will look to get back on track tonight when Chicago (51-58, 26-26 Home) hosts the Los Angeles Angels (59-51, 23-28 Away) at U.S. Cellular Field (8:10 Eastern).
Sale hast lost three of his last four starts and hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in his last two. He allowed a season-high 12 hits to the Red Sox to close out July and gave up seven runs in just 5.1 innings in his last outing against the Rays.
The erstwhile Cy Young contender doesn’t have much of an explanation for his recent struggles, telling the Associated Press, “I feel fine … My arm feels good, my body feels good, I feel loose. It’s just not showing up. I don’t know what it is.”
Sale’s struggles mirror that of his team, which sits last in the AL Central, 14.5 games back of the Kansas City Royals. Chicago was swept by the division-leading Royals in their last series and have now lost six of seven.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, seems to be back in a rhythm. The team had lost six straight and nine of ten, but rebounded by taking two of three games from Cleveland and Baltimore in their last two series. The Angels once held a comfortable lead for the first Wild Card spot in the AL, but have seen the piping hot Blue Jays pip them by half a game. They still hold down the second Wild Card slot, stretching their lead to three games over the Orioles thanks to a 5-4 extra innings win last night. a three-game edge over the Orioles.
Matt Shoemaker (5-7, 4.01 ERA) is scheduled to get the start for the Angels tonight; he has earned a no-decision in four of his last five starts, but has a sparkling 1.67 ERA in his last three. He gave up five hits against the Indians last time out while striking out a whopping ten batters over just six innings.
It’s hard to think that Sale’s struggles will carry on for the rest of the year, but he hasn’t been himself lately and that could certainly continue for another game or two. With Shoemaker trending in the opposite direction and pitching the best he has all season, the Angels’ moneyline offers the best value.
Pick: Angels (+137).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Matt Shoemaker”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)