CHICAGO -- Lucas Giolito’s 2022 season on an individual level has traveled somewhere along the same rough path as that of the White Sox's results as a team.
Giolito arguably was one of the top starting pitchers in the American League over the past three seasons and came into this year hoping for an equally strong body of work, if not another notch above. Instead, his ERA sits at 5.05 following a 5-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the one-time American League Central-favorite White Sox dropped to 76-75.
Their division elimination number dipped to four, while their AL Wild Card elimination number now sits at six. But just as finishing strong over these final 11 games is important for the South Siders, the same holds true for Giolito in his final two starts.
“Yeah, build off of the good adjustment today and try to get a nice little groove going,” Giolito said. “Try to finish strong and have something to be proud of on the back end. Go into the offseason, focus up and really get after it."
After throwing 28 pitches in the first and allowing three runs over the first two innings to Detroit (58-92), Giolito settled in over the next four frames en route to a no-decision. He gave up Miguel Cabrera’s leadoff single in the third before making a mound adjustment that clearly made a difference.
Of his nine strikeouts over six innings and 90 pitches, five came after that change.
“He wanted to go back in the seventh and I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’” said White Sox acting manager Miguel Cairo of Giolito. “He pitched really well and I wanted him to leave with confidence, with something that he pitched really well. And give us a chance to be in the game and it was excellent.”
“Obviously, the stuff and velocity is down, but I was able to throw my changeup consistently and get good movement on it,” Giolito said. “So I was missing more bats and it was a much better outing after the first two innings.”
Andrew Vaughn helped Giolito by taking away a two-run home run from Javier Báez with a leaping catch in the fifth after Giolito hit Riley Greene to lead off the inning. Giolito also tried to explain the in-game switch he made.
“Kind of hard to explain. It was almost like really committing to staying on my backside,” Giolito said. “Almost like leaning back, but it's not what I'm actually doing, more of a feeling. And I felt much more consistent after that.
“It’s one of those things where like you’re exaggerating it and it’s not actually that like exaggerated, but it feels like it. And I felt like it got me into a good spot.”
As for the White Sox, the week shaping up as a last-ditch effort to salvage a rough season now has turned into four straight home losses. Friday’s setback dropped the White Sox to 35-41 at home, which means a team with a combined 71-40 record at the Rate over the previous two seasons will finish under .500 there in ‘22.
This finish is disappointing, but it’s shouldn't come as a surprise.
“I wouldn't say it's surprising or shocking. We've had a whole season of not putting things together,” Giolito said. “Tonight, another tough loss late.
“We've got a lot of motivation, at least for myself. I'll speak for myself. A lot of motivation for these last two starts and then an important offseason before next season."
There’s enough talent on this roster where wholesale offseason changes won’t be needed to make them a contender again in ‘23. The same can be said for Giolito, who could quickly return to the form where he put together a 3.47 ERA and a 129 ERA+ with 526 strikeouts over 427 2/3 innings covering the previous three seasons.
“When he makes his pitches, they are not going to hit them,” Cairo said. “You saw after the first inning he started making his pitches, he was commanding the fastball, the slider, the changeup, and he did an excellent job. He’s going to be fine.”
“At this point we just go out and play hard and give it our all until the end,” Giolito said. “That's really it."