White Sox

FanDuel Friday: Will it be a 'Sonny' night for owners?

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FanDuel Friday: Will it be a 'Sonny' night for owners?

The one bright spot for the White Sox in 2015, Chris Sale, will take the mound tonight against the Rangers in what should be another good opportunity for the left-hander to state his case for starting the MLB All-Star Game for the American League.

But is he worth the $11,100 price tag tonight?

It seems like a question we deal with every Friday over the best pitchers available and usually it will come down to who the cheaper options are. This week there are certainly a few enticing hurlers in some good matchups that are worth consideration.

Here are our picks for this Friday's slate of actions and, as always, good luck tonight:

John "The Professor" Paschall

He may look like he's still in high school in his FanDuel photo, but Gray has been bringing big boy stuff to the mound. He leads the majors in ERA and is taking on an Angels team he already dominated in his last start (7.2 IP, 0 ER, 11 K). He's my guy tonight and saves me $1,000 on my cap compared to Chris Sale.

I'm going with a lot of hot bats tonight against some favorable matchups. Colabello might be one of the best hidden gems in all of baseball as he continues to just find ways to get hits. Since returning from his frightening injury, Betts has had nine hits over his past four games, including a RBI in all but one of them. Burns has a nine-game hitting streak going and is always a threat to swipe a bag on the base paths. 

Holt, who is also smoking the ball at the plate and Bogaerts are facing Yohan Pino, who is making his first career start. It's a risky move but those two Red Sox infielders have been the only offense the team has gotten lately. My pick to homer tonight is Abreu, who continues to smash right-handers (watch out, Colby Lewis). 

Wieters has been hitting well since returning from Tommy John surgery and was given a day off yesterday, so hopefully he comes back refreshed against a struggling Marco Estrada. 

Scott Krinch

Chris Sale is on a remarkable run so there's no way I was going to make a lineup without him in it.

Yes, he comes with an $11,000 price tag, but if he keeps notching double-digit strikeout totals with a low WHIP he is well worth the hefty fee.

The last time Sale toed the rubber against the Rangers he allowed just three hits and no runs with 13 punchouts. I'm hoping for a little déjà vu on Friday night.

My two main offensive pieces tonight come from the AL East. Manny Machado is looking like an All-Star once again and I'm banking on a Chris Davis dinger or two north of the border off right-hander Marco Estrada.

The rest of my lineup is sprinkled with players that can fill up the box score in Kolten Wong, Marcus Semien, Gregory Polanco and Justin Upton.

My wildcard is Avisail Garcia. After a much-needed off night, I'm predicting Garcia to break out of his slump in a big way against burly Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: