MINNEAPOLIS — Lucas Giolito, who pitched in his first All-Star Game two years ago, had some very important advice for Carlos Rodon, who’s going to his first one next week.
“The day before, don’t sleep in too much because you’ll miss the gifting station,” Giolito told Rodon on Monday. “Companies set up booths and give out free stuff — clothing, merchandise. You get free stuff.”
Free stuff! Yes!
“I remember my wife being really pissed at me because I slept in and missed most of it,” Giolito told the Sun-Times. “I said, ‘Don’t do that, Carlos. You don’t want Ashley to get upset.’ ”
The White Sox’ Opening Day starter on a staff of “five aces,” as he puts it, Giolito isn’t having an All-Star season in 2021. After finishing in the top six in Cy Young voting in each of the last two seasons, he’ll take a 6-6 record and 4.20 ERA into his final start before the All-Star break when he faces the Orioles on Saturday.
“More often than not, I’m giving my team a chance to win,” Giolito said. “But my body of work is not up to my standards. I didn’t give us a chance in the Fenway game (one-plus innings, eight runs allowed on April 19 against the Red Sox) and Sunday (six runs and 10 hits allowed at Detroit). We have a very good team, we’re in first place and I’m happy to contribute. I just want to tighten up things and get back to doing what I can do.”
Spin rates are down all over, and a light has been shined on Giolito’s lower rates since the Twins’ Josh Donaldson homered against him in the first inning of a Sox victory on June 29. Donaldson yelled “It’s not sticky anymore!” after crossing the plate; Giolito took issue after the game and Donaldson went on a lengthy rant, calling Giolito out and confronting him in the parking lot.
“The parking lot confrontation, there was a conversation where he’s telling his side and I heard him out. considering I had aired him out in the media,” Giolito said. “Thought I’d hear his side of things and call it a day. That’s it.”
Say what you want about his spin rates, Giolito says — his stuff is still good. He points to the 22 swings and misses by the Tigers on Sunday.
“I’ve got no issues with my stuff — I’ll make that very clear,” he said. “I had a lot of swings and misses. Didn’t make good pitches on some situations. But you’re going to see that around the league, adjusting to a new normal. But for me personally, I’m not having any issues.
“It is what it is. The league decided [monitoring for foreign substances] was an important thing to take care of. OK. I’d love to see the baseball addressed. A good, consistent baseball will take care of a lot of this other noise.”
The bigger issue for Giolito on Sunday, he said, was not finding rhythm. He had pitched to a 2.94 ERA over eight starts before Sunday’s, including six innings of three-run ball in the Donaldson game and two runs over six innings at Pittsburgh in his start before that.
An infield single to start Sunday’s game and a jam-shot single “let frustration set in,” he said, “instead of trusting my rhythm and how good my stuff was and letting it fly.”
“In the fourth inning, I let it fly, struck out the side and hit a groove,” he said. “I didn’t think about sequencing. Just throw it. That’s what I do.”
Said manager Tony La Russa: “Lucas is one of those guys that feels responsibility, trying so hard, and those are the guys you admire the most. They want to be the horse and they feel that responsibility, and sometimes they’re unfair to themselves. Just be yourself, do the best you can.”