Losers of two straight on the first leg of their second West Coast road trip this month, the White Sox send Lucas Giolito to the mound tonight in his home territory in an effort to avoid a sweep, and a return to 14 games worse than .500, their lowest point of the season, last reached on May 14. Los Angeles counters with Jaime Barría, a soft-tossing righty with a 2.14 ERA, making his fifth start of the year after spending the first two months of the season as a long man out of the bullpen.
Giolito has typically pitched well in what is more or less his hometown — so much as one can call Los Angeles County and its surrounding municipalities a “city” — running a 3.48 ERA over four career starts in Angel Stadium. He most recently twirled six innings of two-run ball there almost a year ago to the day, on June 27, 2022. After a rocky May, Giolito has been excellent to this point in June, working to a 1.50 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 24 IP. Since allowing seven runs on 12 hits in Pittsburgh during his second start of the season, Giolito has gone at least six innings in 11 of 14 starts and has yet to give up more than four runs in a single outing.
Barría has been a constant in Los Angeles’ staff as a swingman in recent years, racking up 60 starts and 56 relief appearances since 2018. He butters his bread throwing a mid-80s slider just about half of the time, and while it doesn’t feature traditionally “nasty” movement, the way he grips and spins the ball induces a healthy about of seam-shifted wake, which gives it a little bit of unconventional movement that hitters have difficulty picking up. More importantly, he commands the pitch quite well, using it more like a cutter to fill up the strike zone up and generate called strikes, foul balls, and weak contact, rather than preying on the kinds of swings-and-misses off the plate that Sox hitters are so susceptible to. Not that that should be any comfort, as current Sox hitters have a .388 OPS over 74 total plate appearances against Barría.
To that end, Pedro Grifol’s lineup remains much the same as its been in recent days, save for Zach Remillard, who’s taken Elvis Andrus’ place at the keystone after entering as a late sub each of the last two games. The decision to continue to start players who are clearly not major-league caliber players over their positional counterparts in the minor leagues who might still actually be major-league caliber players (looking at you, Oscar, Lenyn, and Carlos) is just that: A decision.
As one would expect, Shohei Ohtani is in his usual DH spot in the Angels lineup today. Sources inside the organization tell South Side Sox that Ethan Katz was seen poring over video with his pitching staff this morning in one final attempt to communicate the proper way to approach the likely two-time MVP on the mound:
Mike Trout is also back in the lineup, as are seven other hitters who, fortunately, are neither Shohei Ohtani nor Mike Trout:
First pitch is scheduled for 8:38 p.m. CT, with the usual broadcasts available on NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN AM 1000. See you all in the comments!