Giolito flashing ace potential as season wanes

Righty allows just one run over seven innings in dominant start vs. Royals

Giolito flashing ace potential as season wanes

CHICAGO -- Lucas Giolito stood as the local postgame television interview guest Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field after an 8-1 White Sox victory over the Royals guaranteed the rebuilding South Siders (63-92) would not lose 100 games this season.

Giolito was the logical choice to talk with the White Sox television crew, as he put together his fifth quality start in his last six trips to the mound, allowing one run on five hits over seven innings. But during the chat with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Giolito could feel the presence of Jose Abreu and his Gatorade cooler creeping closer.

"I could feel it coming," a smiling Giolito said as he talked to the rest of the media in the White Sox clubhouse. "I was like screwing up a question when I was on the air or whatever because I could just like feel something creeping behind me. And then sure enough he just stood there and like, 'All right, let's go.'"

Giolito's stellar performance

Since making his White Sox debut on Aug. 22, there have been pretty much nothing but good feelings for the right-hander once considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. Against the Royals Sunday, Giolito struck out five and didn't issue a walk while throwing 65 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

Statcast™ had Giolito with 10 swinging strikes and 16 called strikes. He had eight of the swinging strikes and 10 of the called strikes off of his fastball, which topped out at 95.3 mph and averaged 92.4.

"He's got angle, he's got height," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's got good angle so that creates, believe it or not, some deception and he can ride it up out of the zone. And then he comes out from that angle with the breaking ball or his changeup."

Renteria on Giolito's pitching

"It's the end of the year, I have one more [start] so I'm just trying to get into my legs and drive the ball through the strike zone," said Giolito, who felt he was throwing a little harder at the outset. "Smitty [catcher Kevan Smith] called a really good game again back there. I don't think I shook off a pitch the entire time. We were just on the same page and it was working well."

There were postgame questions for both Renteria and Giolito as to whether the rookie right-hander and his 2.38 ERA can be a top-of-the-rotation presence. At seven White Sox starts and 45 1/3 innings, it might be a little early to put Giolito at that lofty spot.

But there's little doubt Giolito is working at the top of his game, even timing the Gatorade shower perfectly on a 90-degree and humid afternoon.

"When I got my first win I was just super cold the whole time," Giolito said. "But the shower out there on the field was very refreshing.

"My confidence is there. I trust my stuff, I trust my pitches. There are things to work on, things I'm talking to [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] about. There's always stuff to improve, for sure. I'd say that just the confidence and everything is right where it needs to be so I'm going to continue to try and pitch like I am."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.