Lucas Giolito began the year in Double-A and ended it in the majors, but it wasn't exactly a completely successful season for the phenom. He put up strong, but not truly dominant, numbers in the high minors but struggled with his command and control with Washington, resulting in walk and home run rates out of character for Giolito compared to his minor league work. End-of-season fatigue may have been a factor, as his fastball was averaging 93.4 mph in the majors instead of popping the high 90s, but his workload only increased marginally from 2015, so whispers about his health inevitably followed (he's had Tommy John once already). At his best, the right-hander still features that explosive fastball, plus a hammer curve and changeup that could soon surpass the curve as an out pitch, and an offseason of rest might be all he needs to regain his top-shelf stuff and seize hold of a spot in the White Sox's rotation. It's also possible that despite his scouting reports, he takes a while to adjust to the majors -- his numbers last year bear some similarities to Kevin Gausman's the season he broke into the majors as a 22-year-old.
Giolito was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. Giolito's stock is down and he didn't do anything to change that narrative this spring. He posted a 5.59 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and six strikeouts in 9.2 innings, but more importantly, he was sitting at just 90 mph in a recent start and was struggling with his command -- the two main issues that plagued him last season. It's possible that he was dealing with a case of dead arm and he will be able to build up strength during the season, but it's also possible that the electric stuff that once had him positioned as the top pitching prospect in the game is never coming back. The White Sox can gain an extra year of control by holding Giolito down until May 24, so that seems quite likely.
Giolito allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning in Tuesday's game against Seattle, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Giolito got off on the wrong foot when an 0-2 fastball to the leadoff hitter caught too much of the plate, resulting in a leadoff single. It all kind of snowballed from there until manager Rick Renteria pulled him after just 30 pitches, well shy of his allotted pitch count -- he finished his work in the bullpen after getting yanked. The right-hander was certainly humbled by the performance and will get at least three more starts to fix a flat fastball and throw curveballs for strikes.
Giolito gave up some hard contact and consistently pitched from behind in the count, but allowed just one run over four innings in Thursday's game against the Diamondbacks, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. Giolito credited the defense around him, particularly catcher Kevan Smith, who blocked several pitches that landed in the dirt. It was the second shaky outing in three spring starts for the White Sox's highest-rated pitching prospect, but the organization is preaching patience with Giolito. The right-hander, who had a rough introduction to the majors while with Washington in 2016, will be given ample opportunity to get himself straight at Triple-A Charlotte to start 2017.
Giolito allowed one hit and struck out three over three scoreless innings in Saturday's game against the Angels. Giolito was much improved over his first spring outing, noting the improved velocity in his fastball and being more comfortable with more reps.
Giolito took the mound for the first time in a White Sox uniform Monday, allowing one earned run and three hits while striking out two in two innings of work. Giolito's first start of the spring had some bright moments, but was fairly shaky as a whole. The 22-year-old began his outing by giving up hard-hit singles to Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant, and ended up allowing a long home run to Addison Russell an inning later. He'll look to improve upon Monday's start going forward as he continues to get settled in at big league camp.