There are numerous things wrong with the 2023 White Sox: bad ownership, iffy management, poor hitting execution, the list goes on. However, pitching is one aspect that does not deserve to be on that list.
Since the hiring of Ethan Katz, worrying about White Sox pitching has not been as much of an issue compared to the hitting woes. His work and the turnaround of Lucas Giolito's career is nothing short of a miracle.
As the trade deadline approaches, the White Sox are in a strange no man's land position. While all the signs point to the Sox being sellers, a measly six games behind first in the AL Central suggests a run is not out of the question.
If the team still has a chance to win the division title, it wouldn't be wise to trade away their top-performing players this season. A core player or two might but the White Sox should not be selling their best talent just yet. In 2023, Giolito has been that top-tier talent.
The Chicago White Sox are seeing Lucas Giolito pitch much better.
By his standards, this season is relatively mediocre for Giolito but it's a significant bounce back after last season. In almost every statistic, Giolito is having a better season than last year.
Given his track record, doing better in every aspect compared to last year is all he needed to do to earn a contract extension.
Despite the strikeout percentage remaining the same, his walk percentage is down from 8.7% to 7.5%. Last year hitters had a .270 batting average, .340 on balls in play.
This season, hitters have a .232 batting average and hitting .283 on balls in play. The WHIP is down from 1.44 to 1.20, and the runners left on base are up 71% to 80%.
In June, after four starts, Giolito pitched 24 innings allowing a 1.50 ERA while hitters have been slashing .191/.265/.326 with a .591 OPS. At 99 K's for the season, he's on pace to strike out 200 plus.
A few aspects of his game that he could improve on are the first and fourth innings and the long ball.
In his 16 starts, Giolito has a 5.63 ERA in the first inning. He's allowed ten earned runs on four home runs and 23 hits for a 1.81 WHIP. As the game progresses, his ERA falls to 2.81 in the second and 1.14 in the third.
The fourth inning, though, might be the worst. In 15.2 innings pitched in the 4th inning, Giolito has an 8.04 ERA allowing 14 earned runs off five home runs and 20 hits.
Through 92 innings this season, Giolito's allowed 14 home runs. In his worst season, 2018, he allowed 27.
If there is a case to make that Lucas Giolito belongs on the White Sox, his home and away splits make that case.
Away from Guaranteed Rate Field, Giolito has a 4.64 ERA in eight games started. Through 42.2 innings, he's allowed 46 hits, 22 earned runs, and walked 20, striking out 46 with a 1.55 WHIP.
In his eight starts in front of the Chicago crowd, Giolito allowed ten fewer hits, nine fewer earned runs, 11 fewer walks, and seven more strikeouts for a 0.91 WHIP, pitching seven more innings with a 2.36 ERA.
In his career with the White Sox, Giolito became a captain on the pitching staff and the face of the franchise. On days he doesn't pitch, he is animated in the dugout, banging on the padded railing to hype his team up. What Giolito provides goes beyond what he does every five days.
Including Giolito in a trade this season would be a mistake. The clubhouse has taken enough blows so losing a vocal leader would make it tough to stay motivated. A right retooling trade from this core exists. Giolito does not belong in that package.
It won't be surprising if ownership decides to move on from Giolito. They've repeatedly shown that they are out of touch with the team and its fanbase.
Unfortunately, the odds Giolito doesn't get a contract extension with the White Sox and is traded are high. It will be a mistake if the front office doesn't offer Giolito a contract extension and trades him.