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Giolito: 'Baseline is there' for future success

@scottmerkin
September 17, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lucas Giolito could be characterized as a true student of baseball, as opposed to your regulation standout pitcher perched at the top of the White Sox rotation and taking the ball every fifth day. So, it only figures that an individual who often discusses matters such as spin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lucas Giolito could be characterized as a true student of baseball, as opposed to your regulation standout pitcher perched at the top of the White Sox rotation and taking the ball every fifth day.

So, it only figures that an individual who often discusses matters such as spin rate and ride would have an opinion on somewhat of a hot-button issue: Does the pitcher’s win actually matter?

“It’s a weird stat,” Giolito said prior to Tuesday’s contest against the Twins at Target Field. “It’s weird because you want them, you want to get as many wins as possible, but a lot of it is out of your hands. At the same time, it’s like a stat that’s hard to look at on paper from an analytical viewpoint.

“If you are looking at baseball with the 'Moneyball' or analytical lens, you are not looking at that. You are looking at FIP and WAR and whatever. But as a pitcher, you want to get wins.”

Giolito’s season came to an unexpected close Monday, when general manager Rick Hahn announced that the right-hander had been diagnosed with a mild lat strain after having an MRI. Giolito was put on the injured list Tuesday as more of procedural matter, but there is no long-term worry over his second trip to the IL this season.

After finishing last among Major League qualifiers in 2018 with a 6.13 ERA, Giolito’s 2.72 improvement to 3.41 is the third best in history behind the Cubs' Dick Ellsworth (-2.98 from 1962-63) and the White Sox Dennis Lamp (-2.79 from 1980-81), per STATS. His 228 strikeouts are the seventh-highest total in franchise history.

Less than 24 hours after receiving the shutdown news, though, Giolito still couldn’t completely reflect on what was nothing short of an All-Star turnaround.

“Kind of, but it’s tough because like in my mind, I had three more [starts],” Giolito said. “I wanted to continue to pitch well these last three, hopefully get a 15th win. At the same time, it is what it is. It’s time to put this season to bed, at least my personal season, and move on to focusing on what I can do to improve for next year.

“This year was like the debut of all the stuff that I worked on in the offseason put together. I was still working on stuff in Spring Training. I was still working on stuff in April.

“Now the baseline is there,” Giolito said. “I’m not going into this offseason in October and learning all this new stuff. I’m just going to perfect it. I want to make everything better. I want to get more consistent. I’m excited because I just can’t wait to see all the areas I can improve.”

Road shutouts of the Astros on May 23 and the Twins on Aug. 21 were the top moments this season for Giolito. That Minnesota shutout brought Giolito’s win total to its final 14 against nine losses, and as Giolito pointed out, he wanted to get to 15.

The most important numbers to Giolito are K/BB ratio, walks per nine and WHIP. His 1.06 WHIP ranked fourth in the AL, as did his 11.62 K/9. His 4.00 K/BB ratio placed him sixth.

Wins do matter to Giolito, but just not as a purely raw statistic.

“That means that I did my job, I was in the job deep enough to earn a win,” Giolito said. “When I left the game, we were winning the game, which is the ultimate ‘I did my job as a starting pitcher,’ even though unless you are in the NL, it’s not like you can go in and score runs for yourself.

“But it’s kind of like that stat that measures how good you are at doing your job. I’m not like, ‘Oh, my goal is to get X amount of wins this year.’ It’s just I want to get as many as possible because I know if I’m getting wins, I’m doing my job.”

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