The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are going to come down to the wire for the AL Central Crown. Chicago sits two games ahead of Minnesota as the season enters its final week. The White Sox have seven games to play, and the Twins are down to only five.
It looks to be heavily weighted towards the White Sox, but where is the value? We will cover that and look at how the schedule plays out so that you know how to bet this if you decide to do so.
The White Sox, as you would expect, are heavy favorites at -1100 at most books. Minnesota is getting +550, and the Indians, who are hanging on for dear life, are at +3300.
The Indians are five games back, so we are going to leave them out of this even though they are playing the White Sox, so a sweep would give them a slim chance. They just need too much help.
Chicago has, by far, the more difficult schedule of the two teams. They play at Cleveland (four games) and then visit their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cubs, for three games to end the season.
Cleveland isn’t a playoff team at the moment, so these games are really important. They will throw Aaron Civale, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Triston McKenzie. No easy victories for Chicago, who will be happy to come out of the series 2-2.
The Cubs will throw Yu Darvish and Jon Lester, with the Sunday starter up in the air. If the Cubs have clinched the NL Central, expect a bullpen game on Sunday, which might be the saving grace for the White Sox.
Minnesota will play Detroit for two games and then visit the surging Reds, who will most likely be battling for their lives the last weekend. The Twins need to take both games from the Tigers to stay alive for the division.
Kenta Maeda will go against the Tigers on Wednesday, Tuesday is still undecided, and then Rich Hill, Michael Pineda and Jose Berrios against Cincinnati.
Berrios will most likely be saved if the game on Sunday is meaningless, as he will be the first starter in the playoffs. The Twins should take both games from Detroit, and, if the White Sox split with Cleveland, this could get real interesting.
Who to Bet
The big question for me is how the Cubs-White Sox series sets up. I think Chicago will have already clinched the division, meaning Darvish probably only throws 50 to 60 pitches and gets ready for the playoffs.
The White Sox may theoretically see two straight bullpen days on Saturday and Sunday, whereas the Twins will face a Reds team that has to win and will be throwing their best to try and make the playoffs.
I just do not think the White Sox are enough of a lock to be betting them at -1100. If they lose Monday to Cleveland and you can get them closer to -500 or so, I would do it. Leave anything greater than -600 alone as there is just no value.
The Twins definitely have a chance, but +550 seems a little low. If you see Chicago losing late Monday night, I would go ahead and grab that number as it will drop to +400 or so if the White Sox are only 1.5 games ahead in the division.
Cleveland’s number at +3300 is tempting but being back five games, they have to sweep the White Sox and then hope the Twins stumble to have any real chance. Their only saving grace is they have three straight games with the lowly Pirates to finish the season.
If you are an Indians fan and want to have some fun, throw $5 down and see what happens. Cleveland has the pitching staff to win seven straight to end the season and really make this interesting. But from a value perspective, I would sit out on throwing any money on Cleveland. It’s just too big of a longshot.