No velo, no problem: Giolito gets whiffs with new approach

March 21st, 2023

PHOENIX -- had no complaints about his start in a 6-5 White Sox victory over the Brewers on Tuesday, aside from a hanging changeup leading to Mike Brousseau’s two-run home run in the second inning.

Brousseau’s opposite-field blast was the only hit allowed by the White Sox right-hander over 4 1/3 innings, with Giolito striking out six and walking two.

“That was really the only big mistake,” Giolito said. “First couple of innings, a little bit rusty. Didn't have the command going quite yet. [It was] kind of a cold, rainy day and then [I] kind of got into a good groove. That's what we like to see.

“It's one of those outings where it's like I'm getting better as the game goes on. During the season, I'd be pitching into the seventh inning there."

After coming into Spring Training 35 pounds lighter compared to this time last season, Giolito has fanned 15 over 9 1/3 innings covering three Cactus League starts. His velocity was in the 91- to 94-mph range, according to the American Family Fields radar readings, but velocity doesn’t seem to be a worry or a concern for Giolito with the way he’s throwing.

“I'm missing bats. I don't care how hard I'm throwing,” Giolito said. “Like today, the fastball is lower velocity. It was a cold, rainy day, lower-velocity heater. But using it in conjunction with the changeup and slider, they're late on it. I'm just kind of pitching.

“Making good pitches and throwing good sequences with all my stuff. I feel like that's when I'm at my best. I'm not really concerned with velocity anymore, to be honest. I like the way I'm throwing."

caught Giolito against the Brewers, but the 28-year-old also has thrown to and -- the three catchers remaining in big league camp. Giolito has a good rapport with all three, while also liking the shape of his pitches, how they are working and the sequencing.

There was a light rain falling in the early innings of Tuesday's contest, as Giolito mentioned, and an unheard of March-in-Arizona game-time temperature of 63 degrees. But the slightly inclement weather was viewed more as a positive than a deterrent by Giolito.

“Usually Spring Training in Arizona is sun shining. It’s 80 degrees,” Giolito said. “But it hasn’t been that way this spring, so it’s better preparation [for] when we are back in Chicago and Detroit and all those places in April.

“I really like where my offspeed stuff is at: changeup, curveball, slider. I'm liking the swings that I'm getting. Keeping guys off balance, utilizing -- especially with the slider -- using it to lefties and righties. It's been a really good pitch for me, just developing that. During each outing, I feel like I've had to make quick adjustments and I've been able to do that, to be able to get out of some situations and keep it going. So it's been very productive."

There is one more Cactus League start for Giolito on Sunday against the Rockies in the 2023 Camelback Ranch home finale, followed by a Game 3 regular-season start in Houston. But Giolito won’t look ahead to the defending World Series champions until after Sunday.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol views season preparation and results in five- to seven-day periods. When one is done, then he’ll move on to the next. Giolito and his teammates have bought into Grifol’s philosophy.

“Yeah, I think it’s been very productive,” Giolito said. “For me right now, I’m going into my preparation for my final spring outing. So that’s where my mind is at. And then after that … all right, cool, prepare for Houston. Keeping things very simple and being locked in on the daily work rather than looking at the big picture.

“I feel like keeping it present has been a much better mindset for me to take on. Obviously Pedro has been preaching it. I bought in. I feel like we all bought in, and we’ve had a very productive camp.”

World Baseball Classic supporter
Grifol will look forward to getting Lance Lynn, Tim Anderson and Kendall Graveman back in camp after Team USA plays in Tuesday night’s World Baseball Classic championship. He’s also a strong supporter of the competition.

“Being from Miami and just passing right by that stadium every single day, to see that place react to the WBC the way it did and the community that surrounds that stadium, I think it’s been great for baseball,” Grifol said. “It was great for Miami. … The whole WBC has been great.”