White Sox: Bold Predictions for 2020 Starting Rotation
By Rob Hill
No. 1 Starter: Lucas Giolito
CURRENT LEVEL: MLB
2017 SEASON: 3-3, 2.38 ERA, 45.1 IP, 34 SO
MLB ETA: 2017
Frontline starter, top of the food chain, or ace for short. All of these will be future synonyms for future number one starter of the 2020 White Sox Giolito. The 23-year-old pitcher is arguably already the most talented starter in the Sox rotation right now. His call up to Chicago this August was the most talked about move the Sox have made all season next to the call up of young phenom Yoan Moncada.
Giolito brought a mid 90’s fastball and a nasty hook to the South Side this season that resulted in him recording five quality starts in seven opportunities. All together that led to Giolito ending 2017 with a staggeringly low 2.38 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. His dominance dates all the way back to his high school days. In 2012, Giolito’s senior year of high school, he was projected by many to be the first overall pick in the country.
The perspective of that instantly changed once Giolito sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. He was still drafted 16th overall that same summer by the Washington Nationals. After Giolito signed nearly a $3 million dollar signing bonus, he underwent Tommy John surgery the following month. His arm strength and perseverance were put to the test, but Giolito did not plunder under this daunting task. Over the course of his four minor league seasons in the Nationals system, he rifled through minor league batters and most importantly, no injury relapses.
A 25-15 record with a 2.57 ERA over three minor league levels made Giolito the consistent top pitching prospect in all of baseball. He made his much anticipated debut in June of 2016. Giolito tossed four scoreless innings in his MLB debut for the Nationals, but struggled in the other 17 innings he threw for the rest of the season.
Last offseason, Giolito was the headliner of the deal that sent Eaton to the Nationals. As the 2017 season rolled around, Giolito started his year at Triple-A Charlotte and initially struggled. During the first half of his stint in Triple-A, Giolito went 3-8 with an ERA of almost 5.00. His confidence did not fault as Giolito quickly rebounded on his command issues and turned around his season in the second half; going 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA.
Next: White Sox End Series with Series Loss to Cleveland
His turnaround led to him gaining an August call-up with the Sox. Without much surprise to anyone, Giolito managed to thrive more in the majors. He earned his first MLB win with the Sox and proved to be their best pitcher down the stretch. If that is any indication of what’s to come, the Sox might have stumbled upon their generational pitcher. Giolito can hopefully enshrine himself in White Sox lore as one of the best ever throw a baseball.