No products in the cart.
When you’re struggling for three solid months like Lucas Giolito is, it’s hard to present the same impressions in a different way.
The Astros roughed up Giolito for a tab of seven runs over three-plus innings, which only accounted for one-third of the runs Houston scored on the day. Giolito’s ERA rose to 5.34. He’s underwater in bWAR (-0.4), which captures the satisfaction level of his performances better than fWAR (1.2).
Giolito would probably side with Baseball-Reference, because he had nothing positive to say about his outing.
“Obviously, I didn’t do my job. It was pretty terrible.”
Giolito hasn’t been pleased with most of his outings, so his quotes start running together. For instance, this one-sentence is interchangeable with what he said after the Astros tagged him for eight runs over five innings back in June:
“This is pretty god-awful. That’s pretty much it.”
At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in figuring out the why of Giolito’s struggles, because he’s been more bad than good since returning from his bout with COVID-19 back on May 18.
The reference to COVID isn’t to say that he’s still suffering specific effects, because the other variables — the weather, and the way the dead ball failed to launch especially in those conditions — make those first five games a unique sample even if Giolito dodged the virus. There are no noticeable drops in velocity or spin rate from April to the rest of the season, and he opened the season with worse numbers in both compared to 2021, even accounting for the sticky-stuff crackdown. It’s quite possible that April Giolito and August Giolito are the same guy at their cores, but the conditions mean that the latter is the one paying for it.
The illness remains relevant just because it’s the only event specific to Giolito’s season that could make one sample different from another. Alas, it was so long ago …
— HOW LONG AGO WAS IT? —
… it was so long ago that we had doubts about what kind of impact Johnny Cueto would make on the 2022 White Sox. What Giolito’s been is the form we should assume Giolito should continue to take until the next event. The end of the season would qualify as one.
Speaking of things that might not matter, the Astros’ 14-for-19 performance with runners in scoring position drew special attention to another characteristic of Giolito’s recent starts: the marathon inning.
Every one of his outings, serviceable or otherwise, has featured one:
- July 22: A 29-pitch second
- July 27: A 32-pitch first
- Aug. 2: A 41-pitch third
- Aug. 7: A 36-pitch third
- Aug. 18: A 36-pitch third
The exception was his previous start against Detroit, which still featured a three-run third. The Tigers having the poor man’s version of the White Sox meant that Detroit scored those three runs over the course of 22 pitches to seven batters.
This trend made me wonder whether this current form of Giolito has distinct issues from the stretch. The answer is “yes, but…”:
|Split||First 5 GS||Last 17 GS|
Obviously his numbers with men on base are awful, and there’s a little bit more horizontal spray in his release points than before he missed time if you want to try sussing out a chief culprit. But the numbers with the bases empty are a liability as well, so his problems are range wider than one particular split. And with a month and a half of season left, it’s hard to think he’ll discover the One Simple Trick to get back on track.
The hope is that Michael Kopech maintains his second wind, and Lance Lynn’s form from his last five starts is the norm going forward (although he’s faced Cleveland, Oakland, KC, KC and Detroit in those five starts). That relegates Giolito to a No. 5 starter, and as No. 5 starters go, he’s better than most. Like a car that can’t get out of second gear, he should look fine when gravity’s on his side, but he’ll be exposed when trying to conquer a hill.
That’s not good that we’re talking about him like that, especially since the Drastically Eroded Standards Train is already at capacity. If there’s any silver lining for the White Sox, he’s the one player aboard whose current performance has some impact on his next salary.
As tough as Giolito is to watch right now, the open-endedness of his future makes him more interesting to talk about, as opposed to somebody like Moncada, whose $47.6 million means you’re either crossing your fingers or simply waiting it out. Can an offseason of rest, recovery and work help him regain previous levels of power and spin, or is his unusual arsenal unusually fragile, and susceptible to collapse at the first sign of diminishing physical abilities? This conversation assumes that Giolito won’t be able to answer that question in a more positive before before the end of the year, but for everybody’s well being, it seems like we’re safer doing so.