The Chicago White Sox are AL Central champions for the first time since 2008, and they will take on the Houston Astros in the 2021 ALDS.
It will be a best-of-five series, and the Astros are the home team. That means the Sox will play the first two games of the series in Houston.
The White Sox nearly clinched home-field advantage for the series with a late surge, but the Astros (95-67) finished two games better than Chicago.
The Astros vs. White Sox series begins Thursday.
White Sox odds vs. Astros
Here are the full series odds for Chicago vs. Houston at a few online sportsbooks in Illinois:
The Sox play at 3:07 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, in Houston. Astros are -134 favorite as of Thursday afternoon.
Here are Game 1 ALDS odds:
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Astros-White Sox starters
Lance Lynn will be the starting pitcher in Game 1 for the Sox. For the Astros, expect to see either Lance McCullers.
One name we didn’t mention above is Carlos Rodon, who has arguably been Chicago’s top pitcher this season. Rodon finished the season 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA.
But Rodon seems to be struggling with arm fatigue, as his fastball sat in the low 90s in his last outing despite firing five shutout innings. When he’s right, Rodon is hitting triple digits on the radar gun.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Rodon’s status recently:
“I think the plan now is for him to throw a bullpen maybe Tuesday, and (we’ll) check that out very carefully and fast-forward to when he would go out there and make a determination. But that could be a tough call. I mean, there’s no way to answer it today without flipping a coin. We just need to check him out Tuesday. And really, I think the roster doesn’t go in till Thursday morning, maybe see how he feels on Wednesday.
That’s not exactly a vote of confidence from Chicago’s skipper. As it stands now, we know that Lynn, Giolito and Dylan Cease will likely start the first three games in some order. But the fourth starter is a mystery.
Statistical comparison: White Sox vs. Astros
Let’s take a look at Chicago and Houston from a statistical perspective:
- Record: Astros 95-67; White Sox 93-69
- Expected record by run differential: Astros 101-61; White Sox 97-65
- Home record: Astros 51-30; White Sox 53-28
- Road record: Astros 44-37; White Sox 40-41
- Runs scored: Astros 863; White Sox 796
- Runs allowed: Astros 658; White Sox 636
- Record vs. teams with winning record: Astros 45-32; White Sox 27-29
- Team ERA: Astros 3.76; White Sox 3.73
- OPS: Astros .784; White Sox .757
- Home runs: Astros 221; White Sox 190
Two stats stand out here: Chicago’s struggles on the road and against good teams.
The White Sox are better at home than the Astros but are essentially average on the road. Stealing one game in Houston would be huge, as two of the final three games would be at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Also potentially concerning is the difference in record against teams above .500. The Astros swept the Sox in four games in Houston this season, though Chicago bounced back by taking two of three from them at home.
And, in fairness, the White Sox haven’t been fully healthy for the vast majority of the season. With the possible exception of Rodon, they are now.
Why Chicago is dangerous at full strength
Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jimenez only combined to play 216 games this season. Grandal and Robert combined for a whopping 7.3 WAR despite limited playing time.
On a per-game basis, Robert and Grandal were easily Chicago’s best-position players this season. Each missed significant time, and that has to be factored into season-long team statistics.
The Sox are also coming into this series hotter than the Astros, as they are 7-3 in their last 10 games compared to 4-6 on Houston’s end. However, whether or not momentum matters in the MLB Playoffs is debatable.
On paper, these teams appear evenly matched. But because the Astros are at home and have more of a track record of beating quality clubs, it makes sense that they are favored.
But both of these teams are good enough to win the World Series. MLB fans — and those who want to bet on the White Sox — are hoping for a similar result to 2005.