CLEVELAND — Right-hander Lucas Giolito isn’t the cover boy of the White Sox’ rebuild, but he’d have a month on such a calendar if one existed — and not just because he’s tall and good-looking.
The 6-6 Giolito represents so much of where the Sox are trying to go and where they are right now. A former first-round draft pick and top-ranked prospect in Nationals’ organization, he was front and center — flanked by fellow right-handers Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning — in one of the big Sox trades for prospects in December 2016.
Just what he turns out to be is one of the most intriguing things to watch as the Sox’ season of hoped-for growth unfolds. They need him to be more of what he was in their 2-0 victory Tuesday against the Indians than what he was in his first full season with them in 2018.
‘‘What can I say about Lucas?’’ manager Rick Renteria said after Giolito blanked the Indians for 7 1/3 innings. ‘‘What can’t I say? He did a great job.’’
‘‘Great’’ isn’t an overstatement for Giolito, who wasn’t even good over 32 starts last season, allowing 4.67 walks per nine innings and compiling a 6.13 ERA. The Sox handed him a rotation spot in 2019, anyway, because he had shown enough flashes of good, and he showed flashes of great for the second time in his six starts this season by allowing three hits, striking out eight and walking three.
Relying almost exclusively on a fastball-changeup mix — he threw only four breaking balls, according to Statcast — Giolito (3-1) threw 70 of his 105 pitches for strikes. He threw 34 changeups and 67 fastballs, touching 95.9 mph and spotting it effectively up, down and on the inner half of the plate. The performance rivaled his first start, when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning March 31 against the Royals.
In that game, Giolito used all of his pitches. In this one, he and catcher James McCann saw the Indians struggling to stay on the changeup.
‘‘They weren’t adjusting to it, so we just stuck with that,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘I was like: ‘Why mess around? Let’s go after them with heaters and changeups off of that.’ And it worked out well.’’
Consistency will be the goal for Giolito, whose first and last starts are his only quality starts. He will take a 4.06 ERA into his next outing Sunday against the Blue Jays.
‘‘I’m just looking for him to gain the experience with the outings he has, continue to truly trust himself,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘He’s a young man , but he’s grown-up.’’
Yoan Moncada and McCann scored Yolmer Sanchez and Jose Abreu, respectively, with singles in the third and sixth innings against Jefry Rodriguez (0-2, 2.41 ERA).
Left-hander Jace Fry struggled again in relief of Giolito, allowing a single, double and walk to load the bases with two outs in the eighth. But closer Alex Colome struck out Carlos Santana looking on full count to end the inning.
Colome then pitched a perfect ninth to finish off his seventh save in seven opportunities.
Renteria was ejected during Santana’s at-bat for arguing a checked-swing call by third-base umpire Marty Foster.
The Sox have won the first two games of a four-game series against the Indians (18-16), who have scored one run in their last three games.