Giolito is 1st Sox righty to 200 K's since '08

All-Star hurler strikes out 9 in strong start vs. Twins

August 28th, 2019

CHICAGO -- Shutting down a 2019 Twins squad with 255 home runs and an American League Central lead on one occasion is a tough enough challenge. How about achieving that goal three times in four starts, as the White Sox has done this year.

No, Giolito did not get the victory during Minnesota’s 3-1 winning decision Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. Solo home runs from Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop off Giolito in the second provided the margin of victory.

But the right-hander followed up his three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout last Wednesday at Target Field with nine strikeouts over six innings on Tuesday and 18 swinging strikes, per Statcast. With the exception of seven runs allowed against the Twins, courtesy of four home runs over five innings on July 25, and Giolito has been downright dominant against one of baseball’s best.

“That was just one of those days where I was missing spots, my fastball was flat, I wasn't throwing good, quality off-speed pitches. And they took advantage,” said Giolito of his one Minnesota misstep. “They were very aggressive that day.

“The last two, just kind of getting back more to my game, trusting myself, executing more often than not. Last two have been good.”

Those nine strikeouts Tuesday pushed Giolito to 203 strikeouts for the season, making him the first White Sox right-hander to reach 200 since Javier Vazquez did so in 2007-08. He owns an 11.59 strikeouts per nine innings, which rates as the second-highest single-season mark in franchise history behind Chris Sale (11.82 in 2015).

His 203 strikeouts have come against 54 walks over 157 2/3 innings, marking a noticeable decline from his AL leading 90 free passes issued in 2018. But Giolito isn’t satisfied, pointing to the three walks Tuesday driving up his pitch count and preventing him from getting to the seventh.

“Getting the walks down was the No. 1 focus, as far as stats, numbers,” Giolito said. “I feel like I've made a big improvement in that area, but there's still a lot of room to grow there.

“It's pretty cool, knowing the year I had last year and the changes I made,” added Giolito of surpassing 200 strikeouts. “It's a pretty cool accomplishment. I'm happy about that. I knew that I was that type of pitcher, I just had to find it somewhere. And I'm happy that I did.”

Since getting roughed up by the Cubs on July 6 in his last start before pitching in the All-Star Game, Giolito owns a 3.28 ERA with 83 strikeouts against 16 walks over nine starts (57 2/3 innings). Those 83 second-half strikeouts place him just behind Justin Verlander’s 90 for the most in baseball.

Against the Twins in 2019, Giolito has a 3.24 ERA, 32 strikeouts and five walks in four starts. He called his outing last Wednesday in Minneapolis the “best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life.”

Giolito seemed to enjoy Tuesday’s quick turnaround against the same team just as much, adjusting against the adjustments made by this highly potent Twins’ lineup. Seven of his swinging strikes Tuesday came off the fastball. Another four came via the slider, and seven more off the changeup.

“They made some adjustments, for sure, from the last outing. The elevated fastball wasn't working as well today,” Giolito said. “I think that they were cheating to that a little bit. So, kind of went a different route after the second inning, threw away more, tried to mix in some more sliders on the hands of lefties. Ended up working out pretty well but came up just short.”

“He has tremendous stuff, and he executed well,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Probably not as dominant as the last time out but still really good. We were able to jump on the board and put a couple of runs on the board fairly early and had a good first inning to not just let him settle in.”

Tim Anderson’s solo home run against Michael Pineda in the fourth accounted for the White Sox lone run, as the team fell to 5-9 against the Twins. Giolito (14-7) dipped to 2-2 against Minnesota, although his efforts against them are well above breakeven.

“No matter how you want to sum up the season for him to this point, huge, huge turnaround,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We're hoping and expecting that maybe this is the guy that everybody's expecting to be here as he continued to develop and grow. He stays within himself, trusts his stuff, executes and gives himself a chance. He deserves all the credit in the world.”