White Sox

Why White Sox decided now is right time to shut down Lucas Giolito's season

Why White Sox decided now is right time to shut down Lucas Giolito's season

Lucas Giolito’s next start won’t occur until spring training 2018.

The White Sox announced Tuesday plans to shut down their rookie pitcher for the season after he reached an unofficial inning limit. Promoted to the majors last month, Giolito combined to pitch 174 innings between the White Sox and Triple-A Charlotte. Along with an increased output from 136 2/3 innings last season, Giolito has pitched so well the White Sox see no reason to have him make another start. 

“There’s nothing left to prove this year,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “There’s nothing really to gain. It couldn’t have gone better. I don’t think his first trip to the big leagues with us could have went any better. He’s got his blueprint. You look at all of the games, just about every one of them have been really good.”

The club also announced that James Shields has made his last start of 2017. Shields is set to have PRP shots to combat tendonitis in both knees.

Giolito hoped to face the Cleveland Indians on Friday night. He looked forward to the challenge of facing the winningest American League team and said the news is a little bittersweet, though he totally understands why.

But he’s also very pleased with a season in which he’s experienced it all. Giolito struggled at the outset and lost his lofty status as the top pitching prospect in baseball. Somewhere along the way, however, Giolito rediscovered his confidence and soared. He went 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts with the White Sox and finished the season with a combined 168 strikeouts. Giolito also recorded a seven-inning no-hitter at Triple-A Charlotte.

“This was such a crazy year,” Giolito said. “I started not the way I wanted to. I had to kind of get over some trials and tribulations down in the minor leagues trying to fix some things, trying to find myself and see who I was as a pitcher. To get the opportunity up here in late August, I knew that it’s a special opportunity so I wanted to take it and run with it and I’m glad I was able to put together some good starts for the club.

“It’s understandable that 175 they wanted to cap me off. When they first told me, it was kind of like bittersweet. I wanted to take the ball against the Indians. I want to pitch against the best.

“But at the same time, I completely understand the process of everything. I’m pleased with where I’m at.”

The White Sox are very satisfied to see how Giolito has developed in his first season after coming over from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal. They see the confidence he’s gained and Cooper is pleased to see Giolito taking advantage of his 6-foot-6 frame and confusing hitters by throwing from a higher angle. Manager Rick Renteria thinks Giolito took some critical steps in 2017 and has set himself up well to have success next season.

“He’s done a fantastic job,” Renteria said. “There’s no reason for us to continue to push him beyond where he’s at. He’s on pace hopefully for us to maybe reach the 200-inning marker next year.

“Right now, he’s in a good place.”

Shields ended his season in the most consistent place he’s been in with the White Sox in some time. The right-hander adjusted to throwing from a three-quarters angle midway through an Aug. 5 start. In nine turns since, Shields posted a 4.31 ERA and struck out 53 batters in 54 1/3 innings.

The White Sox haven't announced who will start in Giolito's place on Friday. Chris Volstad is expected to go in the season finale on Sunday instead of Shields.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Peter Gammons explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Peter Gammons explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award

On Day 2 of the MLB Winter Meetings, Chuck Garfien speaks with legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons, who shares his knowledge about the key figures in the White Sox rebuild.

He explains why Michael Kopech will win a Cy Young Award one day, and he raves about Carson Fulmer as well as the returns the White Sox got last year at the Winter Meetings in the Sale and Eaton trades.

Then Garfien is joined by White Sox manager Rick Renteria who talks about Jose Abreu’s leadership, if he sees the White Sox trading Abreu, what he’s seen from Luis Robert and more.

We wrap up the podcast with NBC Sports Chicago’s Vinnie Duber, who’s covering the White Sox at the Winter Meetings. They discuss whether the White Sox would trade for Manny Machado or Christian Yelich and give a list of free-agent pitchers the White Sox should sign.  

Carson Fulmer expected to be part of White Sox rotation, but is he a part of the rebuild's future?

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USA TODAY

Carson Fulmer expected to be part of White Sox rotation, but is he a part of the rebuild's future?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The White Sox starting rotation is coming into focus.

With James Shields, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez locked into the top three slots, one of the items on the team’s offseason to-do list was to figure out who the final two spots would go to.

Obviously, Carlos Rodon has a spot when he’s healthy. But after having surgery at the end of last season, there’s no telling when he’ll be back. General manager Rick Hahn keeps saying it could be by Opening Day or it could be by June, and there has been no change to that prognosis at the Winter Meetings here at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

One of the two open spots, though, appears set to go to Carson Fulmer, the White Sox first-round draft pick back in 2015. Hahn said if everything remains the same as it is right now, the team expects Fulmer to be one of its five starting pitchers in 2018.

“We certainly have the expectation that he’ll be part of the rotation come the end of spring training,” Hahn said during his daily briefing Tuesday. “Let’s see how everybody shows up, health wise, any other potential transactions between now and then, and what the ultimate fit is and what’s best for his long-term development. But as we sit here today, I think you could look at him as one of our five.”

While Fulmer was drafted out of Vanderbilt to be a starting pitcher of the future, he’s made just five big league starts in his mere 15 appearances in the majors. As a reliever in 2016, things went poorly, as he allowed 11 runs in just 11.2 innings. Last season was better, at least after his first appearance of the season, in which he gave up six runs in 1.1 innings in a start on Aug. 21. He came back in September and posted a 1.64 ERA in six appearances, which included four starts.

Hahn admitted Tuesday that Fulmer might have been rushed to the big leagues after being selected with the No. 8 pick in 2015. But if Fulmer can replicate what happened in September, maybe there’s another future piece people should be talking about.

“He’s had some hardships thrown his way, both with getting accelerated a little too quickly to get the big leagues initially given where we were as a club at the time to some off-the-field stuff. But he’s bounced back from all of it, he hasn’t hung his head at all, and I think in September we saw him hit his stride a little bit and show some of the flashes of what he’s capable of doing,” Hahn said. “We certainly view him as a guy who has the ability to contribute both in the rotation or in the ‘pen depending on where the need is.”

Considering Fulmer was drafted and even made his major league debut before the much-heralded rebuild officially began, it’s easy to let him slip through the cracks when mentioning highly rated prospects like Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez and even fellow pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. But Hahn said he thinks Fulmer should be included in that group of names, too.

“I think so,” Hahn said. “From a fit standpoint, from a clubhouse standpoint, it’s tough to beat him. From success in big games, we saw that going back to Vanderbilt. So he’s been tested under the brightest lights at each stage and succeeded. Now it’s a matter of him, as we saw to an extent in September, seizing the opportunity that’s in front of him and making the most of it.”

It sure looks like Fulmer will get that opportunity — even if the White Sox add a veteran to help balance out a young rotation. And then he can prove if he is truly a long-term piece of the puzzle on the South Side.