Spare Parts: Lucas Giolito has figured something else out

Plus: The Braves lock up Tyler Flowers, Yoan Moncada is slowly improving as a righty, and the Padres ignore service time concerns

It’s easier to talk about Lucas Giolito than it is to write about Lucas Giolito. A recurring theme on the podcast is that he doesn’t succeed the same way twice. Sometimes he gets by with enough of a fastball, other times his slider is the pitch, and more recently the curve and changeup have stepped up, the latter playing up well off an increase in velocity.

And, at least before August, sometimes he didn’t succeed at all. It leaves him an easy subject for spitballing, but he ran the risk of making typed words more disposable than usual.

At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan ran into the same problem. In the spring, he wrote about Giolito rediscovering his stuff, finding a lower arm slot that allowed him to command his curveball while getting run on a firmer fastball and fade on his changeup.

Then the regular season season rolled around, and was just about the worst pitcher in the majors, at least one allowed to hold a job.

Well, Sullivan is taking another run at him as Giolito wraps up what’s been an encouraging August. True to Giolito’s form, the lower arm slot is no longer a thing, perhaps because it resulted in too much cross-body force that carried him well off to the side of the mound after his release.

Instead, he’s getting more power on his two-seamer with this new/old release point, and it runs on the same track as his changeup, which is no longer flying away from him as he flies off the mound. Regardless of the arsenal or arm slot, it seems like balance is going to be what defines him, which makes sense for a huge pitcher.

Spare Parts

One note for your offseason plans: Tyler Flowers is staying with hometown team, signing a $4 million extension with the Atlanta Braves for 2019, with a $6 million option for 2020. Let the Braves’ GM rub it in:

“We really value the framing, and Flowers is as good as it gets,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “He’s been a big part of our success on the mound.”

Omar Narvaez’s development as a hitter is a cool story for a minor-league Rule 5 pick, but the Sox’ receiving still remains an open sore that drags pitchers into dark areas, and even their spouses. It’s kinda funny when Ashley Rodon gripes about the strike zone during Carlos Rodon’s starts, at least until you take it one step further and realize his teammate is the bigger reason he’s not getting those calls. Anyway.

This is an update for a popular question without such a simple answer.

Staying inside is the crux of the matter, as extending his arms, casting his barrel out too wide and rolling over pitches is the driving factor in his ground ball rate being 19 percentage points higher as righty (50.7 percent) than as a lefty (31.5 percent). That he’s struggling on sliders in the zone is one thing, but at least that is more challenging for pitchers to locate. Barreling fastballs has been his strength as a left-hander and he can’t afford to struggle with it as a righty.

The Padres (51-83) are one of the teams the White Sox (52-80) have climbed over with their strong April, but that didn’t stop them from calling up their top infield prospect Luis Urias, who was hitting .296/.398/.447 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A El Paso.

Urias is more likely to be a well-rounded middle infielder than an offensive monster like Eloy Jimenez, so perhaps the service-time concerns aren’t as great for a guy who doesn’t project to be a lineup centerpiece.

The bigger concern with Jimenez is that he’s hitting so well — and nobody else at Charlotte is — that it’s hard to promote anybody else without making it look like it’s all about gaming the system. Michael Kopech forced the same issue, as attempting to call up somebody else to give the rotation and bullpen length while keeping Kopech down would’ve resulted in howls of derision.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Josh Nelson

How did you know I was planning on signing Tyler Flowers in my off-season plan?


Because you know that the “Great Avisail Garcia Non-Tender Debate” isn’t enough to sustain us through the whole offseason.

Patrick Nolan

Tyler Flowers, 6.6 WARP catcher last season, 2.7 WARP catcher this season so far.

$4 million next year, $6 million CLUB OPTION for 2020???

Tyler, fire your agent into the sun.


Pretty incredible that he gets less potential money than Castillo got in guaranteed money despite Flowers being a better hitter, runner and much better catcher.


Nothing wrong with home team discount especially since the Braves are in the playoff picture for next few years and the player is where he wants to be

Patrick Nolan

A home team discount could still carry an 8-figure salary.


Because I love rehashing this, I still can’t believe we non-tendered a catcher coming off back to back 2.5 WARP seasons with no in-house replacement.

Trooper Galactus

I still can’t believe we non-tendered a catcher so we could sign Dioner Navarro. Holy fucking stupid, Hahn.



Certainly no room in that lineup for Eloy…

Lurker Laura

The horse is dead.


One of my favorite books…

Trooper Galactus

The beatings shall continue until it shows some life.

Brett R. Bobysud

That lineup has maybe 1 guy who projects to be on a contending Sox team in 2020.

Trooper Galactus

At least Engel, Rondon, and LaMarre have kinda played their way into the conversation. I think Nicky’s defense leaves him with no real role, sadly.


Despite his recent hot streak, any lineup that starts with Adam Engel can’t be serious about winning.