By: Mark Lester
Just a few weeks ago, I was talking about how the White Sox five starting pitchers were one of, if not the worst pitching staffs in baseball. For the most part, that still appears to be the case. The starting pitching rotation ranks 29th in ERA, 29th in WHIP, 29th in BB/9, 30th in H/9, and 27th in HR/9. It doesn’t take an expert to look at that and make the assertion that the pitching situation is pretty terrible on the South Side. But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom; in fact, one pitcher on the White Sox is beginning to look really solid, and in the last three games he’s pitched he’s looked like an All-Star. I am, of course, talking about the #2 pitcher in the Sox rotation, Lucas Giolito.
Looking at his 2019 season stats by itself, it’s clear that Giolito is beginning to develop as well as his previous suitors, the Washington Nationals, would have hoped. Once being compared to the late Roy Halladay as an ameteur, Giolito did not live up to that hype from 2016-2018, pitching with an earned-run average (ERA) of 5.21 and -0.3 career wins above replacement (WAR). This year’s a different story. His velocity is better, batters are swinging and missing against him more, and it’s showing: his season ERA is down to 3.55 and he’s already contributed 0.9 WAR to his team. His season stats by themselves don’t tell the whole story though; in his last three outings he’s been absolutely phenomenal.
Since he came back from the IL in early May, his last three starts have been absolutely phenomenal. Against the Red Sox, a team that’s finally past .500, he didn’t do great, allowing three earned runs over 5 innings in a no-decision 6-4 White Sox win. Following that performance, he dominated the Indians in 7⅓ shutout innings, earning his third win of the year and the best game score of his entire career, a 77. He followed that up with a win against the flailing Toronto Blue Jays, allowing just 1 run over 7 innings of work. His total ERA for the the month of May so far is 1.86, making it by far the best month of his young career so far. His next appearance will come once again against the 17-26 Blue Jays as the 20-22 White Sox continue to claw their way to a .500 record. If he does as well as he’s done his last two starts, it would be hard for the White Sox to find a way to lose. And on a team which has one of the most wildly inconsistent pitching staffs in baseball, that’s extremely valuable.
Even though he’s not penciled in as the ace, Lucas Giolito has proven to be the White Sox best asset on the mound, by far. If he continues to perform at the Roy Halladay-esque levels that he’s been at this May, he’ll be one of two things thing July: a trade asset that every playoff contender will be clawing to get at, or a bonafide ace seen as the face of the resurgence of the White Sox after years of poor performance.