Everywhere you turned Wednesday, everyone was asking the same question.
What’s wrong with Lucas Giolito?
Giolito seemed to be at a loss for an answer, too, after the Blue Jays’ 9-5 win at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday afternoon.
“I mean, I just got shelled,” Giolito said. “They hit the ball hard, hammered mistakes. That’s pretty much it.”
Asked about his frustration level after a couple of bad outings, Giolito corrected the questioner.
“It’s like five,” Giolito said. “It’s pretty brutal. Yeah, it [stinks]. Keep working, keep trying to make these adjustments.”
The White Sox’ Opening Day starter and 2019 All-Star who has finished in the top 11 in American League Cy Young voting three times has had one decent start in his last five. He has been staked to leads and hasn’t held them, and on Wednesday found himself in a 7-0 hole after four innings, giving his team a slim chance of completing a series sweep.
“The way we’re playing right now, the offense, the defense [coming around], I just have to give the team a chance to win and I’m failing to do that over and over,” Giolito said. “It’s very frustrating and so that’s why I’ve gotta just figure it out.”
The Sox’ rotation had seemingly come together with the return of Lance Lynn from the injured list and the consistent six-inning efforts from 36-year-old Johnny Cueto.
But Giolito, who lasted five innings and gave up a career-high 11 hits to the Jays including Alejandro Kirk’s homer on a 3-0 pitch and Bo Bichette’s grand slam — the 14th and 15th homers hit against him this season — has seen his ERA climb from 2.63 to 5.40 over his last five starts.
He allowed nine homers and has a 9.47 ERA in that stretch.
Giolito has tinkered with mechanical adjustments between starts and said progress has been made. But there is no sign of it in the results. His fastball velocity was down a tick, and location and stuff have both been subpar.
“A combination,” Giolito said. “Leaving too many pitches middle. Just got to figure it out. That’s it.”
The loss prevented the Sox from completing a sweep and dropped them a game below .500. The Orioles come to town for four games starting Thursday with the Sox having won six of their last nine games.
It was a rough day all around for the Sox, who lost shortstop Danny Mendick with a knee injury and Adam Engel with a sore hamstring.
As Giolito said, the Sox offense is getting better of late. Thirteen hits were recorded Wednesday, including three by Andrew Vaughn, who raised his average to .333. Vaughn is batting .455 in his last seven games.
Vaughn offered a vote of confidence for his struggling teammate.
“He’s got unbelievable stuff,” Vaughn said of Giolito. “He’s going to come out next start, and we all believe in him.”
Giolito, who had a short bout with COVID-19 in May, says he is fine physically. Manager Tony La Russa said the same thing.
“He’ll take the ball Monday [in Anaheim],” La Russa said.
“I know that when I’m right I am a good pitcher,” Giolito said. “A good starting pitcher who can go deep, strike guys out. So I know that. It’s just a matter of making it happen, making the adjustments that are necessary. Its been frustrating. I want to give the team a chance to win when I take the ball. I have not been doing that, and so that’s pretty much it. I’ve got to figure it out.”