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Giolito on 'best I’ve ever felt pitching'

Robert joins 30-30 club at Triple-A Charlotte
@scottmerkin
August 25, 2019

CHICAGO -- What a difference one year truly makes where White Sox starter Lucas Giolito is concerned. In 2018, Giolito’s first full year as part of the rotation, he topped the American League in walks and had the worst ERA of any starter who qualified for consideration. In 2019, Giolito

CHICAGO -- What a difference one year truly makes where White Sox starter Lucas Giolito is concerned.

In 2018, Giolito’s first full year as part of the rotation, he topped the American League in walks and had the worst ERA of any starter who qualified for consideration. In 2019, Giolito became a first-time All-Star and now is one of the handful of pitchers in the American League Cy Young Award mix.

Even Texas manager Chris Woodward spoke prior to Sunday afternoon’s 2-0 White Sox victory over the Rangers of being glad his team didn’t have to face Giolito in either series this season.

“It feels pretty cool,” said Giolito, when being apprised of the praise. “Last year, I’m sure 29 of 30 teams would’ve loved to have me for a series.

“It’s cool to see recognition from peers and other managers and things like that when it comes to the personal success I guess I’ve experienced this year. That’s a good feeling.”

Giolito ranks among the AL leaders in complete games (tied for first at 3), opponents’ average (third, .208), wins (tied for fifth, 14), opponents OPS (fourth, .636), SO/9.0 IP (fifth, 11.51), ERA (sixth, 3.20), WHIP (sixth, 1.09) and strikeouts (eighth, 194). Those numbers are difficult for Giolito to avoid with them being plastered across every scoreboard in baseball.

But numbers don’t drive Giolito. Neither do awards or the outside possibility of winning 20 games. Since revamping his approach this past offseason, Giolito has a plan he follows every day, whether it’s after a great start, an average start or the rare bad start.

“My biggest focus was making the changes I needed to make and just being a more consistent pitcher,” Giolito said. “I’m showing I can do that and more. That’s all I concern myself with. I just want to take the ball every five days and win. I know that if I’m doing that, then I’m going to put myself in a good position when it comes to numbers and everything.”

“He is good,” said Woodward of Giolito. “He made some adjustments in his mechanics and is impressive.”

Tuesday will mark Giolito’s second straight start against the Twins. He doesn’t know if there’s an advantage on either side to facing the same team twice in one week, but it will be difficult for Giolito to top his three-hit, 12-strikeout, no-walk shutout thrown last Wednesday at Target Field.

“Best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life,” said Giolito of that start. “In most games, you are going to have periods where maybe you feel a little out of sync. You make the adjustment and get back into it, give up a walk or have a mental lapse. The biggest thing for me going into that game was I wanted to challenge myself and see how much I could focus on each individual pitch.

“If I throw 100 pitches today, I want to be 100 percent focused on 100 out of 100. I ended up throwing 115 and I can say that I was focused on all of them or almost all of them. It was just one of those days where the focus was there, the execution was there. I felt really good.”

Robert with 30-30 talent

Luis Robert, who is the No. 5 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline, became the first White Sox Minor Leaguer since at least 1988 to hit 30 homers and post 30 stolen bases in the same season. Robert, who has 31 doubles, 10 triples, 103 runs scored and 87 RBIs to go with his 36 stolen bases, hit his 30th home run overall Saturday and 14th in 39 games with Triple-A Charlotte.

Joc Pederson was the last Minor Leaguer to go 30-30 in a season with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.

“He's done some really, really impressive things this season,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Robert. “He's taken a hold of, first of all, being able to stay on the field and perform so he can get those at-bats. He hadn't really been on the field before.

“So, it has been really, really important for him to stay out there and get the at-bats and get the experience at the Minor League level, let alone the Major League level. He's scratching the surface.”

They said it

“He's held himself accountable to so many things in terms of trying to stay in shape, working hard to make sure he gets an opportunity to play as much as he possibly can. It's a tribute to him. That's a nice feat.” -- Renteria on Jose Abreu reaching 1,000 career hits.

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