Billy J’s Tuesday MLB Pick – Houston Astros @ Chicago White Sox

Our in-house MLB expert, Billy J (+10.61 Units), gives his best bet for today!

Yesterday there were so many great pitching matchups that we didn’t even look ahead. In yesterday’s column, the pitching matchup that we focused on was in Miami where Sandy Alcantara fueled his National League Cy Young campaign with a dazzling seven inning performance with no earned runs and seven strikeouts. At this time, Alcantara has moved to -450 to win the award and his next best challenger in Corbin Burnes of the Brewers went from +800 to +1200 overnight. What a performance by Alcantara.

So why the mention and flashback to yesterday’s column and Alcantara? Well, it’s always nice to point out a win here in the column as that total game under 6.5 runs really wasn’t in jeopardy at any point. It is now time to switch gears and move to the American League Cy Young race. The top two contenders are facing each other today in a mid-August showdown.

For the Astros, they will task Justin Verlander (15-3, 1.85 ERA) to start game two of this four-game set in Chicago. What is there left to say about the 39-year-old Verlander who is showing no signs of slowing down after he has recovered from his Tommy John surgery in October 2020 and missed the entire 2021 season. Verlander leads the majors in ERA, WHIP, and Wins. We can go deeper into all the other superlatives and metrics for Verlander, but I think you get the picture.

Before tonight’s matchup gets underway, Verlander is the odds-on favorite right now in Caesars Sportsbook at -175 and will look for his third award in his many seasons. The biggest challenger on the board will be the opposing starter in tonight’s matchup in Dylan Cease (12-5, 1.96 ERA). Cease currently sits at +250 in Caesars Sportsbook and has gradually moved his way up in the last few months. Just recently he passed Rays left-handed ace Shane McClanahan who is trending in the wrong direction and is currently at +550 odds to win the award.

Cease in his last start factored in as the losing pitcher as he only gave up one earned run against the Royals on August 11. His streak of 14 games in a row with one earned run or less will be put on the line today. Of those 14 games during that streak, Cease did not allow an earned run in eight of those starts. Cease has been a strikeout machine as well as he is now third in the majors with 174 punchouts.

With two of the best this season facing off tonight and vying for the Cy Young award, how do we approach this clash of the titans? For starters, the over/under sits at 7 total runs. Yesterday’s matchup with Alcantara versus Joe Musgrove of the Padres was at 6.5 runs and we jumped all over that under. There may be that half-run cushion due to the inept offense of the Marlins, but either way this value is too good to pass up. The expectation here is both starters will go deep into this game and trade zeroes on the scoreboard.  

Verlander was human in his last start in which he gave up three earned runs to the division rival Rangers. Prior to that start, Verlander had gone seven straight starts giving up one earned run or less. Verlander’s last hiccup was a home start against the White Sox on June 18 in which he gave up seven total runs in which four were earned. In that start the Astros lost 7-0 and Verlander lost his third decision of the season.

One would think Verlander has a little revenge on his mind. We tend to see Verlander at his best when the lights are the brightest. I fully expect a pitcher’s duel like most and won’t overthink it. Cease will look to extend the streak of one earned run or less to 15 games and try to propel the White Sox in the American League Central standings where they sit just two games behind the Guardians. I’m jumping a low under again today and punching in the bet early as the line is already -120 and that can lead to the line perhaps getting to 6.5 runs as there are currently 68 percent of the bets on the under as of this writing.

The Pick: Under 7 runs -120 on Caesars Sportsbook to win 1.5 Units

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