Lucas Giolito has had his fair share of up and downs throughout his professional career. After the 2018 season, fans were all but ready to write him off. They had their reasons. A 6.13 ERA, -0.1 WAR, and a 6.49/4.67 K/BB ratio will do that.
For whatever reason, I always had a feeling Giolito would figure his stuff out. Maybe it’s the optimism in me that has left me crushed more often than not. But every time Giolito talked about the steps hes taken to becoming a better pitcher, I believed everything he had to say. That said, 2019 would still be a make or break year for the 24-year-old righty. And what a year it’s been so far.
I know I know. 7 starts isn’t even 1/4th of his total starts that Giolito will make in 2019 (health permitting of course). But something is clearly different this year with Lucas. One of those things is how he’s turned primarily into a fastball/changeup pitcher. When the White Sox acquired Giolito, he was billed as a power righty with a hammer curveball. But he has quietly developed a GREAT change that consistently keeps hitters off balance.
That’s what he’s done his last 2 starts. Between his Mother’s Day gem today and his dominance of Cleveland last week, his line is pretty spectacular: 14.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 16 K’s, 4 BB. After today, his season ERA sits at 3.55.
His shortened arm action has paid immediate dividends in allowing much fewer walks, and his 10.89 K/9 is no. 1 among pitchers 24 years old or younger.
It may have taken a little longer than some may have liked, but Giolito is must-see T.V. for Sox fans right now. The scary thing is that although he’s our unquestioned ace for 2019, he’ll probably be the no. 3 next year. That’s not a knock on him at all, but more so a nod to how good Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech can (should) be.
The starting pitching is overall terrible this year, but if Giolito and Lopez continue to grow throughout the year, it could easily be a strength in 2019.