The Boston Red Sox will bring the best record in baseball to Chicago's South Side when they visit the White Sox on Thursday night to open a four-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Boston (92-42) sits atop the American League East and is on pace to win 111 games, which would mark the best regular season in franchise history. The Red Sox boast an incredible 36-13 record since July 2.
Meanwhile, Chicago (53-80) is in the midst of a rebuild. But the White Sox have shown positive signs for the future by winning five of their last six games, 11 of 15 and 16 of 26.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria is eager to see his young team compete against the best of the best.
"Is this one of the things you use in order to evaluate them? Absolutely," Renteria said. "It's like even if you are in the minor leagues and you have a top-notch hitter on one side and one of the top-notch pitchers on the other side, you want to use those matchups to give you a better sense of how they square up and fall into your evaluation.
"Certainly, when we play good games, you want to use that as a measuring stick as to where you are at in your development."
Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello (15-7, 4.18 ERA) will make his 28th start. He is looking to post a strong outing after enduring some turbulence over the past six weeks. Since July 13, he is 4-4 with a 5.72 ERA.
The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner is 11-9 with a 4.30 ERA in 24 career starts against the White Sox. He has faced Chicago once this year, allowing three runs in six innings and picking up a loss on June 10 at Fenway Park.
Boston has fared well in the second half despite inconsistency from Porcello, the bullpen and other players.
"I believe in wins," Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. recently said to the Boston Herald. "As long as we continue to win, I don't care how ugly it is."
For Chicago, right-hander Lucas Giolito (10-9, 5.85 ERA) will make his 27th start. The 24-year-old has recorded four quality starts in his past five outings, limiting opponents to a .209 batting average during that span.
The White Sox still envision a bright future for Giolito, who has struggled with command this season but recently has shown more caution around the plate. He has issued 11 walks in his last six starts (1.83 walks per outing) after issuing 64 walks in his first 20 starts (3.2 per outing).
"I think a couple of things," Renteria said. "He's commanding the strike zone a lot better. I think his confidence has continued to grow. What comes first, the chicken or the egg -- I think for him, it's maybe a combination of both.
"He's been able to execute. He's been able to get himself out of some different situations, learning all that process, and I think he's just starting to trust himself more and more every time he goes out."
This will be Giolito's first career appearance against the Red Sox.