The Saturday MLB card features a lot of night games and some really interesting pitching matchups. One of those will be in Chicago, where Jake Odorizzi and the Houston Astros take on Lucas Giolito and the White Sox. Houston drew first blood in the series to improve to 5-0 against the Pale Hose in Friday night’s game. Will we see the same in tonight’s contest?

The White Sox are in the -110 range with a total of 8.5 for this one, so it looks like every bit of a coin flip in the eyes of the oddsmakers at MyBookie Sportsbook. Let’s see which side has the advantage.

Houston Astros

A neat and tidy 7-1 win felt like a continuation of the first half for the Astros. They scored more than enough runs to win the game and got a fine pitching performance from the starter. It was Lance McCullers that fired seven innings with 10 strikeouts against two walks in the victory.

Houston improved to 56-36 on the season and 43-22 against teams .500 or better. No other team in baseball has more than 37 wins in that split. The Astros were unable to widen their AL West lead, as Oakland walked off Cleveland, but every win pushes the Astros closer to a return to the postseason.

It is basically elementary at this point with the way that the Astros are playing. Houston has the best offense in baseball and 1.8 more fWAR than any other group of position players according to the FanGraphs calculation. Houston’s league-leading 19.1% K% has been a huge boost offensively, leading to a .339 wOBA and a 119 wRC+. Both marks lead the league by a fair margin.

Jake Odorizzi will hope to benefit from some of that run support. The 31-year-old has a 3.61 ERA with a 3.44 FIP in his 47.1 innings of work this season. Since returning from the IL on May 29, Odorizzi has a 2.29 ERA with a 2.84 FIP in seven starts. His first eight innings this season were rather ugly, but he’s been terrific since coming back, including just three earned runs allowed over his last five appearances. He hasn’t allowed a home run since the fourth inning of his June 9 start against Boston.

Chicago White Sox

The story is much different for the White Sox this season. They’ve beaten up on bad teams to be in first place in the AL Central, but have struggled when they’ve stepped up in class. The White Sox are 16-25 against teams .500 or better. That winning percentage ranks 21st in baseball. They are 38-11 against teams with losing records, but that does not help against the Astros.

Last night’s loss dropped the ChiSox to 31-15 at home. They are 23-21 on the road. Chicago is 18 games over .500 and 30-15 against the AL Central, so you can see exactly how they’ve built their eight-game lead in the division.

Injuries have played a big role offensively for the White Sox since before the season. Eloy Jimenez went down right before the regular season began. That lone loss was enough to overcome, but as the season has gone along, the White Sox have dealt with injuries to Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Jake Lamb, and the most recent big one is with Yasmani Grandal.

The White Sox are still fourth in fWAR and boast a top-five offense through it all, but they would certainly like the injury bugs to go away and bother somebody else.

At least the rotation has remained in tact for the most part. That includes Saturday starter Lucas Giolito, who has a 4.15 ERA with a 4.00 FIP in his 104 innings of work. Giolito was probably expected to have a better season and be talked about like the way people are talking Carlos Rodon and Lance Lynn as Cy Young contenders lined just behind Gerrit Cole. The home run has been Giolito’s bugaboo with 18 of those in 18 starts.

Astros vs. White Sox Free Pick

Giolito probably deserves a better fate this season. His 3.58 xFIP is suggestive that his home run total should regress a little bit. He’s struck out nearly 30% of opposing batters, though having a high strikeout rate against the Astros isn’t really an advantage. Odorizzi has been throwing the ball really well lately and the White Sox lineup looks like a shell of what it should.

Add it all up and we’ll look at the under tonight on the South Side.