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Gamethread: White Sox at Mariners

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White Sox send Giolito to mound, hope to keep mashing against lefties

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Seattle Mariners
Nick Madrigal and White Sox are 2-0 against left-handed starters this year.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Even during a rocky start to the season, the Chicago White Sox’s prowess against left-handed starters hasn’t gone away. A perfect record against southpaws in 2020 has carried over, with both of the White Sox’s wins this year coming against lefties.

The White Sox (2-3) get another chance to spray baseballs around the field and protect that perfect record tonight, against Mariners (2-2) lefthander James Paxton. Chicago sends ace Lucas Giolito to the mound, at 9:10 p.m. CST.

Giolito’s start to a potential Cy Young season got off strong on Opening Day. His fastball averaged 95 mph and his changeup induced a 67% whiff rate, accounting for 12 of his 17 swings-and-misses. It led to six strikeouts through the first three innings.

Giolito (3.38 ERA) was pulled after 5 13 innings and 87 pitches, allowing two earned runs on two hits, two walks and eight strikeouts, though the Angels started to pound baseballs as the game went on. The Angels’ last four batted balls were all hard contact (95+ mph), including a Max Stassi home run. Given Giolito is still the only White Sox starter to pitch into the sixth inning this year, containing the hard contact later in the game and giving the bullpen a rest would be huge.

Paxton is set to make his season debut, returning to the Mariners after they traded him to the New York Yankees in 2018. His two-year stint in the Bronx was hampered by injuries in 2020, which limited him to five starts and a 6.64 ERA. His final three starts lined up more with his 4.37 FIP, recording a 4.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 16 13 innings, despite giving up three home runs.

Paxton relies heavily on his four-seamer (56.7% of the time), which hovered around 92 mph last year but has historically been closer to 95 mph. The Mariners are relying on a bounceback from a starter who owned a sub-4.00 ERA two seasons ago.

Here are today’s lineups:

Tony La Russa is mixing up the lineup again with the absence of Tim Anderson. Adam Eaton gets his first crack hitting leadoff, while Nick Madrigal moves back down to his normal No. 9 spot after going 0-for-4 on Monday.