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Crosstown debate: Wood or Buehrle?

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Crosstown debate: Wood or Buehrle?

By Luke Stuckmeyer
CSNChicago.com

They are two of Chicago's most popular pitchers over the last 20 years. Cubs fans love Kerry Wood. White Sox fans embrace Mark Buehrle. A flame-throwing righty and a crafty lefty. The comparison is an interesting one.

Buehrle's case is simple: One World Series ring, a perfect game and a no-hitter. He's been dependable and consistent while mastering the art of pitching. He won't leave you in awe, but he will leave you scratching your head.

Wood's case is more complicated: He has one of the single-greatest pitching performances in baseball history (20 strikeouts on May 6, 1998 vs. Houston), but no World Series ring. A starter and reliever with plenty of injuries and even more unfulfilled dreams.

Let's start by throwing out wins and losses. It doesn't work here and it's not the best way to determine a quality pitcher. Buehrle has more career wins (164 and counting to Wood's 86), but he's never been a reliever. Besides, both have a winning percentage hovering around the .500 mark (.534 Wood to .571 Buehrle).

So, ERA would be the next logical step, and once again it's extremely close: 3.67 in 1,380 innings for Wood to 3.81 in 2,530 23 for Buehrle. Wood has more strikeouts (1,582-1,425), while Buehrle has more All-Star games (4-2).

Winning is the ultimate goal, but you don't win a World Series by yourself. Wood had a chance to get his team there, but couldn't close the door in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS against the Florida Marlins. Yes, I'm doing more flipping and flopping that a smallmouth bass on a pier.

Here's another question to ponder: would you take the 20-K game or Buehrle's no-hitter and perfect game? There have been 274 other no-hitters in baseball history and 20 other perfect games. Perfect, yes, but 20 others. Wood's one-hitter came in his fifth major-league start and 20 strikeouts in a game has only been done one other time. Ever. Oh, and he was 20-years-old.

One performance is perfect. The other one is dominant.

I give up.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

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

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.