White Sox

Breaking down Derek Holland's recent struggles with White Sox

Breaking down Derek Holland's recent struggles with White Sox

DENVER — Derek Holland just can’t seem to get out of his rut.

The White Sox starting pitcher lasted only four innings in Friday night’s series opener at the Colorado Rockies and now has a 10.16 ERA in his last seven starts. The White Sox dropped the contest 12-4 to Colorado.

A free agent after this season, Holland allowed four first-inning runs. He also later yielded a pair of home runs and allowed seven earned runs and eight hits.

Holland — who signed a one-year deal worth $6 million in December — has struggled since the start of June. Over his last seven starts, Holland has allowed 35 runs (all earned) and 50 hits in 31 innings. He has walked 14 batters and struck out 26.

For comparison, Holland allowed only 16 earned runs across 60.2 innings in April and May while striking out 52 batters to 24 walks. 

The left-hander entered Friday with the third-worst ERA among pitchers with at least 25 innings since June 1. Holland had a 9.33 ERA in his previous six starts. Only Baltimore’s Chris Tillman (9.69 ERA) and Toronto’s Marco Estrada (9.46) have higher ERA’s.

“The most frustrating thing is being inconsistent,” Holland said. “You have a good start and then you have two bad ones. Today was flat out embarrassing. I don’t even know where to begin.

“I’m not doing my job. I need to be a lot better than I was this start and last start.

"I’ve just got to watch more video, see what I’m doing. Everything was good — me and Coop were talking about it — in the ‘pen. And then come out and, excuse my language, (crap) the bed. It’s not helping the cause.”

A great escape and a positive 'learning moment' for Lucas Giolito

A great escape and a positive 'learning moment' for Lucas Giolito

So often in this rebuilding season, Rick Renteria has talked of "learning moments," and as is evident from the team's win-loss numbers and many other statistics, those "learning moments" have largely ended in negative results.

It's not to say the lessons haven't been valuable ones, and growing pains now could lead to big-time success down the road, when the White Sox shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

But Tuesday night in Detroit, one young player, a significant piece of the team's long-term plans, succeeded in such a moment. And it looked like a step forward for a guy who's called himself one of the most inconsistent pitchers in baseball this season.

Lucas Giolito looked like he was heading for another disappointing outing early, when he relinquished a three-run lead in the first inning, allowing three runs that grew his first-inning ERA on the season to 8.63. But he settled down nicely from there, allowing just two base runners over the next four innings and allowing the White Sox to jump back ahead, which they did, leading 6-3 by the time Giolito's biggest challenge came around.

The Tigers loaded the bases to start the bottom of the sixth, putting three on with nobody out for Giolito, who has been susceptible to the big inning often this season, including in his previous start, when he gave up six runs in the second inning against the New York Yankees.

Renteria could've pulled the plug there and brought in a fresh reliever to try and limit the damage and keep his team's three-run lead alive. Instead, he allowed Giolito to stay in — another example of certain developmental things being more important than wins and losses this season — and the right-hander rewarded him. Giolito got a shallow flyball, a strikeout and a popup on the infield to end the inning with no runs scoring.

Giolito was obviously happy about that, and cameras showed him sharing a smile with Renteria in the dugout.

The White Sox won the game and now have a 6-2 record in Giolito's last eight starts. They're .500 (12-12) in his 24 starts this season, an interesting note, if not a terribly meaningful one, considering the team's overall record is 33 games below the .500 mark.

These "learning moments" have defined this developmental season on the South Side, and often they've come with the caveat of growing pains and the promise of a better tomorrow, despite a somewhat painful present.

This moment, though, came with a very visible sign of things moving in the right direction for Giolito. It doesn't mean Giolito will take off from here. But it's a good sign and something the White Sox have to be happy about as Giolito continues to develop at the major league level.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?

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AP/USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?

With Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech dominating in Triple-A, we tackle the No. 1 question on the mind of every White Sox fan: Are either or both of the White Sox top prospects going to play in the majors this year?

Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Slavko Bekovic give their takes and predictions. Plus, which other minor leaguers should be called up in September?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: