White Sox’ Lucas Giolito may be trending toward good finish to rough year
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Maybe Lucas Giolito is on to something.
In the Sox right-hander’s last five starts, he has looked more like a reliable starting pitcher than the erratic slinger who routinely missed his catcher’s target by a foot or more during the first half of the season while building a massive walk total that still has him leading the American League.
In five starts against the Astros (six innings, two earned runs), Royals (6„, no earned runs), Angels (six innings, three earned runs), Blue Jays (4„ innings, five earned runs) and Rays (seven innings, one earned run) from July 8 to Aug. 3, Giolito has resembled the pitcher who went 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts after his call-up from Class AAA Charlotte last Aug. 23. He continued on that path during spring training but went off the rails after his first start of the season in Kansas City.
“I can’t go back and change some of my poor outings earlier this year. All I can do is learn from those and try to give it my best these last 10 or whatever I might have,” said Giolito (7-8, 5.97 ERA), who takes a 3.19 ERA over his last five outings into his start for the Sox against the Yankees and Luis Severino (14-5, 3.08) in the third game of their series Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. “So at the end of the year my baseball card stats are a little messed up from the early part of the season. But I mean, it’s all in the past. All I can do is control what I do each day to improve and hopefully do a really good job in my starts.’’
Giolito, who has walked 68 batters and also leads the AL with 80 earned runs allowed, called himself “one of the least consistent starting pitchers on the team, if not the league’’ Monday. After averaging 6.8 strikeouts to 2.4 walks per nine innings in 2017, he’s averaging 5.7 strikeouts to 5.1 walks in 2018. Of late, he has minimized problems in the first innings, which had been a bugaboo.
“Every inning after he comes in during his outings, you see he has an idea, he’s focused on what he’s going to do,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s very prepared. Time and experience are giving him more and more comfort. He’s truly gaining more and more confidence and belief in himself.’’
He’s finding the plate more in the recent stretch, showing an effective change to go with his curve and getting some swings and misses on elevated fastballs.
“I’m starting to feel a lot more consistent out there,’’ Giolito said. “Feeling more comfortable. Going out there and giving the team a better chance to win every time I pitch.’’
With 120‰ innings pitched, Giolito is third on the Sox staff behind James Shields and Reynaldo Lopez. He leads the team with seven wins — Shields, Lopez and Dylan Covey are next with four — for a 41-71 team.
“Despite the season we’re having, not being as competitive as we would have liked at this point, the fact that fans are into [the rebuild] . . . they want to see us be successful,’’ Giolito, 24, said. “But at the same time, they understand the whole process side of things and how things haven’t gone the way we wanted.
“There’s a very bright future and us as players, especially young players like me, just trying to learn something from every day. Whether it’s good or bad, whether I played well or not, I always learn something and take it with me for the future.’’