The biggest question mark this season for the White Sox is the pitching staff. The spring training games thus far have done little to answer any questions about who will be eating innings for the White Sox this summer. Lucas Giolito is not a question mark however. The questions surrounding Giolito are not whether he will make the team, but rather what impact he will have this year and moving forward. If Saturday’s game against the Cubs is any indication, it will be substantial.
Making his second start of the spring, Giolito was in control from the very beginning. Facing a lineup full of Cubs regulars, Giolito made an impression early, striking out the side in the first inning. The three strikeouts, highlighted by the same explosive curveball that had Giolito as the top pitching prospect in baseball at one time, kept Cubs hitters off balance all day. Giolito was able to command his pitches, and as a result was able to do whatever he wanted on the day. Giolito finished the day with four innings pitched, and a dominating eight strikeouts. Again, this is coming against the lineup that is expected to be a World Series contender this year.
Nate Jones, who Pitching Coach Don Cooper declared to be “back” during an interview conducted today, also had a nice day. Coming in in the eighth inning, the oft-injured reliever set the Cubs down in order, and appeared to have good movement and control on his pitches. If he can carry that into the regular season he will be a welcome addition to a thin bullpen.
Aside from pitching depth or lack there of, another unfortunate theme of the White Sox spring has been injuries to top prospects. This spring has already seen Jake Burger tear his Achilles, Eloy Jimenez miss time with knee tendinitis, Alec Hansen be sidelined by forearm pain, and most recently Luis Robert get shelved for ten weeks with a thumb sprain.
Today was a different story. Eloy Jimenez, who will be making his first start of the spring on Sunday versus the Diamondbacks, was ready to play today, but as the Sox have done all spring, they continued to exercise caution. Renteria finally gave into his pleas to play against his former organization, as Eloy was granted an at bat in the eighth inning. He responded by turning an 0-2 hanging slider into an opposite field home run that set White Sox Twitter ablaze. Eloy Jimenez joins Luis Robert and Michael Kopech as the prospects that will not break camp with the Sox but have left an indelible impression.
Eloy Jimenez going deep!! First of many HRs to come in a White Sox uniform. I love Quintana, but thanks Cubs. WGN-TV. pic.twitter.com/EoX9AGSfBM
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 10, 2018
While the Jimenez home run put the Sox ahead, it did not last long. Rob Scahill surrendered a home run in the ninth inning that tied the game, and that is how the game ended. Despite the disappointing ending, it was still a day to remember for Sox fans, as it once again provided a brief glimpse into just how bright the future is for this young White Sox team.