CLEVELAND — Lucas Giolito doesn’t want to be the weakest link in the White Sox rotation.
Once the ace of the staff, a 2019 All-Star and three-time Opening Day starter since that season, Giolito is still gathering himself after giving up seven runs over three-plus innings in the Sox’ 21-5 slaughter at the hands of the Astros Thursday. The loss gave the Sox a split of a four-game home series after they won the first two games.
“It’s obviously a tough year for me personally and for the team up until this point,” Giolito told the Sun-Times in Cleveland. “It’s tough because that was a series we wanted to win, I took the ball the last day and it’s my job to give us a chance to win. It didn’t happen and I put us in a horrible hole for the rest of the game.”
Giolito is second in innings among Sox starters with 116 1⁄3 innings behind ace Dylan Cease but he will take a 5.34 ERA into his next start at the Orioles Tuesday. Lance Lynn has a 5.30 ERA in 71 1⁄3 innings, but Lynn’s ERA over his last six starts is on the upswing at 3.06. Giolito has a 7.39 ERA in his last six starts with 42 hits and 12 walks allowed over 28 innings.
“It’s been a lot of stuff this year trying to work through,” Giolito said. “Mechanically, physically.”
Giolito and pitching coach Ethan Katz are close from their days together when Katz coached him in high school. Giolito said he “feels bad” for Katz, knowing the amount of hours Katz has devoted to trying to fix him.
“I feel fine,” Giolito said. “Ideally I’d like for the ball to be coming out better. You deal with what you’ve got. Even when I’m not at my best, stuff wise there are ways to navigate lineups and get outs.”
Cy Young candidate Cease and Johnny Cueto would likely be the Sox’ Game 1 and 2 starters if the playoffs were to start today and the Sox were in them. At 61-59 going into their game against the Guardians Saturday, they face an uphill climb.
Giolito is facing one as well.
“At this point all I can control is putting in the work in my days between starts and be as prepared as possible,” Giolito said, “and then the big thing is going out and trusting my stuff and executing pitches.”
Robert returns to lineup
Center fielder Luis Robert was penciled into the lineup for Saturday’s game, which was delayed at the start by rain. Robert has missed the last seven starts due to a bruise in his left wrist.
“It’s going to be sore, depends on how much it alters the swing,” manager Tony La Russa said. “You’re not damaging it by swinging with it. He wants to try it. Like the fact he’s trying to make it work.”
Jimenez in there
Eloy Jimenez said he hurt his right knee over-swinging in eighth inning of the team’s 5-2 loss Friday, prompting his exit.
“But I feel really good, and I’m playing,” he said Saturday.
Jimenez was penciled in as the designated hitter.
Anderson gets some work
Shortstop Tim Anderson (left wrist) did some work on the field, picking up balls barehanded and throwing across the infield. Anderson could return in the last two weeks of the regular season.
“Keep his arm ready, get his legs going, keep him in shape,” La Russa said. “Conditioning.”