Jul 7, 2021 6 min read

Can Lucas Giolito take it to his old level in the second half?

Can Lucas Giolito take it to his old level in the second half?

Will the real Lucas Giolito please stand up?

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Good morning, frents!

LLLLLLLLLLL.

No, you didn't have a bad dream. That is indeed 11 Ls in a row. Absolutely breathtaking. It's like the keyboard of the baseball gods got stuck and they've yet to notice.

Tuesday's results
Phillies 15, Cubs 10
Sox 4, Twins 1

Today's schedule
Sox at Twins (12:10, NBCSCH)
Phillies at Cubs (7:05, Marquee)
Orlando at Fire (7, Twitter)

Will Lucas Giolito just stay average in 2021?


I touched on this in Tuesday's newsletter, but the Sox are getting the benefit of the doubt these days. Everyone is hurt, the toothless AL Central won't require much to win and the Cubs freefall is sucking up most of the attention in town at the moment.

It's a nice comfort zone. In fact, a team with World Series aspirations couldn't ask for much more space than they're being given right now.

And yet it comes with the reality that some of the causes for concern won't be as easily brushed away in the coming weeks and months.

Enter the first half of Lucas Giolito's 2021 season.

Giolito was the undisputed ace entering the year and one of the Cy Young favorites in the American League. We don't need to go back over his entire rebirth story here, but you know the broad outline: Worst pitcher in baseball in 2018, career turnaround in 2019 and 2020 after developing a high change that was baseball's best changeup last season.

But Giolito and his change have just been average in 2021. He's scheduled to get one more start in the first half on Saturday in Baltimore and will carry a 6-6 record with a 4.20 ERA into the game. His current ERA+ — a normalized metric in which a league-average pitcher measures 100 — is 102.

Giolito's middling performance has been masked somewhat by Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon turning in performances that have earned them All-Star spots.

But it hasn't stayed all the way hidden, least of all from the righthander himself. Giolito called Sunday's loss to the Tigers "terrible" after giving up six earned runs over five innings and 102 pitches.

“The last couple of years, I was able to get by throwing a lot of fastballs down the middle, throwing a lot of changeups down the middle," Giolito told reporters. "Obviously that's changed; that's not working. So I needed to be better [at] commanding my pitches. My slider has improved, my changeup and fastball are all the same, I'm just not throwing it where it needs to be thrown.”

If you look at Giolito's counting stats, the number of home runs is concerning. He's already served up 18 in just under 100 for a HR/9 rate (1.6) that's higher than his awful 2018 (1.4).

Just about everything else, though, is in line with his last two seasons. His walk rate is down, his K/9 rate is still over 10 (though not as high as before) and his BABIP is .277. Nothing much to see there, he just needs to start putting batters away and keeping them on the right side of the fence.

Will he?

Giolito went 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA in the eight starts before Sunday's start the Tigers. A promising sign, even though he still wasn't in Lynn or Rodon territory.

But Giolito's spin rates have also dropped sharply since MLB started policing foreign substances, data that gives credence to Josh Donaldson's taunting last week and makes you wonder if Giolito can get back to being a dominating pitcher.

Whatever ends up happening, the story of Giolito's 2021 will have a different beginning than we expected. This was supposed to be the year he led one of the best rotations in baseball after reuniting with Ethan Katz and set himself up for a big-money contract extension. (He's set to become a free agent in 2024.)

Giolito has instead transformed from an answer back into a question and it'll be interesting to see if he can reverse that balance once again in the second half.

The Sox sure could use it.

Trivia

Tuesday was the 38th anniversary of Fred Lynn's grand slam at the 1983 All-Star Game at old Comiskey Park. Who was on base?

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News and results

Sox 4, Twins 1: Billy Hamilton, you are ridiculous

The day started with the Sox announcing that Yasmani Grandal will miss 4-6 weeks and posting a lineup with Brian Goodwin hitting cleanup.

It ended with Billy Hamilton making an all-time catch on the warning track in the rain and Rodon posting his ninth straight start of eight or more strikeouts. The Sox have reached the 50-win mark.

Next: It's Lance Lynn Day (8-3, 2.02) for the series finale. Michael Pineda (3-4, 3.70) is scheduled to start for Minnesota.

Phillies 15, Cubs 10: 11 straight losses

Jake Arrieta only needed 10 pitches to load the bases and serve up a grand slam to Andrew McCutchen in the top of the first inning on Tuesday night. He left the game with two outs in the second and on the wrong end of a 7-0 score.

  • Is that it for Arrieta in the rotation? David Ross wouldn't say. Here's what he told reporters: “I’ve got to look at that. We've got a lot going on; 11 losses in a row. I think there’s a lot to look at. I’ll wrap my brain around this one tonight and try to attack the problems in the morning.”
  • Arrieta is 0-5 with a 9.67 ERA over his last eight starts.
  • The lone good news: Eric Sogard didn't make a relief appearance. He was placed on the IL with a bruised rigiht thumb earlier in the day.

Next: Alec Mills (3-2, 4.85) can try and stop this skid, but he'll have to do it against Zach Wheeler (6-4, 2.05).

Kofi Cockburn withdraws name from NBA draft

The Illinois big man wasn't happy with the feedback he was getting from draft scouts and wants to make a quick decision on where he'll play next year. Cockburn is currently in the transfer portal and while he says he could return to Champaign, he also acknowledges that Kentucky is a. "serious option."

  1. Buster Olney says Craig Kimbrel will be the most coveted player on the trade market. And why not? His arm is pretty darn fresh right now. Twitter
  2. Julianna Zobrist spoke publicly about the "ugly accusations". made toward her and her pastor. NBC 5
  3. Local doctors explain Jonathan Toews' illness. Tribune
  4. James Fox with a MLB first-round mock draft. The actual event goes down this Sunday. Future Sox
  5. Congratulations to our good friend Mitch for getting hitched. Page Six

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Trivia answer: Manny Trillo, Rod Carew and Robin Yount

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