Giolito pitches six scoreless innings in 5-2 win over Indians in second to last start of regular season.
Heading into the final week of the regular season, Lucas Giolito seems like the only sure thing in the White Sox starting rotation right now.
As the Sox wind things down and tune things up for the American League Division Series which begins Oct. 6, four-fifths of their starting rotation have question marks next to their names. Lance Lynn, the presumed Game 1 starter, has been pitching through a sore knee and in his 105-pitch start Saturday, was pitching through a minor back issue.
Carlos Rodon, the other Sox All-Star starting pitcher, is dealing with a sore shoulder. Dylan Cease has a bruised right triceps. And Dallas Keuchel owns a 5.13 ERA.
All seems perfectly well with Giolito, however, after he pitched six scoreless innings in the Sox’ 5-2 victory over the Indians Sunday at Progressive Field. The Sox Opening Day starter, who slipped behind Lynn and Rodon in stature during the first half of the season, struck out six, walked one and allowed five hits and continued to excel down the stretch. While Lynn (10-6, 2.72) owns a 3.82 ERA in the second half, Giolito (11-9, 3.58 ERA) owns a 2.71 mark in the second half with a 2.42 ERA in his last eight starts.
“Just look at composure, repeating the delivery, having all his pitches [fastball, slider, changeup],” manager Tony La Russa said. “It was really hard for them to get on anything because in any count he may have something different. That’s the mark of an outstanding starting pitcher. You can see him one at-bat, and then the next time, he starts you with something different, he finishes with something different.”
Giolito and Lynn will make their last two starts Friday and Saturday against the Tigers, with the order to be determined, presumably in the order they start Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-five ALDS.
“We’re talking about who starts what games,” La Russa said. “The fact is you need to win three games. But it hasn’t been just lately that Lucas has been sharp. He’s been good all year. He should have 14, 15 wins easily.”
Giolito pitched seven innings of two-hit, one run ball with eight strikeouts in the Sox’ 4-1 victory over the Athletics in Game 1 of the Wild Card series last season, and he looks ready for his October encore.
“I’m putting a heavy emphasis on finishing strong and being prepared for the playoffs,” he said.
Yasmani Grandal singled in a run in the first against Triston McKenzie (5-8, 4.81), Eloy Jimenez singled in two in the third and Leury Garcia singled in one in the sixth before Billy Hamilton stole home for the last run in the eighth.
Hamilton beat first baseman Bobby Bradley’s throw home when Tim Anderson stopped short of second base on an attempted stolen base and got into a brief rundown, the Sox’ first steal of home since Gordon Beckham stole home against the Cubs in 2013. La Russa joked the play was drawn up between the speedy Anderson and Hamilton in a parking lot.
It was one indicator the Sox had more spunk after they played flat the night before.
“To come back today and pick things up, everybody was in it, it was good to see,” Giolito said. “Keep those good vibes going through the end of the season.
The AL Central champion Sox (88-68) go back to Detroit for a Monday makeup game, then play their last five games of the regular season at home. They finished 10-9 against the 76-79 second-place Indians.
Giolito said he’s not worried about the rest of the Sox rotation as the postseason draws near.
“I have a ton of confidence,” Giolito said. “I know that Lance is Lance, he’s going to do his thing no matter what. Dylan, it’s just a bruise and he’s coming along fine and Carlos is coming along well, he’s going to be pitching this week. So I’m feeling pretty good about it. And we have Dallas and [Reynaldo Lopez] so I’m liking where our starting pitching is at.”