Two third-place teams and two of baseball’s oldest franchises will play the first of a three-game series tonight at the legendary Fenway Park. The White Sox (36-39) and Red Sox (42-37) will go at it to start this new week of baseball. Currently, Boston is the favorite tonight, listed at -180.
Here is a more in-depth look at the matchup, including a look at the pitchers, recent performance, and the X-factors for tonight’s game.
We’ll start with the road team, where the White Sox will send their ace Lucas Giolito to the mound. The former No. 1 prospect has had a breakout season, going 10-2 with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. Most impressively, he has 104 strikeouts to only 29 walks in 85 1/3 innings. However, he is coming off of a start against the Cubs where he struggled, giving up six runs in a little over four innings.
The Red Sox will counter with Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been a mixed bag for a lot of the year. Rodriguez is currently 8-4 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He does, however, have 93 strikeouts to only 25 walks in 86 innings and is coming off of back-to-back seven-inning starts.
Both of these pitchers have experience against the opposing team this season. Pitching at home against the Red Sox, Giolito gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings back on May 2. Two days later in the same series, Rodriguez allowed just one run on six hits in six innings.
For Boston, the defending World Series champs have overcome a dreadful start to the season to put themselves back in the playoff picture. In the past couple of weeks, they have really turned a corner, winning eight of their last 11. However, two of those three losses came against the below-average Blue Jays, who beat the Sox in Boston to open up this homestand.
Meanwhile, the White Sox have come a long way since losing 100 games last season and now find themselves only a handful of games out of a Wild Card spot. They are 2-3 on their current road trip and recently dropped two out of three to the Rangers but have won 13 of their last 23 games overall.
The biggest thing for Chicago will be the performance of Giolito and whether he can bounce back from last week’s bad start. Before that game, he had five consecutive quality starts, including a complete game shutout at Houston against the first-place Astros. There is a direct correlation between Giolito’s performance and the rest of the team’s performance, as the White Sox are 6-1 in Giolito’s last seven road starts and 9-1 in his last 10 starts overall.
For Boston, their X-factor is third baseman Rafael Devers. Devers has had a breakout season, hitting .309 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI. Against Chicago, he is 6-for-18 with six RBI. The 22-year-old is a big reason the Red Sox are considered a playoff team again despite down seasons from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. If Devers can win the battles against Giolito, Boston’s lineup will benefit greatly.
While he has had few bad performances, Giolito’s history shows that he has a tough time immediately bouncing back from a poor start. I think even if he is a little better than he was last week, Boston’s solid lineup should be able to score enough runs before turning the game over to their questionable bullpen. I’ll take the Red Sox -180 to open up this series with a victory.