It’s almost impossible to name a player who had a more disappointing season for the White Sox this year than poor Lucas Giolito. Sure, Michael Kopech wound up needing Tommy John but a pitcher getting hurt is more an accepted fact of life than a true disappointment. Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson didn’t have the breakout seasons we all hoped for, but they still managed to provide positive value. No, the number one answer with a bullet is unfortunately Giolito.
Things haven’t been going well for the once top prospect since before being the crown jewel of the Adam Eaton trade, but things were looking somewhat up during Spring Training. His fastball velocity jumped back up to 94 MPH and he was actually able to abuse hitters with it again. But once things moved back to the Midwest and games actually started to matter again, he slipped back into the 91-92 MPH range we’ve come to expect and things rapidly fell apart.
Giolito led the American League in both earned runs and walks allowed (118 and 90 respectively). He became the first White Sox pitcher to qualify for the highest ERA in the AL since Jose Contreras’ 5.57 back in 2007. His K:BB ratio danced far too close to 1 (1.39) for comfort, especially from someone who was once supposed to be a top guy. Over six starts in May, hitters looked like All-Stars against Giolito (.283/.397/.513). The only real bright spot in the ordeal that was his 2018 is that he made 32 starts and threw 173.1 innings.
For the past two seasons, I’ve clung to the Gavin Floyd comparison for dear life and it still fits. It’s incredibly hard to actually become a bonafide ace pitcher and sometimes the road you take ultimately winds up turning you into a mid-to-back of the rotation stalwart who just soaks up innings in a useful manner for a handful of years. Floyd took his lumps for four years in the majors before eventually figuring things out so it’s not unheard of to think Giolito could make that jump in the nearish future. But he’ll need to show some solid improvement next year to start getting that level of faith back.
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