Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria held up a Lucas Giolito bobblehead when asked if he had named a starting pitcher for Friday’s season opener against the Minnesota Twins.
“I don’t know, I’ll let you guys figure it out a little bit,” Renteria said Sunday. “Without saying anything, I’ll just let you figure it out.”
The Sox left no doubt later, tweeting that Giolito indeed will start the opener.
Giolito took another step toward that first start in Saturday’s intrasquad game at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I feel prepared for my first start, getting the pitch count up there in the 100 range,” he said earlier Sunday, before Renteria met with reporters. “(I) got a lot of good work in mixing up my pitches, probably more so than I would when facing a team during the season.”
Giolito looks to build off a 2019 season in which he made a tremendous turnaround, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA. He finished fifth in the American League in ERA and was seventh with 228 strikeouts.
“He has grown immensely over the last couple of years,” Renteria said. “He’s much more comfortable in his own skin. He always has been comfortable in his own skin, but I’m sure having success continues to build on that confidence.”
Giolito had a 6.13 ERA in 2018. His 2.72 improvement was the third-best in major-league history behind the Cubs’ Dick Ellsworth (2.98 from 1962 to ‘63) and the Sox’s Dennis Lamp (2.79 from 1980 to ‘81), according to STATS.
“He was able to start showing that promise,” Renteria said. “He understands where he’s at. He knows, without putting too much on himself, that he’s got to go out and just execute. He’s come into his own understanding and appreciating his ability for consistency.
“You are looking for a No. 1 guy. You want a guy who is going to be able to either keep you in games, allow you to stop streaks. A guy that has a good mix of pitches and a confidence and a demeanor that allows him to be able to overcome many obstacles. We expect he will continue to grow into that role, and it will be nice for everybody to see over the next few years.”
Teammate Dallas Keuchel sees “an ability to be an ace” in Giolito.
“He’s every bit of a horse that you’d want at the top of the rotation,” Keuchel said July 10. “He was in line to throw 200 innings this year if it was a normal season. He’s got all the intangibles you want in a quality major-league pitcher that can do it for years to come.”
As the season inches closer, Giolito said his preparation process is “just sticking to my routine.”
“The routine that works for me, the one that I’ve been developing over the last few years, day in and day out, putting my work in, knowing what I need to accomplish each and every day to prepare myself for my next start,” Giolito said. “I have it pretty clear-cut now. I know what I have to do each day I come to the field, so it’s all about just staying focused and getting it done on a daily basis, putting that good work in.”
He’s excited to see how the season unfolds for the Sox.
“There’s excitement on our team, across the league,” Giolito said. “This season, despite the fact we’re starting so late, it’s really creeping up on us here. Summer camp feels like it just blew by, and now we’re ready to go.”
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