Giolito: Sox Have Strength To Overcome Kopech Loss

"The depth we have starting pitching-wise is great," Lucas Giolito says.

Bruce Levine
July 13, 2020 - 9:58 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Plenty of intrigue has followed White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech's choice to sit out the 2020 season, a decision he reached after conversing with the top officials in the organization.

The team hasn't explained Kopech's exact reasoning, and he hasn't yet publicly spoken about a decision that came in amid the coronavirus pandemic. While expressing support for Kopech, White Sox ace Lucas Giolito also maintained confidence that the rest of the pitching staff will step up to fill the void.

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"We as a team, players and organization support Michael in everything he is going through," Giolito said Monday. "It is just one of those things where he doesn't feel comfortable being here. It is a very strange season to begin with. Michael is not the only player to opt out. It is what it is. I think the depth we have starting pitching-wise is great. The bullpen has been looking fantastic. It sucks not having him, but he will come back strong and ready to compete next season."

Giolito likes the makeup of the White Sox's staff that includes a mix of veterans in Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez and younger, less experienced pitchers in the mix like Reynaldo Lopez, Dylan Cease and Carlos Rodon.

"I have been liking what I have seen from all of our starters," Giolito said. "The guys have been filling up the zone and attacking hitters. That will be what we have to do as a staff to get deep into games and give our team the best chance to win. We as a group are communicating and sharing information. I love where we are at. We are right where we need to be."

Of course, it's Giolito who will be expected to lead the staff. It's a role he relishes, as he explained recently. 

On Monday, Giolito took the mound in the White Sox's intrasquad game. He threw 27 pitches in a rough first inning, then felt better.

"I felt very solid today," Giolito said. "The only thing I an harping on is the first inning. I needed to come out with a little more sense of urgency. I needed a little bit better rhythm and tempo. We did find it going into the second, third and fourth inning.

"The emphasis for me is working on my breaking stuff. Today was curveball practice day. I threw a lot more curveballs than I would in most starts. I threw them in counts I usually wouldn't throw them. Today, the way I was throwing my heater and changeup, I could have easily relied on those two pitches. We just wanted to mix more breaking balls in."

Giolito has been preaching mental toughness -- both for himself and to his teammates when they encounter adversity on the field.

"This is all about confidence," Giolito said. "I was in a first-and-third situation today with nobody out. At that point, you have to remind yourself how good you are at this. You have to believe your stuff is better than the guy who is hitting. You must have your full trust in that. That is something I work very hard on, and I see Dylan and Lopie working hard on the mental part as well. Just building mental toughness and becoming more confident is key. We as a group have those conversations all of the time. I am very impressed by how those two guys have progressed in that area."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.