The teams with the top two records in the American League square off on Friday when the Houston Astros and the Chicago White Sox meet to kick off the second half of their respective seasons. Chicago ended the first half of the season with a league-best five-game win streak. But the Astros have the potential to go on a run of their own and will look to kick-start one on the road to start this series.
Astros Hoping Offense Stays Hot
Houston had the best offense in Major League Baseball in the first half of the 2021 MLB season, scoring 496 runs in their first 92 games. Now, the Astros are looking to continue their hot hitting in the second half of the year against a team they might face in the playoffs in Chicago. But the Astros will need their pitching staff to be strong in this series, and they hope Lance McCullers can get their second half off to a strong start.
McCullers has gone 6-2 so far this season, with an ERA under 3.00. He has struggled with his control a bit, though, walking 41 batters in just under 80 innings for the season. If he continues to issue free passes, the Astros could be locked into a high-scoring affair coming out of the All-Star break.
Working in Houston’s favor for this series is their incredible road record on the year. The Astros are 26-17 on the road this season, with their 26 road wins being the second-most in the league in 2021. They are a team that seems to relish being the villain on the road, as evidenced by their series in New York against the Yankees, which has prepared them for almost any situation away from Houston.
White Sox Look to Continue Winning Ways
There was not a hotter team in Major League Baseball than the Chicago White Sox heading into the All-Star break. Chicago finished the first half of the season with five straight victories and will hope to keep winning this weekend against the Astros. But their strength of schedule in recent days may be a little misleading.
Chicago picked up those five straight wins against the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles, both of whom failed to crack 40 wins in the first half of the season. This weekend, the White Sox take on a much tougher opponent in the Astros and will need to bring their best to avoid their winning streak being snapped. They call on Dylan Cease to start on the mound for this game, who has a 7-4 record despite an ERA of 4.11.
The Pick: Astros -125
The Chicago White Sox have played some inspired baseball of late, but they did so against competition that isn’t even good enough to be considered mediocre. Against a Houston Astros team that can put up runs in bunches, expect the White Sox to be in for a rude awakening here.
The Astros should get the victory as slight favorites on the road.