White Sox 3 Up, 3 Down: Giolito Showcasing Growth

After a rocky 2018, Lucas Giolito is 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA this season.

Chris Emma
May 13, 2019 - 10:52 am
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(670 The Score) White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson crushed his eighth homer of the season and right-hander Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of one-run ball as the White Sox earned a 5-1 win against the Blue Jays on Sunday to cap their weekend with a series win in Toronto.

Here are the latest trends with the White Sox:

THREE UP

1.) Gio-metry

After Giolito finished 2018 and his first full season in the big leagues with a 6.13 ERA, his future was clouded and many wondered what was ahead this year. So far, Giolito has rebounded by establishing himself as a quality young arm for the White Sox.

Giolito improved to 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA (3.05 FIP) over seven starts this season after striking out eight Blue Jays and walking just one over his seven innings Sunday. Giolito has a 10.89 strikeouts-per-nine-innings mark, which is the best for any qualified pitcher who's 24 or younger.

Giolito has posted a swing-and-miss rate of 25.9 percent and 18.9 percent in the zone, meaning his stuff is often fooling hitters.

2.) Yes he McCann

With respect to the breakout season of Anderson and the encouraging results from Giolito, neither is the White Sox's biggest surprise so far. That would be catcher James McCann, who joined the team as a backup in the offseason and has statistically been one of the best backstops in baseball.

McCann has a 1.4 WAR, per Fangraphs, which ranks third among all catchers despite him only having 95 plate appearances. After a disappointing 2018, McCann has a slash line of .382/.421/.607, a weighted on-base percentage of .435 and a weighted-runs-created-plus of 179.

3.) 30-30 Anderson?

The art of the stolen base has been lost in baseball, a result of a modernized game. The few exceptions are terrific athletes like Anderson who can steal bases with ease. Given the power tool Anderson also owns, it's worth wondering whether he can join elite company as a 30-30 player.

Anderson has eight homers and 12 stolen bases (one caught stealing) this season. The White Sox are just shy of the one-quarter mark of the season, meaning Anderson remains on pace to surpass 30-30 after hitting 20 homers and stealing 26 bases in 2018.

THREE DOWN

1.) Out in left field

The combination of injuries and inconsistencies have left the White Sox with a worthless outfield -- at least according to FanGraphs' value. The grouping has recorded a 0.0 WAR in 2019.

Leury Garcia has been a strong piece to the puzzle as the White Sox's lead-off hitter and starting center fielder, as he's a 0.8-win player, per FanGraphs. The rest of the outfield has simply been puzzling in a search for solutions. 

Adam Engel was sent to the minors as a 0.0-win player with poor offensive value. Daniel Palka had a -0.8-win value in only 13 games before getting demoted to Triple-A, as he started 1-for-35 at the plate. Ryan Cordell and Nicky Delmonico have produced little in filling roles.

Fortunately for the White Sox, promising rookie outfielder Eloy Jimenez (ankle) should return from the injured list soon.

2.) Hope Yonder?

The White Sox acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso this offseason with the hopes he could add a slugging bat to the middle of their order. That hasn't been the case.

Alonso has a slash line of .178/.284/.349 in 2019 and has been a detriment to the lineup. He did go 2-for-4 with a homer in the win Sunday, which he hopes can help him turn the corner.

3.) Bad Beef

While McCann has emerged as the White Sox's starting catcher, Welington Castillo has endured rough struggles to start the year. Castillo is hitting .164, a big downtick from his .259 mark a year ago. While Castillo is drawing walks on 12.5 percent of his plate appearances (.300 on-base percentage), the batted balls haven't brought results.

Castillo has a .205 batting average on balls in play this season, well down from the .322 mark he posted last season. It hasn't been the result of bad luck, as Castillo is producing hard contact on only 23.9 percent of his batted balls.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.