Blue Jays: Bullpen Takes on Lucas Giolito in Second Game

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 15: Lucas Giolito #27 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning on July 15, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 15: Lucas Giolito #27 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning on July 15, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

On Saturday, July 28, the Blue Jays will complete their second of three games at the Chicago White Sox. The Blue Jays will employ another bullpen day and the Sox will hand the ball to Lucas Giolito.

Lucas Giolito was originally drafted in the first round of the 2012 amateur players draft by the Washington Nationals. For a long time, the right-hander was seen as one of the best prospects in the Washington system—possibly just a few years away from being an impact starter.

However, Mike Rizzo, the general manager of the Washington Nationals, shocked the world by trading Lucas Giolitio, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning to the White Sox for Adam Eaton, a right-fielder. Eaton had been involved in trade rumours for a while, but many accused the Nationals of overpaying for the young outfielder.

The key piece of this trade was Saturday’s starter. However, Reynaldo Lopez, Friday’s starter, is also bearing some fruit for Chicago, as well. Through 20 starts he has a 4.13 ERA and 99 ERA+. To make matters worse for the Nationals, Adam Eaton has played just 23/162 games in 2017 and 43/102 games this year.

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Giolito was excellent in his first season in Chicago. In 2017, the starter managed a 2.38 ERA and 180 ERA+ in seven starts for the White Sox. This season has been a different story, though. Through 20 starts he has posted a 6.02 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 1.509 WHIP, and 67 ERA+.

For a young pitcher, Giolito has a surprisingly deep selection of pitches to offer to opposing batters. This season he has alternated between a four seam fastball, slider, sinker, change-up, and curveball. However, despite offering five different pitches, he uses his four seamer almost half of the time.

The right-handed hurler has fired home four seam fastballs 49.1% of the time this season. The heater is decently quick, averaging a velocity of 92.79 mph. The four seamer has been hit out of the ball park a lot, though, giving up 11 home runs in 20 starts. As well, the pitch has walked 52 batters while punching out just 33.

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The White Sox starter has thrown his slider 16.7% of the time this season. The breaking ball is not that fast, maintaining an average velocity of 83.97 mph, with decent drop. As a result of this good movement, the pitch has produced whiffs at an above average rate of 34.46% of swings. However, somewhat curiously, the slider is still used significantly less with two strikes than the four seam fastball—to right-handed or left-handed hitters.

Giolito has thrown his sinker 12.2% of the time this season. The sinking-fastball is just a little bit slower than the four seamer, clocking in at an average velocity of 92.28 mph. The sinker has done its job well this season, producing ground balls at an insane rate of 62% of balls in play. Many of these grounders have found holes, though, as the pitch has allowed a poor .294 BAA.

The right-hander has thrown his change-up 12.2% of the time this season. The off speed pitch is a decent drop in velocity from the heater, posting an average velocity of 81.78 mph. However, the change has not been that effective, coughing up a .264 BAA.

Finally, the young starter completes his pitch offerings with a curveball—a pitch he uses 9.6% of the time this season. The hook maintains good 12-6 movement from his high, overhand release point. However, the big breaker has not been good this season, giving up a .308 BAA and .500 SLGA.

This has been a difficult season for Giolito. While he was a great strikeout pitcher in the minors, he has lost his overpowering ability this season, it seems. He has struck out batters at a terrible 13.9% clip and 5.60 K/9. Even worse, he has walked batters to the tune of a disastrous 13% BB-rate and 5.27 BB/9.

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The Blue Jays will face back-to-back young starters to open the weekend against the White Sox. Giolito has had his fair share of struggles this season, but he should eventually come around in the years ahead. The Blue Jays will look to work the young righty for some walks and create some more offence than they managed in the Minnesota series.