Chicago White Sox starter Lucas Giolito authored one of the most impressive breakout seasons in baseball in 2019. Unfortunately, his year will end prematurely. On Monday, the White Sox announced Giolito will miss the final two weeks of the season after suffering a mild lat strain -- an injury that typically takes about a month to fully recover from:
White Sox say Lucas Giolito has a mild lat strain that was revealed on an MRI today. They say it’s normally a 3-4 week injury, and thus ends his season— James Fegan (@JRFegan) September 17, 2019
Giolito, who had been perhaps the worst starter in baseball in 2018, made 29 starts this season. In those, he posted a 3.41 ERA (135 ERA+) and struck out exactly four batters for every one he walked. Those marks were good enough to get him named to his first career All-Star team.
Giolito owes his career resurgence in part to redesigned (and shortened) arm action. He threw harder this year than in the past as a result (94 mph vs. 92 mph, per Statcast) and in general saw his pitches gain more effectiveness. To wit, batters hit .203 against his four-seam fastball this season, whereas in 2018 they hit .274 against the pitch.
While Giolito's injury is unlikely to have long-term ramifications, it is the latest in a long line of maladies faced by young White Sox pitchers this season. The White Sox saw three of their better starting prospects -- Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert -- miss most or all of the season because of Tommy John surgery. And that isn't even touching on the injuries faced by some of the organization's brightest hitting prospects.
If the White Sox are to make the jump in 2020, they'll need to do a better job of keeping their best young players healthy -- including, of course, Giolito.