These two teams played last weekend in Chicago with the White Sox taking three of four games at Guaranteed Rate Field. The White Sox have built a 4.5-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central division race while the Tigers sit 12 games back with a 26-36 overall record.
Can Detroit get some revenge with a win over the first-place White Sox at Comerica Park on Friday night?
Giolito relying less on fastball in 2021Right-hander Lucas Giolito is scheduled to toe the rubber for the White Sox in their series opener in Detroit on Friday. While his win-loss record doesn’t quite show it, the 26-year-old has pitched well through his first 12 starts, going 5-5 with a 3.87 ERA.
Co-host Lucas Giolito got ejected for the second time in his career tonight for arguing strikes from the dugout🤣 pic.twitter.com/UOjSlDCEha— The Chris Rose Rotation (@RoseRotation) June 4, 2021
Giolito has turned into a reliable innings-eater in Chicago, pitching into the sixth inning or later in 10 of his 12 outings. The White Sox right-hander made his last start against the Tigers, allowing four runs in seven innings of work. He took a tough-luck loss despite striking out nine batters and walking none on the night.
Giolito’s peripherals have been consistent since his breakout season in 2019. Since then, he’s relied more on his changeup to keep hitters off-balance and that has been the case once again this year (37.2 percent). In fact, Giolito is relying on his heater less than ever, throwing the pitch a career-low 45.1 percent of the time in 2021. The White Sox right-hander comes in striking out 11.24 batters and walking 3.10 batters per nine innings of work.
Giolito’s lone start of the season against the Tigers came back on April 27 when he allowed four runs on five hits in 6 ⅔ innings to take the loss. The White Sox veteran has had mixed results in 11 career starts versus Detroit, going 5-4 with a 4.45 ERA but he is 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts on the road at Comerica Park. Per Baseball Savant, current Tigers are batting just .248 in 118 plate appearances off of Giolito coming into Friday’s matchup.
Skubal striking out batters at elite rateDetroit will open the series by handing the ball to emerging left-hander Tarik Skubal, who will be making his second straight appearance against Chicago. In his previous outing, the Tigers’ southpaw set a career-high with 11 strikeouts in five innings of one-run ball. Skubal has surrendered two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts while striking out 37 batters in 21 innings of work. He’s posted at least eight strikeouts in every start during that span, making him the fourth rookie since 2010 to accomplish the feat.
As was the case in the minor leagues, the Tigers’ rookie has continued to fan hitters at a high rate at the MLB level. In 86 career innings, Skuball has posted a healthy 10.99 K/9 strikeout rate while walking a respectable 3.87 batters per nine innings of work. The main problem for the young lefty has been his inability to keep the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. Skubal owns a ground ball rate of only 28 percent and has given up 2.30 HR/9 over his MLB career, including a 2.17 mark this season.
Skubal is 1-1 with a career 6.43 ERA in two starts versus Chicago. According to Baseball Savant, the current White Sox roster has hit Skubal for a healthy .381 batting average in 24 plate appearances ahead of Friday’s contest.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Getting Detroit at this price should feel like a bargain, especially after the White Sox took three of four from the Tigers in Chicago last week. Skubal looks the part of a future ace on the mound in Detroit. The Tigers’ lefty has flashed a penchant for missing bats at an elite rate and he’s been putting it all together over his last four starts, which includes an 11-strikeout performance last time out against the White Sox. While Giolito has pitched well this season, he’s struggled at times in his career against the Tigers, making this price too hard to pass up. Take the Tigers to come out on top at home in this AL Central showdown on Friday evening.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are pegged for eight runs but runs could be hard to come by for both teams in this one, especially while the starters are in the game. Skubal is pitching the best baseball of his young MLB career and Giolito has been tough to score on all year long. The White Sox right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning or later in 10 of his 12 starts while allowing two earned runs or fewer seven times during that span. Look for this game to stay under the projected total on Friday in Detroit.