HOUSTON — White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn will start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, manager Tony La Russa announced.
Lynn was the least surprised person in the house.
“Last week,” Lynn said when asked when he knew he would be La Russa’s choice against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr.
Lucas Giolito will start Game 2, La Russa said. Beyond that, nothing is set although La Russa mentioning Dylan Cease as a possibility for Game 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field felt quite certain. And La Russa didn’t rule out bringing Lynn back on three days of rest for a Game 4 start Monday in the best-of-five series. Because of days off Saturday and Tuesday, Giolito would then be a possibility on four days of rest for Game 5, if necessary, next Wednesday in Houston.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon’s availability is still being evaluated, La Russa said.
When Lynn was lined up before Giolito in the season-ending series against the Tigers, the writing was on the wall for him to pitch before Giolito in the ALDS. But with Lynn, 33, dealing with a sore knee that landed him on the injured list in September, the Sox wanted to be certain he was fit to handle a potentially heavy workload.
He said he can handle the short rest, if needed.
“Everything feels great,” Lynn said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Lynn (11-6, 2.69 ERA) snapped a nine-start winless streak, earning his first victory since July 25 in Milwaukee with five innings of one-run ball Friday in a 10-1 win over the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.
While Lynn was at his best at home this season, going 7-3 with a 2.56 ERA in 17 starts, he wasn’t bad on the road, either, going 4-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 11 starts. He also had the lowest ERA by a Sox pitcher since Chris Sale (2.36) in 2014.
But the Astros have had his number recently, and his career record against them is 5-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts). He allowed six runs, eight hits and one walk and struck out six in four innings in one of his worst starts this season at Minute Maid Park on June 19. The Astros clipped him for 15 earned runs and 20 hits, including five home runs, over 11⅔ innings in 2020, when Lynn pitched for the Rangers.
Giolito (11-9, 3.53 ERA) was 4-3 with a 2.65 ERA in the second half, and he was 7-3 with a 3.25 ERA on the road.
Shortstop Tim Anderson shrugged off talk about the Sox winning a weak division.
“Everybody’s going to have opinions; everybody’s going to talk,” Anderson said. “Everybody’s going to say we haven’t played a good team, but it’s baseball. You show up any given day, and any team could beat any team.”
Roster announced Thursday
If Dallas Keuchel makes the 26-man playoff roster, which will be announced at 10 a.m. Thursday, it’s more likely as a reliever. La Russa was noncommittal.
“The last two spots are really critical,” La Russa said. “You need a crystal ball that you don’t have. So I’m not making any comment about the roster until we submit it.”