Giolito Struggles, Sox Fall to Mariners 9-2
After starting the season with a strong outing in Kansas City, Lucas Giolito looked much more like his old self in yesterday’s 9-2 Sox loss to the Mariners. After a thrilling 10-8 victory in the home opener Friday, a second consecutive 30,000+ crowd was on hand hoping for another victory. With this being my first game attended of the young 2019 season, I was certainly hoping for more than what I saw. But as we’ve all learned over the last few years, White Sox wins are far and few between. With that being said, here are some of my major takeaways from my first in-person game of the season.
Giolito Can’t Keep the Momentum Going
Giolito, who lasted 4.1 innings while surrounding 5 earned runs and 4 walks, certainly played a large role in this loss. He started off strong in the first two innings, before the wheels started to come off in the 3rd and 4th. While he is only one start removed from his incredible season debut in Kansas City, this type of outing is certainly a gut punch to Sox fans hoping he had turned a corner. There was certainly optimism last week, with the arm angle change from last year to this year being attributed to this newfound success.
While pitchers will get hit hard every now and then, the most concerning thing with Giolito’s outing has to be the walks. Issuing 4 in 4.1 is certainly not ideal, let alone for someone who finished second in walks in 2018. It’s a long season, but here’s to hoping he can regain the magic from that first outing next time out on the hill.
The Core Guys Keep Hitting
With the exception of Yoan Moncada, who went 0-5 with 2 K’s, most of the core guys in the Sox lineup yesterday had solid days at the plate. Yes, Daniel Palka is still 0 for the season, Yolmer is hitting .042, and Yonder Alonso is still struggling, but the guys we need to take a step forward this year continue to do so. First off, you had Eloy collecting three hits on the day.
He hasn’t left the yard yet this season, but seeing Eloy starting to hit consistently is a big plus for the early going in 2019. He has struggled somewhat so far this year, but being able to overcome a slow start is certainly a good sign for Eloy.
Next, we had Abreu launching a missile in the 4th to bring the score to 4-1, finally giving Giolito some run support (if you can call one run “support”).
At this point, we know what Abreu is. He’s a key to the offense, so seeing him hit early in the year and overcoming an injury filled down year in 2018 is a good sign.
Finally, we had the bus driver himself, Tim Anderson, continuing his torrid start with a bomb in the 7th.
TA7 has not skipped a beat since returning from paternity leave, as he now is hitting .500 on the year with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s. Hell, he even has a 1.374 OPS, which I hear from the stats people is quite good.
Obviously, Tim isn’t going to hit .500 the whole year, but if this start is any indication, he is going to have a hell of a year. He knocked the cover off the ball in spring training, and has carried that momentum right into the season. Everyone knows Tim is the heartbeat of this team with his energy and fire, so if he can boost his average off last season’s 20-20 year and approach 30-30 in 2019? Watch out for the Sox left side of the infield in that case, him and Yoan are going to be major problems for the league.
The Bullpen *might* Be a Major Problem
Going into the year, I was thought the bullpen would be a strength of this team with the offseason additions of Herrera and Colome at the back end. In reality? Woof.
Yesterday’s performance by Nate Jones, Jose Ruiz, and Manny Banuelos was just pitiful. Ruiz’ outing was a real barnburner, 0.1 IP with 3 ER, raising his 2019 ERA to a cool 81.00. Nate Jones, in not allowing an earned run, saw his ERA fall to a blistering 10.13. Just great numbers you want to see out of your bullpen. Problems like these are only going to accentuate struggles of starting pitching as they come, like Giolito yesterday.
The one bright spot in yesterday’s bullpen was Caleb Frare, who struck out the only batter he faced. So far in the young season, Frare has been lights out, with no ER and 3 K’s in 1.0 IP. If can ascend to a strong arm out of the pen on a contending time (kinda like what we thought we may have in Jace Fry), I’ll take it.
My biggest issue with Frare yesterday had nothing to do with his performance, but with Ricky’s management of the pen. This has been a theme for me throughout this season. You’re losing 7-1 on April the 6th, and you’re managing the game like the World Series. You bring in Frare, he punches out the first batter he faces to stop the bleeding, and you give him the hook to bring in a run of absolute butchers. With the rest of our pen struggling, let Caleb keep going and see what we have there. I get it in September or October, but for a rebuilding team trying to see who may have a future on the South Side. This should be obvious, but I guess not.
This type of management is something that will undoubtedly drive me crazy this season. Luckily next year with the three batter minimum rule in effect, the MLB is going to bail Ricky out from being able to make these decisions.