My free play is on the Chi White Sox at 8:05 ET.
The Chicago White Sox ended an 11-year postseason drought in 2020 with a wild card appearance. They then ran away with the American League Central title last season with a 93-69 record, winning the division by 13 games over Cleveland. Chicago was a heavy favorite to win the division in 2022 but the White Sox have so far underachieved (more in a bit). The Texas Rangers appeared in back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011 (lost both) but continued to be competitive, making the playoffs in THREE of the next five seasons. However, it's been FIVE consecutive losing seasons for Texas since 2017, including going 60-102 (.370) last season.
The White Sox arrived in Arlington last night for a four-game series with the Rangers, having won SEVEN of their last 10.and at 53-51, had climbed within TWO games of the AL Central-leading Twins. Chicago was also just two games back for the AL's third wild card spot, in what has become a crowded field. Texas was 41-49 at the break, putting them on pace to win 74 games, 14 more than in 2021. However, after splitting their first four games of the second half, the Rangers had lost SEVEN of 10, including just getting swept in a three-game series at home by Baltimore (Texas scored just SEVEN runs in the three games). However, the Rangers prevailed 3-2 on Thursday. Friday's pitching matchup will be Dylan Cease (11-4, 2.01 ERA) and Glenn Otto (4-7, 5.50 ERA).
Cease had a breakout season in 2021, going 13-7 with a 3.91 ERA. was just 4-3 (3.14 ERA) after 12 starts, but the White Sox were 8-4. However, he's been near-unhittable since, going 7-1 (team is 8-1) in his last nine starts, allowing only four ERs over 53.2 innings (that's an ERA of 0.67!). Otto made six starts last season, going 0-3 (team was 1-5) with a 9.26 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. His ERA is 'down' to 5.50 in 2022 and his WHIP to 1.46 but he takes the mound tonight 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA over his last seven starts (Rangers are 0-7!). The price is a little steep but Cease over Otto seems like a 'no-brainer!'