Giolito more focused on pitching than velocity

Hard-throwing righty learning that location means more than pitch speed

March 6th, 2018

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- 's fastball velocity was down and so was his confidence.

He was throwing 92-93 mph last year with Charlotte, the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate. Giolito was a flamethrower in the Washington Nationals' farm system after they drafted him in the first round in 2012. The White Sox acquired him after the 2016 season in the trade, and Giolito's velocity took a dip.

Pitching coach Don Cooper took Giolito aside for a simple message: It's not how hard one throws, but it's about real estate -- location, location, location.

"That's why I like Coop. It's all about honesty and straight-shooting," Giolito said Tuesday. "We had a long talk last Spring Training when I was struggling, just about confidence, where I was at mentally last year as versus now. We talked a lot about confidence and trusting what you have, not trying to find more when there isn't really much there, just letting things happen instead of forcing things. I took that to heart last Spring Training."

It is a message he heard repeatedly from Charlotte pitching coach Steve McCatty.

"Cat just reinforced that every day," Giolito said. "And he just kept banging on my head until it finally got through. And that's why I finally started to have some success at the end of the year, was able to go up to Chicago and do pretty well."

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Giolito went 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of last season with the White Sox. He pitched at least five innings while giving up no more than four hits in four consecutive starts. He held opposing hitters to a .190 batting average.

"Last year was a lot different. I was kind of worried about how hard I was throwing," Giolito said. "I wasn't feeling confident. It was like, 'Why am I not throwing as hard as I used to or I usually do?'

"And then during the course of the season, especially in Triple-A, I just started to worry less and less about what kind of stuff I was bringing and worry more and more about how much I was competing and thinking whatever I have that day or what I have overall, I'm going out there and competing to the best of my ability. And it's basically my best against your best, the guy in the box. Having that kind of mindset works out a lot better."

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He threw three scoreless innings in a Monday 'B' game against the Dodgers. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out three. Radar guns clocked his four-seam fastball up to 95.

"It doesn't mean too much to me right now," Giolito said of velocity. "I feel like the ball is coming out of my hand pretty good. But when it's all said and done, commanding the baseball is a lot more important than how hard you're throwing it.

"Especially for the type of starting pitcher I am. I'm going out there throwing a bunch of different types of pitches, a bunch of different types of sequences. I actually care more about the action of my fastball than the speed of it right now, the way that it kind of carries through the zone. That means changing eye level of fastballs up and down. Velocity kind of takes care of itself."

Giolito said he wants to make sure he repeats his delivery and feels strong on the mound.

"Definitely an evolution," Giolito said. "It's been a pretty crazy, fun road. The past two years in particular, I learned a ton about pitching; I would say as far as confidence and comfort goes on the mound and competitiveness. I feel like I'm competing at a much better level than I used to. Instead of fighting against myself, when I'm out there all I'm trying to do is execute pitches and get guys out."