INDIANAPOLIS — Lucas Giolito trusts that the work he’s putting in will eventually lead to something clicking here at the Triple-A level, and ultimately in the major leagues.
But that hasn’t happened yet, as evidenced by another day where the 22-year-old right-hander didn’t consistently command his fastball. The result was Giolito allowing five runs (four earned) with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings against the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate) on Monday night.
“I definitely am not pitching the way I know I can,” Giolito said. “The ball is not coming out the way I know it can. The process, working hard on it every single day — that's what I'm doing. Hopefully the results will start to show that.”
Charlotte pitching coach Steve McCatty has been working with Giolito on not only repeating his mechanics so he can command his fastball, but also on having a more positive, big-picture view of his development.
While Giolito can focus on his fastball getting him into trouble — as it did in Indianapolis’ four-run fifth inning — McCatty wants him to look at some of the things he’s done well this year, too.
“You're always trying to improve on your weakness and make your strengths better but you just can't go out and say, 'Man I sucked because I didn't get through five innings,’” McCatty said. “He's made progress in a lot of areas. It's a growing thing. And he's got to know what he is first, he's not even close to being a finished product that he's going to be.”
Giolito reached the major leagues last year with the Washington Nationals, starting four games and appearing in two others as both a mid-season and September call-up. But he’s still green — he’s about five years younger than the average Triple-A player — and only has three full years of starting experience in the minor leagues following Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted by the Nationals out of high school in 2012.
“For him, if it took the rest of this year and next year, so what’s he going to be, 24 years old?” McCatty said. “If he goes up to the big leagues and he's throwing pretty good, what's everyone going to say? ‘Well, Lucas is doing what we think he should.’”
That hypothetical situation McCatty presented isn’t a fast track to the White Sox rotation, but more of a slow build to getting Giolito ready to be a mainstay on 35th and Shields. Even if things were to click for Giolito soon, a handful of strong outings may not be enough to prove that he’s ready to stick in the major leagues.
Another thing Giolito mentioned he wants to get better at is in-game adjustments, which could’ve prevented that rough fifth inning on Monday. Being able to identify and correct what’s going wrong after one pitch instead of after the game is something that could help prevent things from spiraling out of control.
The White Sox, though, have long preached patience in developing the hoard of prospects they acquired in December’s Chris Sale and Adam Eaton trades. Even if Giolito had a 1.37 ERA instead of his current 7.31 mark, he might not be in line for a call-up to the major leagues for a little while.
So he has time to work in Charlotte and hope that eventually things will click, and stay that way once he gets back to the major leagues.
“I wasn’t expecting to start the year like this,” Giolito said. “I mean, the numbers are atrocious. It frustrated me, definitely, a lot earlier in the year, like, why aren’t I figuring it out? Now, it’s just, all I can do is trust the work I’m putting in and hopefully put it together soon.”