Lucas Giolito's quest for a bounce-back 2019 season might have hit a bit of a snag.
The tall right-hander departed Wednesday's start against the Kansas City Royals much earlier than hoped, exiting in the top of the third inning with an apparent left leg injury. The White Sox announced it as left hamstring tightness and described him as day-to-day.
Giolito looked mighty distraught as he left the field, heading into the third-base dugout and covering his face with his glove as he made his way toward the clubhouse.
Here's the pitch where Giolito injured himself pic.twitter.com/obHwjontX5— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) April 17, 2019
Giolito was once again squaring off against the team he excelled against during the season's opening weekend, when he pitched what he called his best game in a White Sox uniform, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. He was on his way to what might have been another memorable outing Wednesday, with five strikeouts through the first nine hitters he faced and no hits allowed.
But Giolito did not react favorably to this injury after throwing a few test pitches after suffering the injury on a pitch to Alex Gordon with two outs in the third inning. Upon delivering that pitch, Giolito winced and hobbled on his left leg, the immediate sign that something didn't feel right, sparking Rick Renteria's visit to the mound with the trainer.
Giolito led baseball's qualified pitchers in ERA and WHIP during his first full season in the majors last year, also leading the American League in walks. But he talked happily of the lessons those struggles gave him heading into this season. After that stellar outing against the Royals in Kansas City, he followed it up with five runs in 4.1 innings against the Seattle Mariners and four earned runs in five innings on a rainy night against the New York Yankees. A bounce-back performance Wednesday would have been a good step as he continued his search for consistency. But he wasn't able to finish his outing.
The White Sox will now wait to see if they need a replacement in the starting rotation or not. There's not a ton of depth within the organization, and should Giolito miss any amount of time, the team would most likely turn to Dylan Covey, who made the Opening Day bullpen out of spring training but was dispatched to Triple-A Charlotte to get more work as a starter. The White Sox could also yank long man Manny Banuelos out of the big league bullpen if they wanted to, though that would create a vacancy there.
But the short-term stopgaps in the rotation would be of secondary concern, with the primary focus on what this injury would mean for Giolito's continued development at the major league level. That's all to be determined right now.