White Sox

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

White Sox vs. Red Sox simulation on MLB The Show 20 (Game 9)

White Sox vs. Red Sox simulation on MLB The Show 20 (Game 9)

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

After two straight games of baseball bashing, it seemed like White Sox bats were finally going to have a quiet day in the final matchup of a three-game set vs. the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The South Siders managed only one run through the first seven innings of play, an RBI single by Jose Abreu in the third.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo Lopez, looking to build off his five innings of one-run ball last time out, ran into trouble in the fifth. The Dominican hurler gave up a three-run homer to Christian Vazquez, who already has 12 RBI (T-2nd in the AL) on the young season.

With the White Sox trailing 4-1 in the eighth, it looked like the brooms would have to be kept in the closet for another day. That all changed with two swings of the bat. First, Eloy Jimenez hit a three-run blast that hugged the left field line and just cleared the Green Monster to tie the game 4-4.

Then, Nomar Mazara hit a game-winning no-doubter 447 feet to right field, his first home run of 2020. Aaron Bummer shut the door, just like the first two games of the series and the White Sox completed the sweep of the Red Sox, 5-4.

Result: White Sox def. Red Sox 5-4

Record: 6-3, first in AL Central

W: Jimmy Cordero (1-0)

L: Ryan Brasier (1-2)

SV: Aaron Bummer (5)

White Sox lineup

Tim Anderson: 2-5, 2B (.359 BA)

Yoan Moncada: 1-4, 2B (.359 BA)

Jose Abreu: 1-5, RBI (.268 BA)

Edwin Encarnacion: 1-3, 2 BB (.226 BA)

Yasmani Grandal: 1-3, 2 BB (.343 BA)

Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI (.273 BA)

Luis Robert: 0-5 (.211 BA)

Nomar Mazara: 1-4, HR, RBI (.212 BA)

Leury Garcia: 0-3, BB (.231 BA)

Scoring summary

Top 3rd:

Jose Abreu singled to left field. Tim Anderson scored. 1-0 CHW.

Bottom 5th:

Christian Vazquez homered to left field. Mitch Moreland scored. Alex Verdugo scored. 3-1 BOS

Bottom 7th:

Jackie Bradley Jr. walked. Rafael Devers scored. 4-1 BOS

Top 8th:

Eloy Jimenez homered to left field. Edwin Encarnacion scored. Yasmani Grandal scored. 4-4
Nomar Mazara homered to right field. 5-4 CHW

Notable performance: Though he may sit just outside of the heart of the White Sox order, Eloy Jimenez has been the team’s top run producer this year. With his three-run homer in the eighth, the young slugger already has 11 RBIs in nine games. That’s the most on the White Sox and tied for ninth in the AL.

Next game: Monday, April 6 - Game 10: Mariners vs. White Sox (Dylan Cease vs. Marco Gonzales)

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Taking ‘finding new ways to win’ to the extreme

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Taking ‘finding new ways to win’ to the extreme

Baseball’s history is long, so what happened in the bottom of the eighth on May 5, 2005, probably happened before.

But it couldn’t have happened many times.

When you shotgun a season of winning baseball in quick succession, like we’re doing while watching #SoxRewind, it’s easy to notice how good teams are capable of finding so many different ways to win. The White Sox 21st win of the 2005 season, though, took that concept to the extreme.

Zack Greinke dominated the South Side offense through seven innings, allowing just two hits and no runs. Jose Contreras stifled the Royals almost as well, but a home run off the bat of Tony Graffanino in the seventh gave the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The White Sox didn’t get another hit, but they capitalized on some dreadful Royals pitching to grab what had to be one of their more improbable victories in a 99-win season.

Greinke walked Paul Konerko to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and after a sacrifice bunt, Jermaine Dye was hit by a pitch to put the go-ahead run on base. Andy Sisco came in and got Jamie Burke to ground out — he swung at the first pitch — but the wheels quickly fell off. Sisco walked Joe Crede on five pitches to load the bases, and then he walked Juan Uribe on four pitches to force in the tying run.

Uribe didn’t seem to have any intention of swinging, making the plate appearance seem like it would have had the same result had he left his bat in the dugout.

After Sisco got the hook, Ambiorix Burgos entered and promptly walked Scott Podsednik to put the White Sox in front.


Against three straight batters with two runners in scoring position and two outs, including back-to-back with the bases loaded, Royals relievers threw 13 pitches, just one of which was a strike.

Though Tadahito Iguchi struck out to end the inning, the bottom of the eighth went thusly for the White Sox: They scored two runs, flipped a deficit to a lead, sent eight men to the plate, saw five men reach base and got exactly zero hits.

Incredible.

Winning 99 regular-season games and winning a championship takes an awful lot of talent and overmatching of opponents. But it also takes a good amount of good fortune, and this day, the White Sox took advantage of the mistakes of a Royals team that ended up with 106 losses.

And it happened in a way you’ll be hard pressed to witness again.

What else?

— The conditions were right for the White Sox to pull out a win after Contreras dazzled through eight one-run innings. It was his first win of the season and one of his finest performances of 2005. Prior to giving up the seventh-inning home run to Graffanino, he retired 17 of the first 19 batters he faced. Then after giving up the homer and allowing two more base runners in the seventh, he went 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth on just seven pitches. This was one of five regular-season outings in 2005 in which Contreras went at least eight innings. The other four came in his final eight starts of the year, including in each of his final three.

— Shingo time finally ran out. After the White Sox took the lead in that wacky eighth, the closer didn’t make for an easy save in the ninth. Aaron Rowand made a diving play to get the first out of the inning, but Takatsu followed with back-to-back walks, putting the go-ahead run on base. He got a strikeout of Ken Harvey for Out No. 2, but both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch during the next at-bat. Takatsu got Terrence Long to fly out to end the game, but that was far too much of a nail-biter. Takatsu’s tenure as White Sox closer was over after this game, his final appearance in a save situation as a South Sider.

— That Rowand catch for the first out in the ninth inning? It was fantastic, by the way.


— Goodness, Greinke was good. As discussed the last time we saw the 21-year-old Greinke on #SoxRewind, this was not one of his better seasons. But he looked like the elite pitcher he has since become in this one, all but completely shutting down the White Sox offense. Before starting that ludicrous eighth inning, he had tossed seven shutout innings with just two singles allowed. Greinke, though, was seeing this same situation play out over and over again to begin his 2005 season. He was getting no run support, like worse than Jose Quintana levels of run support. The Royals scored a grand total of seven runs in his first five starts coming into this game, then scored one in this game and one in the next, giving Greinke an average of just 1.29 runs per game over his first seven starts of the season.

— Darrin Jackson: “It’s not something you’re going to see very often, Scott Podsednik caught stealing.” Coming into this game, that was certainly the case. The White Sox leadoff hitter, coming off 70 stolen bases with the Brewers in 2004, had 11 swiped bags and had been caught stealing just once in his first 21 contests as a South Sider. But Podsednik actually ended up the major league leader in that category, caught 23 times by the time the regular season wrapped up. Of course, he also stole 59 bases, a total that ranked third in baseball behind Chone Figgins (62) and Jose Reyes (60). He was caught stealing for the second time in the fourth inning of this game.

— As mentioned, Graffanino’s home run accounted for the only Royals run. Graffanino spent four seasons with the White Sox, batting .271 with a .344 on-base percentage. This was one of four home runs he hit against the South Siders in his 13-year major league career.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Sunday, when you can catch the May 8, 2005, game against the Blue Jays, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. The White Sox bats jumped all over Gustavo Chacin, and Mark Buehrle had just one bumpy inning en route to his fifth win.

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