In Game 1, the White Sox used a masterful performance by Lucas Giolito to take an early series lead. In Game 2, the White Sox fell behind in the first inning, and their ninth inning rally ultimately fell short. Those games set up today’s rubber match, and it is a big one, as the winner will advance to the ALDS.
Starting for the White Sox Dane Dunning, the 25-year-old rookie right-hander. In 34 major league innings (all in 2020), Dunning has a 3.97 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, and a 4.16 xFIP. Per FanGraphs, Dunning has provided 0.7 wins above replacement. Dunning made his debut on August 19, and he has played a significant role in the White Sox’s rotation. The back end of the rotation struggled immensely at the beginning of the season, but Dunning helped stabilize one of the team’s weaknesses. Today, Dunning is set to play a big part in the franchise’s most important game in 12 years.
Oakland’s starting pitcher will be Mike Fiers. This is the 10th major league season for the Athletics’ 35-year-old righty. In 2020, Fiers has a 4.58 ERA, a 4.94 FIP, 5.73 xFIP, rendering him a 0.6 WAR player, per FanGraphs. Under ordinary circumstances, Oakland may have used lefty Sean Manaea (4.50 ERA, 3.71 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, 1.1 fWAR), but the White Sox are not an ordinary team. Including the playoffs, the White Sox are 15-0 when facing a left-handed starting pitcher but only 21-26 when facing a right-handed starter.
Fiers does not walk many (6.2% walk rate), but he does not strike many out, either (14.4% strikeout rate, bottom 5% among major leaguers). Fiers uses his four-seamer more often than any other pitch, throwing it about 29% of the time. The four-seamer has been his most effective pitch this season, with hitters managing only a .275 xwOBA against it. This is an unusual case, as Fiers only averages about 88 mph on his fastballs, per Baseball Savant.
Here are today’s starting lineups:
This game will start at 2:10 CST, and ESPN will televise it. WGN 720, ESPN Radio, and WRTO 1200 will have the radio coverage. It is time to survive and advance. Let’s enjoy it, White Sox fans.