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Despite struggles, Giolito in 'much better place'

White Sox starter has 7.01 ERA, 47 walks through 15 starts
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The easiest way for White Sox starter Lucas Giolito to focus on his mechanics is to not focus too obsessively on his mechanics.

"100 percent," said a smiling Giolito prior to Wednesday's game against the Twins. "It's been kind of a long road to figure that out.

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CHICAGO -- The easiest way for White Sox starter Lucas Giolito to focus on his mechanics is to not focus too obsessively on his mechanics.

"100 percent," said a smiling Giolito prior to Wednesday's game against the Twins. "It's been kind of a long road to figure that out.

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"But I'm definitely in a much better place right now with that, just letting it flow. The key words are let it flow. Just go out there and be athletic."

Giolito, who turns 24 on July 14, enters his 16th start of the season Thursday afternoon with 47 walks over 78 1/3 innings, leaving him tied with Minnesota's Lance Lynn for the American League lead. He has a 7.01 ERA, but his issues have been as much about overanalyzing as they have been physical.

It's the same type of problem Giolito faced with Triple-A Charlotte in 2017 before he pushed the worries aside and let his ability take over. Giolito had a 2.38 ERA over seven starts for the White Sox last season.

Video: DET@CWS: Giolito strikes out Martinez swinging

"I was kind of stressing getting traded, and I wanted to make a good impression," Giolito said. "Putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform and succeed. At that time, I was still a prospect so I wanted to live up to that, and I could tell my mechanics weren't right for a long time. I was constantly trying to analyze and tinker and figure out, just thinking too much while throwing the ball.

"'What's my arm doing? What are my hips doing?' It was kind of exhausting, honestly. It would be exhausting at times, like how can I think about six things at once and try to do this athletic motion to throw the baseball?"

After a great Spring Training, Giolito faced those problems again with 21 walks over his first five starts. But he has walked 10 over 23 1/3 innings in June, as he's going with the flow again and being assisted with directed long toss.

"We've kind of tailored the long-toss program where I can focus on keeping my direction, pulling down on the ball properly," Giolito said. "So I'm not thinking about mechanics. I'm thinking more about throwing the ball the way I want to throw it, and being able to pull down and feel the ball come off of my hand how I want it to feel.

"It's like the desire to be as good as I can be to the point where I've overanalyzed things and been like 'What am I doing wrong? What should I fix? What can I fix?' I'm doing that instead of being like, 'Hey, I'm here, I'm going to compete and let it all happen and just be athletic and let what I've been doing for years take over.'"

Video: CLE@CWS: Giolito fans Gomes with a high fastball

Dunning update
Right-hander Dane Dunning was examined Wednesday in Chicago by White Sox team physician Dr. Nik Verma. An MRI revealed that Dunning sustained a moderate right elbow sprain that will not require surgery at the moment.

Dunning, the club's No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, will be placed on the disabled list at Double-A Birmingham and begin a 6-8 week program of rest and rehabilitation. After that period of time, Dunning will begin a throwing program, and a plan for his return to pitching will be implemented. Dunning left Saturday's start with elbow soreness, but it was more of a gradual buildup to soreness and not one sharp pain.

Bullpen could attract interest
In less than one month last season, general manager Rick Hahn traded David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Tyler Clippard, who was acquired from the Yankees via trade, from the bullpen.

Strong candidates such as closer Joakim Soria, left-handers Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago and Xavier Cedeno and a healthy Nate Jones could draw interest from contenders prior to the upcoming July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Soria has been perfect in seven save chances during June.

"We'll deal with that possibility when we cross that bridge," manager Rick Renteria said. "Right now, I don't even want to think about it.

"Right now, I'll take advantage of every opportunity we have to give [Soria] a chance to close games out. My job is to handle everybody I have here in front of me, and he still happens to be one of the guys that's still in front of me, and that's all I'm worried about right now."

Third to first
• Steele Walker, the White Sox second-round pick in the 2018 Draft who is an outfielder from Oklahoma, was on the field pregame Wednesday talking with Hahn. His signing has not been announced as of yet.

• Per MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis, third-round pick Konnor Pilkington will get $650,000 from the White Sox. Pilkington is a left-handed pitcher from Mississippi State.

• Triple-A Charlotte right-handers Donn Roach and Thyago Vieira have been named International League All-Stars.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Lucas Giolito