He has loved baseball ever since he was a little kid. His parents, Rick and Lindsay, played a big part in his love for the game. Lucas would sit between them while his father rooted for the Mets and his mother cheered for the Twins.
"I was a baby sitting there in front of baseball games," he said. "I started T-ball at 5, 6 years old, and I just kept growing and growing. I did a lot of reports in grade school—Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, all the legends."
As Giolito got older and showed an interest in pitching, he admired Tigers ace Justin Verlander because of his consistency on the mound.
In 2012, his senior year at Harvard-Westlake High school in Studio City, California, Lucas committed to UCLA.
He had pitched only 17 innings in 2012 because he sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow in March. He went 2-1, 0.84 ERA with 15 strikeouts while allowing seven hits and three walks.
He comes from a wealthy family. Lucas' parents, Rick Giolito and Lindsay Frost, are Hollywood actors who have appeared on several television shows.
Rick appeared on the TV series "Hunter" and "Who's the Boss" as well as the movie "Hit the Dutchman." Where he really made his mark was as the executive producer of the popular Medal of Honor video-game series.
Lucas' mom, Lindsay Frost has had parts in such movies as "Dead Heat" and "The Ring," as well as Collateral Damage and many TV series, such as "Frasier," "The Unit," "Crossing Jordan" and "Bull."
And there is Giolito's grand-father, Warren Frost. Fans of the iconic TV comedy "Seinfeld" might not recognize the name until they realize he played Henry Ross in five episodes of the show—the father of Susan Ross, the erstwhile fiancee of George Costanza, until dying after licking the toxic adhesive on the cheap wedding invitations George bought for her.
You've seen Lindsay Frost in dozens of movies and TV shows over the years. She's also an accomplished artist with paintings inspired by her love of baseball. She also raised one of the best pitchers in the White Sox rotation — Lucas Giolito.
Now Frost is lending her talents to raise money for White Sox Charities. Five Sox-themed paintings will be on display in the #SoxSocial Tap Room for the rest of the season and then auctioned off. To see Frost's work go to LindsayFrost-Art.com. (WGN News- Aug. 13, 2019)
June 2012: The Nationals chose Giolito with their #1 pick. And he finally signed, on the deadline day of July 13 for a bonus of $2.9 million, $800,000 more than the slot.
Because Lucas comes from a wealthy family, he made it clear it would take a very significant signing bonus to keep him from going to UCLA. And the new draft rules restrict how much teams can offer once you get past the first couple of picks, so it was a real gamble for the Nats to take him where they did, knowing they'd have to save money with most of their other top-10 picks in order to give Giolito more than the slot recommendation for the No. 16 pick. It was bold, and it was savvy.
In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Giolito as the second-best prospect in the Nationals organization, behind only Anthony Rendon. They had Lucas as the #1 prospect in their farm system in the winters before 2014 and 2015 and 2016 spring camps opened—three years in a row.
After the White Sox acquired Lucas in December 2016, he was ranked the second-best prospect in that system, behind only INF Yoan Moncada.
Lucas is a good worker. He has impressive makeup and character.
He eats french toast and sausage for breakfast on the morning before he pitches. Or, he will a sausage and egg biscuit and some biscuits and gravy.
In 2014, Giolito got the full Minor League experience as he came back from Tommy John surgery. As a result, Lucas was awarded the Nationals' organization's 2014 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.
"Physically it's on a whole other level," said Giolito. "You're pitching every fifth day. You're going out there throwing five innings-plus, trying to stay out there as long as you can. There's a certain physical aspect to it that you've got to stay on your program, stay in shape and do all the right things. I felt I stayed strong throughout the year and ended up having a good one."
In 2015, the Nationals chose Giolito to play in the Futures Game.
January 2016: MLB.com caught up with Giolito to talk about his season and his future with the Nationals.
MLB.com: What was your reaction when you heard that you were invited to big league Spring Training?
Giolito: I was delighted. I feel like I've been working pretty hard the past two years, especially coming back from Tommy John surgery. It's a huge honor to get that invitation. It's a good step in the right direction toward making the club and contributing.
MLB.com: You will be working with Stephen Strasburg, who had Tommy John surgery in 2010. How fascinating will it be to work with him, especially with what he has gone through with the surgery and with the success he has had since that time?
Giolito: I met Stephen a couple of times. It's going to be awesome to be in the same clubhouse with him, as well as guys like (Max) Scherzer and Gio (Gonzalez). It will be great to see how those guys go about their business, how they are able to maintain health and strength throughout the entire year, which is something I have not done yet. I haven't pitched 200 innings (in a season) yet.
MLB.com: What did you think of your season in 2015?
Giolito: I thought it was a great year as far as learning about myself, developing certain aspects of the game. A lot of it was on the mental side. I wish my numbers were better. I felt, numbers-wise, I'm a better pitcher and I threw more. At the same time, there were a lot of things I improved on. For example, I got a lot better dealing with adversity on the mound. Earlier in the season, I let a lot of things get to me like the cheap hit, the ground-ball single or the broken-bat single that would maybe score a run or two. I focus on what I can focus on -- that next pitch, trying to get the next batter out.
MLB.com: Since you were drafted, what pitches have you developed in professional baseball?
Giolito: I threw all the same pitches in high school that I throw now. But after surgery, my circle changeup improved dramatically. During the Tommy John process, I was able to get that release point. I really developed the changeup to the point that it's a pitch that I can throw in any count. I love to throw it when I'm behind in the count—2-0, 2-1. It keeps hitters off-balance. I feel like that pitch has improved dramatically over the course of my pro career. (Bill Ladson - MLB.com - January 5, 2016)
June 28, 2016: Giolito was supposed to go to Triple-A when he received a phone call from assistant general manager Doug Harris telling him to "hang on, be ready for whatever." Giolito was not sure what that meant, before the next call from Harris told him he would be promoted to the Majors.
"I'll remember that call for the rest of my life," Giolito said.
Giolito said he received scores of pregame advice, but a piece of advice offered by Nationals manager Dusty Baker -- who got it from Hank Aaron, no less -- stuck with him: "You can be anxious, you can be nervous, but don't be scared. You belong here," Baker told him. (Collier - MLB.com - 6/28/16)
Although he didn't get the victory in his first start, delayed twice by rain, Giolito didn't forget who helped him make it to the big show. Sitting behind home plate were his parents, Rick Giolito and Lindsay Frost, and many other family members.
"I don't know if my dad was even able to watch. He might have been hiding somewhere and nervous," Major League Baseball's top prospect said. "He probably kept it under control. My family has been there every step of the way, going back to when I was in Little League. My mom and dad driving me to games, to travel baseball, waking up at five in the morning going God knows where in the middle of California. It all led up to this moment."
Lucas told his parents about the debut and according to Rick, they were taken by surprise. It came three-plus years after Lucas had Tommy John surgery.
"He is 21 years old and he spent a year-and-a-half in rehab. We are so proud of him," Rick said. "We thought he was going to Triple-A and then he called us and said, 'Look, you might want to make plans to come to Washington.' I said, 'Oh, my goodness, really?' We were shocked."
Frost said words can't express how proud she is of her oldest son. She was in Vermont with her parents when she was able get on a conference call and her husband and Lucas gave her the great news.
"It's a phenomenal experience," she said. "My husband was in California with our other son. I got a call from Lucas and Rick. I knew when Rick said, 'Oh, I have Lucas on the phone, too,' I knew there was some extra special news. It was very quick. We all switched flights, made flights. It's been a hectic couple of days, but totally worth it."
While his Major League debut was shortened by a rain delay, Giolito still managed to impress, allowing only one hit over four scoreless innings. (Ladson - MLB.com - 6/28/16)
If Lucas Giolito had followed the path traveled by his family, he might be getting ready for the Academy Awards instead of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Reviewing dailies at some exotic locale would be more likely than throwing bullpen sessions at Camelback Ranch. He would be taking cues from Martin Scorsese instead of White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. But the acting bug never really hit Lucas.
.Giolito's father, Rick, has 10 acting credits on his IMDB page including "As the World Turns," "Hunter," "Who's the Boss," "Jake and the Fatman" and "Twin Peaks." Giolito's mother, Lindsay Frost, features 49 credits dating back to "Hill Street Blues" in 1983. She also acted on "As the World Turns," as well as "Crossing Jordan," "Boston Legal" and "Without a Trace."
Lindsay's brother, Mark, is the co-creator of "Twin Peaks," and her brother, Scott, is a writer that has worked on "Twin Peaks," "Flipper" and "Andromeda." Then there's Giolito's grandfather, Warren Frost, who played Susan's father in the iconic comedy series "Seinfeld."
"It never interested me," Giolito said of acting. "I even remember I did a school play when I was in like the fourth grade, one of those really short low-key ones, where you don't have to learn many lines. I didn't feel comfortable doing it then. It was never for me. I just loved baseball ever since I was a little kid playing T-ball at 5 years old."
Giolito was asked about using the "Seinfeld" theme as his warmup music. The 6-foot-6 right-hander laughed and deferred, admitting he has to catch up on the show and learn about Prickly Pete, Snoopy and George's solarium in The Hamptons from an episode entitled "The Wizard," involving his grandfather.
"Guys are always asking about my grandfather being on Seinfeld and everything, which is awesome," Giolito said. "I know it's one of the best sitcoms ever, but I haven't seen enough of Seinfeld to get all the references. Reporters ask about it. Whenever a teammate or coach finds out, like [Cooper] asked me, I was talking with him on the phone, and he was like, 'I think I read somewhere that it was your grandfather on Seinfeld,' and I was like, 'Yes he was.' He was excited to hear that as a Seinfeld fan, as well."
Lucas' brother, Casey, turns 18 in May and is currently applying to theater programs in an attempt to join the family business. Lucas has nothing but pride for his family's accomplishments, something that actually is helping him handle part of his Major League dream.
"When I was a kid, I used to run lines with my mom when she had auditions. So talking with media has never been an issue," Giolito said. "I learned a lot from my mom growing up. The acting, writing, that talent in the family is fantastic. I'm glad I was able to grow up with it. I was able to learn a lot about that kind of side of the world, I guess you could say." (Scott Merkin - MLB.com - Feb. 2017)
The Taylor Hooton Foundation, a non-profit organization aiming to raise awareness about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and anabolic steroids in youth sports, announced that White Sox pitcher Lucas has been named to the foundation's advisory board.
Giolito became involved because he wants to do his part to "help keep the game clean," he said. The foundation reached out to him in Spring Training 2018, and though he said the board hasn't convened yet, he's looking forward to the first meeting.
"Just the unfair advantage it causes and how that can hurt baseball," Giolito said. "Then on top of that, just trying to set a good example for the younger generation of baseball players and athletes beyond that to know the risks involved in anabolic steroids, HGH, things like that."
Members of the board participate in the foundation's "It's All Me" campaign and help educate local youth communities about steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in the best ways they see fit.
After the death of Taylor Hooton in 2004 following his use of anabolic steroids, Hooton's family created the foundation in memory of the 17-year-old. "A lot of times, people focus on the reward gained from those and they don't worry so much about the long-term damage it can cause to your body," Giolito said, adding he wants to, as a role model, "bring awareness to all those things." (Gelman - mlb.com - 8/1/18)
September 8, 2018: Giolito's pre-game ritual makes it look like he was abducted by aliens. Baseball players do a lot of strange things to prepare to play in Major League games. A notoriously superstitious bunch, big leaguers often develop bizarre routines based on certain meals, how they put on a uniform, or a specific kind of workout.
Some of these routines are more standard across the game than others, but that doesn't make them any less unusual to an outside observer. In the case of Lucas Giolito, an important between-start routine is something known as cupping therapy.
Cupping was first brought to the mainstream during the 2016 Summer Olympics when swimmers like Michael Phelps were spotted with large red circles all over their bodies. Cupping has since become a training method in other sports, including baseball. And players like Giolito have taken a liking to the practice—with the knowledge that the huge dark circles on their skin are a bit odd to the naked eye. ( Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman )
Dec. 22, 2018: Lucas married Ariana Dubelko. Ariana graduated from SMU where she was a member of the Equestrian team. Her dad played football at Ohio State.
Adriana was on the equestrian team at SMU. She is currently enrolled in the veterinarian program at the Univ. of California-Davis.
Before 2019 spring training, Giolito took part in 20 sessions of a computer-based program called neurotherapy or neurobiofeedback. It uses real-time brain activity to teach self-regulation of brain function.
Asked to explain it in layman's terms, Lucas said, "Basically, it's having your brainwaves read. For me, it's basically about controlling my breathing and staying confident at all times."
Neurofeedback has caused Giolito to use his brain less on the mound and rely more on natural athleticism, which he believes has been a big help.
"There's times where I would say it's being too smart, I'd say it was being too methodical, analytical, thinking too mch about things that you don't have to think about," Giolito said of his old thought process. "For me, it's always easier when I can just shift the brain off and just work -- let my body work." (John Perrotto - Baseball Digest - Sept., 2019)
2019 Spring Training: The Cactus League split-squad starts for Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito took place approximately 19 miles apart in Arizona. But there still was a competitive kinship between these two talented young White Sox starters.
“Competition between teammates will always bring the best out of teammates,” said Giolito. “Always trying to compete in whatever we do, whether it’s our outings—if we are pitching on the same day—in the weight room, showing each other exercises, trying to outlift each other, outrun each other.
“All those things kind of come together and bring the best out of all the players. That’s what’s important is having a good camaraderie but also some friendly competition along the way.”
“There’s no like ‘I hate you and I want you to fail so I’m better,’” said a smiling Giolito. “That doesn’t breed anything good at all. It’s all about supporting each other, but at the same time, egging each other on and if you see someone slacking off in one area, then you give them a little kick in the butt and get them back on track.” (Scott Merkin -MLB.com - March 5, 2019)
July 2019: Giolito represented the White Sox in the All-Star Game.
Lucas took the mound in the fourth inning of the 2019 All-Star Game at Progressive Field, and he fit right in amongst baseball’s biggest stars. He issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, the Braves' Freddie Freeman, but then retired a trio of dangerous National League sluggers -- Cody Bellinger, Nolan Arenado and Josh Bell -- to complete his scoreless frame in the American League's 4-3 victory.
“Going out there that inning, facing some of the best hitters, further cements to me that this is where I belong,” Giolito said. “[I’ll] continue to build some confidence from there and keep riding it out.”
The first-time All-Star struck out Bellinger, an NL Most Valuable Player Award candidate, on an 82.8-mph inside changeup, and retired Arenado and Bell on a pair of soft groundouts.
“The closest thing I can compare it to is my MLB debut,” Giolito said. “Obviously I faced, 1-2-3, some of the best hitters in the game right now.”
“If you want to compete at this level and stay here for a long time, you have to have the confidence that you’re better than everybody else,” Giolito said. “That’s what I take in my start against whoever, in the regular season or an All-Star game. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
"I'm definitely not the guy who came up and set the league on fire. I took a bunch of lumps, especially in 2018," Giolito said. "I went into the 2018 offseason with a different gameplan. I knew I was so much better than what I showed all my time in the big leagues up until this year. I was able to turn it around quickly and get back on track to be the pitcher I know I can be." (Thornburg - mlb.com - 7/10/19)
2019 Season: Giolito got off to a rough start with a 5.30 ERA in April. However, he would follow that up with two dominant months where he allowed opponents to bat just 0.169 and 0.198 in May and June, respectively.
He finished the first half of the season with a 0.194 opponents’ batting average in 100 innings of work while striking out 120 batters and walking just 38. Overall, Giolito finished with a 3.41 ERA in 29 starts this season and a ridiculous 11.6 strikeouts per 9 innings.
April 26, 2020: The most fun part of viewing Giolito’s Twitch stream is his interactions with fans. Here are a few opinions Giolito shared during a recent AMA:
Movies -- Favorite Movie Ever: Saving Private Ryan. Worst Movie Ever Seen: Grown Ups 2. It was also the closest he’s ever gotten leaving a theater during a movie. Favorite Movie Director: Quentin Tarantino. Favorite Baseball Movie: Bull Durham. Major League is his second favorite. Hoosiers is one of his favorite sports movies.Favorite Martin Scorsese Movie: Goodfellas. Not really into comic book movies or Disney movies.
Television -- Giolito is currently watching Ozark. He thinks the show is OK because of Jason Bateman, but the writing is too predictable. He did see Tiger King. He doesn’t know if Carol Baskin killed her ex-husband, but Giolito doesn’t agree with the free-Joe Exotic crowd. Next show Giolito will be binging: Better Call Sau. lBreaking Bad is one of his favorite TV shows. His Top 5 Favorite Sitcoms (in no particular order): The Office, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, and Schitt’s Creek. Favorite show as a kid: Pokemon. Best Animated Series Ever: Avatar: The Last Airbender. Criminal Minds is a guilty pleasure.
Video Games -- Favorite Video Game Ever: The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time. Most Played Video Game: Rocket League. Go to Super Smash Bros. Character: Kirby. Go to Mario Kart character: Yoshi. First Video Game Console: Nintendo 64.
Food/Drink -- Beer Choices: Started with IPAs but now prefers pilsners. Listed Modelo as a personal favorite. Go to Quarantine Snack: Snyder’s Honey Mustard n’ Onion pretzel bites. Portillo’s order: Italian beef with everything, fries, and a milkshake. However, he thinks the Chocolate Cake Shake is too much. Go to Fast Food: In-N-Out. Giolito does have a beef with Five Guys. He enjoys his burgers to be medium rare and doesn’t like how every burger at Five Guys is cooked well done. He also thinks Whataburger is comparable to McDonald’s. From personal experience, Giolito will lose some clout from fans living in Texas.
Music -- Listens mostly to rappers. Personal favorites: Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, and Kid Cudi. Big fan of the album Blondie by Frank Ocean. Not a country music fan. He also enjoys reggae style music and is a fan of Rebelution. Best Player on his High School Team Senior Year: Max Fried. Best Harvard-Westlake Player of All-Time: Jack Flaherty. Most Fun Pitch to Throw: High heaters.
Giolito has participated in quite a few First Pitch ceremonies at Guaranteed Rate Field. The best first pitch he caught was Sister Mary Jo Sobieck. His favorite First Pitch is with Kanye West.
How three HS teammates became MLB stars
A trio of Harvard-Westlake pitchers is already dominating in the Major Leagues right now. That's Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito and Max Fried -- three teammates at Harvard-Westlake who all went on to be first-round Draft picks and all had breakout seasons in 2019 for their respective big league clubs, the Cardinals, White Sox and Braves.
This is what the three of them did last season (2019):
Flaherty (age 23): 11-8, 2.75 ERA, 231 K, 196 1/3 IPGiolito (age 24): 14-9, 3.41 ERA, 228 K, 176 2/3 IPFried (age 25): 17-6, 4.02 ERA, 173 K, 165 2/3 IP
Flaherty finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting after a second half for the ages. His 0.91 ERA post-All-Star break was the second-best ever for a qualified starter (behind Jake Arrieta's 0.75 in 2015).
Giolito went from having the worst ERA of any qualified starter in 2018 (6.13) to ranking among the American League leaders in '19 -- he finished fifth in the AL ERA race and sixth in the AL Cy Young vote.
And Fried showed in his first full season that he has the potential of a future ace, emerging as a key young starter in a playoff-bound Braves rotation alongside Mike Soroka. Not to mention that he has one of the prettiest curveballs this side of Clayton Kershaw. (David Adler - June 4, 2020)
Lucas is ready to become the Chisox staff's ace in 2020. “The way I look at it, being the ace of the staff, you are setting an example not just with what you are doing on the field, but also taking a more vocal role, which I feel like I’m trying to continue to get the feel for that,” Giolito said. “That’s pretty much what I want.
“I want to be that leader of the pitching staff, taking the ball in the first game, kind of setting the tone. But at the same time, I want to maintain that thought that I’m not the only ace on the team. I’ve got four more right behind me.” (Merkin - mlb.com - 7/8/2020)
June 2012: The Nationals chose Lucas in the first round, out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City, CA.
- Dec 7. 2016: The White Sox traded RF Adam Eaton to the Nationals for Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez, and RHP Dane Dunning.
|Home:||Hermosa Beach, CA||Team:||WHITE SOX|
|DOB:||7/14/1994||Agent:||Brodie Van Wagenen|
|Birth City:||Santa Monica, CA|
|Draft:||Nationals #1- 2012 - Out of high school (CA)|
Giolito is one of three in the Top 100 pitchers with a 65 or 70 grade fastball. He has a heavy 91-100 mph FASTBALL with very good late movement, rating a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, a nasty 83-86 mph 12-to-6 power CURVEBALL with sharp, late depth and vicious bite, making it a 70 on the 20-80 scout scale. Hitters shake their heads when they first see it, as if to say, "That's not fair." And Lucas has a plus 82-84 mph CHANGEUP that dips like a splitter for a 55 grade. It has good sinking action, and he can throw it for strikes or use it as a swing-and-miss pitch
His heater has real good angle and is at its best when he "slows" it to between 95-97 mph. It rates as a true 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he does it with minimal effort. Nationals pitching coordinator Spin Williams has called his curve one of the best curves he’s ever seen when Giolito throws a good one. It has late bite and excellent depth, projecting as a plus-plus pitch (and already a 70) with a chance to be a second 80 offering. His change is presently a 55, but becoming a 60. (Spring, 2016)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 69.9% of the time; Sinker: 1.3% of the time; Change 10.6%; Slider .5%; and his Curve 17.8% of the time.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 55% of the time, his Change 26%; Slider 14.8%; and Curve 4.1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.6 mph, Change 82, Slider 84.9, and Curve 79.8 mph.
Lucas comes at hitters from an exceptional downhill plane. He has an easy delivery with about-average control (a 50 or 55) and pretty good command, when he's keeping his pitches down in the zone.
His delivery is not always in sync, however. He sometimes lands a bit stiff on his front leg, which can inhibit his ability to locate at the bottom of the strike zone.
He is a big righthander who has drawn more than one Doc Halladay comparison, when everything is clicking for Giolito.
Giolito has impressive mound presence, an advanced feel for pitching and is a tenacious competitor. Obviously the physical appearance is big league He’s still very green, but when he’s on that mound, he looks a bit older.
Lucas should become a #1 or #2 starter. His repertoire is electrifying. He just needs to continue making quality starts.
Giolito is following basically the same Tommy John recovery program that Washington used for Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, and he met and received advice from both. Giolito found his "comfort zone" at a lower velocity, then reached back for more when needed.
He also worked hard to improve his offspeed stuff, increasing his command of both the curveball and changeup, as well as his comfort throwing them in any count. Toward the end of the year he focused more on the change, which scouts currently rank as his third-best pitch. (9/25/14)
In 2015, Giolito was named by MLB.com as the best pitching prospect in the Nationals' organization.
Why was Lucas walking so many guys?
One scout who’s seen Giolito multiple times this year thought most of the right-hander’s were due to in part to issues with mechanics and partly mental.
“When there’s a guy on first base, it’s like he’s preoccupied with that guy,” the scout said. “He’s inside his head too much. He’s trying to live up to the hype and the expectations. We’re still talking about a special kid, though.
“He’s getting too precise. He’s trying to be too perfect. He should just go out and throw with his best stuff. He probably should be in Syracuse, but I’m not concerned.”
Those issues still pop up every now and then, but Giolito has gotten better at getting back into his delivery when it goes awry and resetting himself mentally to limit any damage. One manager in the EL who has had multiple looks at him over the past two seasons said Giolito’s advancement in that area has been noticeable.
“The one thing I look at is how he reacts when he gives up a hit or a walk, or a play isn’t made behind him, or he’s behind in the count,” the manager said. “Before, you could see that frustration build, and he’d get mad at himself for not executing a pitch or not executing his delivery.
“Now, you see him get the ball, get back on the mound and get back right into the zone. (His delivery) still can get a little squirrely on him sometimes, but he’s getting back to it much sooner—within a count, within a batter or two. In the past, I’ve seen it unravel for four, five, six batters—or even a couple innings.” (Josh Norris - Baseball America - 7/01/2016)
Lucas still needs to become more consistent when it comes to repeating his delivery, and his changeup needs a touch more polish before it’s ready for prime time. He tends to pitch behind in counts. He has got to find the strike zone more frequently. (Spring, 2017)
Lucas got to work with the extremely knowledgeable Pitching Coach, Don Cooper of the White Sox.
“I didn’t pitch well last year (2016) at all, especially at the big league level. So it was a huge learning experience—kind of how to deal with failure, how to pick back up after that.”
Giolito said his physicality was actually a hinderance in 2016, especially when it came to throwing his fastball, against which big league batters hit .349 and slugged .730.
“I was struggling with mechanics throughout most of the course of the year,” he said. “I’m a big guy. Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe that I let too much get out of whack.
“So this year, with my training program I’ve been lifting in the offseason and doing Pilates and everything. I’m trying to make sure I can stay as athletic as possible, so I’m able to keep the right delivery more often.” (Scot Gregor - Baseball America - 3/10/2017)
Some talent evaluators point to Giolito’s lack of deception and inconsistent release point as obstacles that need to be overcome. They say is stuff is too "vanilla."
"He looks like a player who’s thinking and feeling his way through the game rather than letting his natural ability play.," one American League personnel guy said in April, 2017.
At 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, he’s working through some mechanical issues that are exacerbated by all those moving parts.
In 2017 he seemingly lost about 2 or 3 mph on his heater. But it us his command that is getting the focus.
“Velocity is not his main concern,” Charlotte pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “He knows he has to make improvements on throwing his curveball for strikes, he’s getting better with his changeup and we added (a slider), so he’s making strides. Sometimes it doesn’t look great, but so far I like what I’m seeing and the direction he’s going.”
Giolito has worked with White Sox coaches extensively on locating his fastball since coming over in the blockbuster Adam Eaton trade last winter, seeing that as the key to success.
“We’re just working on the finish and the direction (of his delivery), basic things like that,” McCatty said. “Get him comfortable with himself and trusting himself and letting him go out there.”
Added Giolito: “My main thing is just using my legs better when I’m pitching I want to be able to drive off the mound and kind of drive the ball home as opposed to flying open, which is what I’m doing a lot.
“I’m doing a lot of towel drills to make sure that I’m using my legs to drive forward and then stay on line to throw downhill with good plane. There’s a lot of work to be done, definitely.”
One scout did not rate Lucas very high, telling Baseball America: "I think he’s got to go to the bullpen and air it out. I don’t think he has the feel to start. On a certain day and a certain inning, he’ll show you plus-plus stuff across the board, but to do everything for a five-six inning stretch is a reach.
“When you’re that big, it’s so hard to get everything in order and do it over and over. You find very few who can do that over and over. Pitchers who can do that have to be simple.”
Not all scouts are ready to rule out Giolito starting.
Another told BA: “I actually see enough I’d leave him starting. You see three plus pitches at times, and I think the command is fixable. Having a guy like (6-foot-7 Charlotte rotation-mate) Mike Pelfrey here will help him. Help him understand how to pitch with those long limbs. He’s been a sexy name for so long that people’s expectations are unrealistic. But this was my first time seeing him, so I came in (with) open eyes. I do think he can start, but it’ll take work.” (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America - 5/12/2017)
May 25, 2017: Lucas fired a seven-inning no-hitter in Game 1 of Triple-A Charlotte's doubleheader against Syracuse. Giolito issued three walks and struck out three in his gem, which also marked the longest outing in nine starts for him. He recorded eight ground-ball outs and five flyouts, with 50 of his 87 pitches going for strikes in the outing.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 49.3% of the time; Sinker 10.5% of the time; Change 16.1%; Slider 12.6%; and Curve 11.5% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 39.5% of the time, his Sinker 20%; Change 15.3%; Slider 15.1%; and Curve 10.1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93 mph, Sinker 92.8, Change 82.3, Slider 84.3, and Curve 79.1 mph.
2019 Improvements: Lucas Giolito wants to work on pitching out of the stretch. “Out of the windup, I felt like I was really over my back side, driving forward, using my legs. The timing was pretty good,” the pitcher said. “Throwing a lot of strikes, throwing strikes with the fastball, especially. Out of the stretch, felt like the timing was a bit off. Arm coming out, a little late, first movement being forward instead of the back leg.”
Last season, Giolito led the American League with 90 walks and gave up more earned runs (118) than any other pitcher. He also had a 6.13 ERA -- the highest among 57 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. An improved delivery from the stretch, along with other improvements, could result in a more consistent season in 2019. (Jesse Sanchez - MLB.com - Feb. 28, 2019)
May 7, 2019: Lucas Giolito threw only four breaking balls among his 105 pitches during the 2-0 White Sox victory over the Indians at Progressive Field, marking the team’s first shutout since Sept. 15, 2018, at Baltimore. According to Statcast, the right-hander used three curves and one slider without getting a swinging strike on any of them. But with his fastball command among his 67 thrown proving to be exceptional and topping out at 95.9 mph, and his changeup serving as the night’s perfect out pitch amid his 34 thrown, Giolito didn’t need much else.
“Mac [Catcher James McCann] and I early, we kind of found the changeup was keeping them off balance. They weren’t adjusting to it,” said Giolito, who improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three road starts this season. “So, we just stuck with that. The second curveball I threw got hit hard, that was the double down the line [from Jason Kipnis leading off the fourth].
“I was like, ‘Why mess around? Let’s go after them with heaters and changeups off of that’ and it worked out well. The changeup, I had good feel for it. I had good break. Good velocity difference from my heater and so we just rode that out.”
“Starting pitchers as a whole, we have not done a great job up until this point,” Giolito said. “But the biggest thing for me is getting deeper in the games and being the starting pitcher I know I can be. I can get into the seventh or eighth. Looking to throw a [complete game] at some point soon. So, yeah, just it’s all about getting into a good rhythm, finding what works and riding it out.” (S Merkin - MLB.com - May 7, 2019)
Giolito on how he developed his changeup: “I first tried to throw a changeup in high school, and it didn’t work. It was just a BP fastball. Tommy John surgery … I came back from Tommy John surgery (in 2013), and you know how it is with TJ; it’s very, very regimented. You start at 30-40 feet and go from there.
“I started playing catch with a changeup grip. I would alternate between fastball-changeup, fastball-changeup. That was to get the feel for throwing one, and for maintaining arm speed when I did. I think playing catch with your changeup is super important for that. Of course, being in my TJ recovery, I was basically trying to regain the feel for the baseball in general. At the same time, I injected the changeup right into that.
“I worked on finding the right grip. It was always a circle change for me — that’s what’s most comfortable — and it was always between a four-seam and a two-seam. I would kind of go back and forth. And then last year … here’s another story. Last year, I had to be in the bullpen for emergency relief. Our last turn in the rotation, none of our starters got deep, so on my bullpen day, instead of throwing a bullpen, I was in the bullpen, just in case the game got out of hand.
“I’m not used to being in the bullpen, so I was super bored. I was just hanging out. Then I figured I should do something productive, so I picked up a baseball and started messing around with grips. I was nice-and-easy throwing the ball off the wall. I was playing catch with myself. And I was really focusing on my four-seam changeup versus my two-seam changeup, because at that point I was throwing both, and both were inconsistent.“Through that process — just throwing the ball against the wall, over and over — I was like, ‘You know what? If I hold my two-seam changeup like this, it feels pretty good.’ It was also coming out consistent. That’s when I kind of cemented in the, ‘OK, two-seam circle change; that’s my pitch.’
“The big velo difference [14 mph slower than his fastball] has been there since the get-go. I think it’s just because I have big hands and long fingers, and have the ball deep in my hand. Just recently … we have those slo-mo cameras now, the Edgertronics, and I was looking at my pitches. If you see my changeup release, when the ball is coming out of my hand it’s like I’m pushing it with my middle finger and my ring finger. It comes off those two fingers last — my middle finger very last, off the inside part. I don’t feel it when I’m throwing — I’m just trying to throw it like a fastball — but it comes all the way off my fingers, and at the very end gets pushed off my middle finger. I think that takes away spin, and helps create the big speed differential.” (David Laurila -Fangraphs - July 2019)
Aug 27, 2019: The nine strikeouts pushed Giolito to 203 strikeouts for the 2019 season, making him the first White Sox right-hander to reach 200 since Javier Vazquez did so in 2007-08. He owns an 11.59 strikeouts per nine innings, which rates as the second-highest single-season mark in franchise history behind Chris Sale (11.82 in 2015).
His 203 strikeouts have come against 54 walks over 157 2/3 innings, marking a noticeable decline from his AL leading 90 free passes issued in 2018.
In January 2019, Lucas called his best friend and current Braves starter Max Fried for help. The former Harvard-Westlake High School teammates spent the offseason working out in Los Angeles. The duo trained in local facilities and played catch in parks. Giolito worked to routinely fix several aspects of his delivery. He used plyo balls and a core velocity belt in his training to sync his lower half and get more balanced on the mound.
“I did towel drills, dry drills and gym work with wearing [the core velocity belt] sometimes," Giolito said. "It kind of gets your hips and legs in the position you want it to be.”
A newfound balance helped Giolito focus on his arm slot. He shortened his delivery to mirror that of an infielder.
“The biggest adjustment and one that everyone can see is the arm action,” Giolito said. “I used to be really long, and it was behind my back. Now it’s short and direct, kind of like an infielder.”
Giolito credits his success in 2019 to the revamped delivery. He admitted that he lacked consistency on the mound in 2018.
“I was all over the place last year,” Giolito said. “I would fly open, and my arm would be late. The misses were really big, and I think I led the league in walks.”
Lucas now keeps his arm shorter and almost tucked in closer to his body. He found increased velocity and some level of deception within his repertoire. He considers himself more of a "feel" sort of pitcher when it comes to his game plan. But the righthander uses analytics to tune that game plan. And he got rid of his sinker.
"Looking at the data is what led me to get rid of my sinker in (2019) spring training," Giolito said. "We saw the number from (2018). If I executed my sinker perfectly, it would work. But when I didn't, it got banged -- it got hit really hard. Whereas my four-seamer, if I executed it perfectly, it worked great. If I missed, I still had a better chance at success. Let me get rid of the one that's screwing me over. That's one example of how the data stuff can help drive the game plan."
It wasn't difficult for Giolito to give up the pitch, knowing what he knew.
"I just developed a better feel for my four-seamer," Lucas said. "I'm commanding it better. It keeps things more simple." (Scott Merkin - White Sox Magazine - September, 2019)
Sept. 12, 2019: Giolito set a White Sox record by striking out eight straight Royals, with seven being swinging strikeouts.
Sept 17, 2019: Less than 24 hours after receiving the shutdown news, though, Giolito still couldn’t completely reflect on what was a spectacular turnaround.
“Kind of, but it’s tough because like in my mind, I had three more starts,” Giolito said. “I wanted to continue to pitch well these last three, hopefully get a 15th win. At the same time, it is what it is. It’s time to put this season to bed, at least my personal season, and move on to focusing on what I can do to improve for next year.
“This year was like the debut of all the stuff that I worked on in the offseason put together. I was still working on stuff in Spring Training. I was still working on stuff in April.
“Now the baseline is there,” Giolito said. “I’m not going into this offseason in October and learning all this new stuff. I’m just going to perfect it. I want to make everything better. I want to get more consistent. I’m excited because I just can’t wait to see all the areas I can improve.”
2019 Season: Giolito finished with a 14-9 record, a 3.41 ERA, three complete games, two shutouts and 228 strikeouts with just 57 walks over 176.2 innings and 29 starts.
Those numbers followed up Giolito’s first full season in the Majors in 2018, where he had the highest ERA among all starters (6.13) and led the AL in walks (90). His breakout effort in 2019 only marks the beginning for him and the rebuilding White Sox.
“It’s not the results we wanted. I thought we could have played better,” said Giolito, examining the 2019 season as a whole. “But [it was] valuable experience for a lot of guys, especially younger guys, guys like me, guys younger than me. And just the team continuing to jell and come together.
“Yeah, I’d say it was a positive year. A lot of good individual years, but now we kind of take all that we learned from the good and the bad and we come out next year ready to go.”
In 2019, Giolito finished 6th in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
What went right?
Giolito’s offseason dedication and thorough work process is more of a life lesson for success than purely a baseball lesson. Basically, if you don’t like what you see, change it.
The 25-year-old did not let his 2018 struggles come close to defining him, knowing he had the ability to reach an elite level, so Giolito revamped not only his mound mechanics but also his mental approach. When things occasionally went sideways on Giolito last season, he usually was able to refocus and limit the damage to one or two runs rather than let it escalate, as too often happened in 2018.
There also was a set work plan for Giolito on every day from one start to the next. He would follow that plan whether it came after a three-hit shutout or the occasional disappointing outing, adjusting slightly later in the year to compensate for his extended workload. Giolito got rid of his sinker after studying data regarding the pitch during Spring Training and placed more of a focus on his four-seamer.
“With the year I had [in 2018], I knew that I was going to be better,” Giolito said. “It can’t get worse than what I posted [then]. I knew that there [were] adjustments that needed to be made and I made those adjustments.
“I’d say I surprised myself at times. I felt like there’s periods of time this year where I kind of got into my groove and I was with my routine perfectly and I was going out there with a lot of confidence. There were times this year where I had struggles, I had developed a bad habit here and there. That’s why I think I can get even better than what I did this year.”
What went wrong?
A left hamstring injury suffered during a start on April 17 against the Royals kept Giolito out of action until May 2. He then missed the final three starts of his season due to a mild lat strain, with the White Sox erring on the side of caution by shutting him down. Giolito also struggled in his starts against the Cubs with 12 runs allowed over 8 innings. That contributed to his 0-3 record with a 7.17 ERA in four Interleague starts.
On May 23, Giolito threw a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and one walk at Houston against the AL champs. On Aug. 21, Giolito threw a three-hit shutout at Target Field against the AL Central champion Twins with 12 strikeouts and no walks. He had allowed four home runs and seven runs in his previous start vs. the Twins on July 25.
This past 2019 season serves as a baseline for Giolito’s future growth. He certainly has the potential to remain a top-of-the-rotation starter, an All-Star and the team’s likely Opening Day hurler in 2020, regardless of who might join the White Sox this offseason through free agency or a trade.(S Merkin - MLB.com - Nov 5, 2019)
Giolito went from having the worst ERA of any qualified starter in 2018 (6.13) to ranking among the American League leaders in '19 -- he finished fifth in the AL ERA race and sixth in the AL Cy Young vote.
Lucas's 180-degree turnaround from 2018 to '19 didn't hinge on just one pitch. The key was the 1-2 punch of elevated fastballs and fading changeups. Giolito totaled 188 strikeouts on those two pitches alone; the only pitcher with more was Gerrit Cole, with 191. Giolito's 365 swings-and-misses with his four-seam/changeup combination were third-most behind Cole and Luis Castillo.
Giolito struck out nearly a third of the batters he faced. His 32.3% strikeout rate was fourth-best among qualified pitchers, and the only three guys ahead of him were Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. If you want to cut that league-worst ERA in half, "strike everybody out" is a good way to do it. How did Giolito strike everybody out? That four-seam/changeup combo wasn't just great, it was a revamped approach.
Giolito, as is the fashion these days, scrapped his two-seamer entirely to focus on the high four-seamer, a prototypical strikeout pitch. And it was heat -- Lucas gained nearly 2 mph of velocity, a huge jump, and started pumping fastballs in the high 90s with regularity. To go along with those higher, faster four-seamers, Giolito upped his changeup usage from under 16% in '18 to over 26% in '19. (Adler - mlb.com - 6/3/2020)
- As of the start of the 2020, Lucas had a career record of: 27-26 with a 4.60 ERA, having allowed 66 home runs and 354 hits in 416 innings.
Lucas does a fair job of holding baserunners on. But sometimes it seems he loses focus with runners on base.
Giolito does a fine job of fielding his position, especially for his size.
- Lucas has made big strides at fielding his position and with holding runners on base.
March 6, 2012: Giolito was one of the top high school draft prospects in the spring of 2012. Then, things went bad when he sprained an elbow ligament—the ulnar collateral ligament, ending his senior season.
Surgery was not required, but 6 to 10 weeks of rest and rehab took up most of the time before the June draft.
August 14, 2012, Giolito was pulled because he experienced soreness in his elbow after throwing two innings in a Gulf Coast League outing.
August 20, 2012: It was announced that Lucas had reinjured his elbow. So he underwent Tommy John surgery on August 31, 2012.
2013: Giolito was rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery most of the season. He was activated July 3, 2013, and pitched for the Gulf Coast League Nationals.
April 17-May 2, 2019: Lucas was put on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.
- September 14-30, 2019: Lucas was diagnosed with a mild right lat dorsi strain and he was shut down by the White Sox for the final two weeks of the season.