Dunning gets start for Sox in win-or-go-home Game 3 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The team announced Thursday morning, just hours before Game 3, that the rookie right-hander will be the first pitcher to take the ball for the South Siders as they look to win their first playoff series since the 2005 World Series.
Dunning had a mostly impressive rookie campaign, with a 2.33 ERA in his first five major league starts. But things didn't go so well in his final two outings of the regular season. He allowed four runs in four innings against the Cleveland Indians, then gave up five runs, four of which were earned, in three innings against the Crosstown-rival Cubs. Dunning finished the season with a 3.97 ERA in seven starts.
Though Dunning impressed plenty and was probably the team's third best starting pitcher this season, he is not the elite arm that top-of-the-rotation starters Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel proved to be, creating a significant drop-off in the caliber of starting pitcher from the first two games of this series to the third, which has the highest stakes with the season on the line for both teams.
But Dunning likely won't be asked to throw five, six or seven innings, and the day could be a bullpen day of sorts, with manager Rick Renteria saying Wednesday that all hands are on deck in this elimination game for the White Sox.
The South Side relief corps has been terrific all season, and they are well rested, even after Keuchel lasted just 3.1 innings in Game 2, thanks to Jimmy Cordero logging 2.2 innings of relief Wednesday. In rookies Matt Foster, Codi Heuer and Garrett Crochet, not to mention the more experienced Aaron Bummer, the White Sox 'pen is stocked with arms that can go more than one inning. Traditional starting pitchers Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodón will be available, as well.
The A's, meanwhile, are starting right-hander Mike Fiers. Lefty Sean Manaea could be considered the team's better option, but the White Sox have been dominant against left-handers this season, including in the first game of this series against southpaw Jesús Luzardo.