Lucas Giolito got the “click” he was looking for on Thursday night and it resulted in a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Charlotte.
Currently the No. 2-rated White Sox prospect, Giolito has struggled so far this season at Charlotte. He’s 2-5 with a 5.44 ERA in nine starts in 46 1/3 innings.
While he’s struck out 43 hitters, Giolito has also walked 25. But it all came together for the tall right-hander on Thursday when he threw an 87-pitch no-no against the Syracuse Chiefs.
“It was special,” Giolito said on a conference call on Friday. “Just the way the year has gone, it didn't start the way I wanted it to, the numbers haven't been great. So it's great to have a no-hitter under my belt, my first professional one. Just take that and work from there. I'm just going to keep working on the things I've been working on the past few weeks and hopefully string a few good ones together.”
Rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors before the 2016 season, Giolito’s profile has slipped some because of performance. The top name included from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, Giolito has struggled with command of his offspeed pitches and fastball at times. Earlier this month, Giolito described his performance as “atrocious,” while remaining optimistic that his fortunes could change just like clicking on a light switch.
Giolito said he felt confident on the mound Thursday and it translated.
“I did a lot better job of keeping the fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate,” Giolito said. “I was able to get the ball inside to lefties pretty well, maybe got a few jam shots some pop outs here and there and then I had my two-seamer working as well. It was just a pretty solid day as far as throwing the fastball.”
Pleased as he is, Giolito is striving to be better. He pointed at his three walks as an area he’d like to improve upon. But he’s also happy with how it all worked on Thursday.
“There's always still work to do,” Giolito said. “I walked three batters and that is not something I want to be doing. The walk numbers are a little too high for my liking. There's still plenty to work on, but everything felt pretty solid last night. I felt like I repeated my delivery well, I executed more pitches. Especially when I'd fall behind in the count I'd execute quality pitches and you can get yourself out of bad situations doing that.”
The Knights made two roster moves on Friday -- Yoan Moncada was activated off the seven-day disabled list and Ryan Raburn was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash or a player to be named later.
Dylan Covey is already the sixth White Sox pitcher to be placed on the 10-day disabled list this season. The club announced Friday that Covey is headed to the DL just as one of the pitchers already there, James Shields, took another step forward in his rehab.
Shields threw his second bullpen in three days on Friday and hopes to begin a minor-league rehab assignment after he throws a three-inning, game-situation-like bullpen on Monday.
The White Sox promoted reliever Juan Minaya to take Covey’s spot on the 25-man roster. They also announced Tyler Danish would be the 26th man for Saturday’s doubleheader and manager Rick Renteria said Covey’s scheduled start Monday would be filled internally. Reliever David Holmberg could make the start.
“I’m full bore,” Shields said. “Everything is working really well and everything feels good. Ready to rock and roll.
“It’s been pretty tough for me. I’m pretty anxious. I want to be out there and help my team win. But at the end of the day I have to stick to the process. You know the team was really doing good up until this last road trip. Now we need to pick it back up. I’m looking forward to coming back and helping the squad out.”
Covey isn’t surprised he landed on the DL.
He missed much of the 2016 season with a left oblique strain and knew exactly what he was experiencing when he felt the tug on Tuesday. But Covey remembers the early portion of last year’s injury and thinks he’s in better shape now.
“Well, my first thought was, ‘Oh, no. I did it again,’” Covey said. “It’s kind of looking like it might not be nearly as bad as it was last year. So I’m staying optimistic and taking it day by day.”
“I think if I tried to push it another pitch like I did last year, it could have maybe worsened the situation. So I’m glad I was able to hold back a little bit.”
Minaya -- who pitched in 11 games for the 2016 White Sox -- missed roughly five weeks with an abdominal tear. Though he wanted to race back (he struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings this spring), Minaya knew he had to be practical about his rehab. Once healthy, Minaya pitched well at Triple-A Charlotte, where he posted a 1.23 ERA in 14 2/3 innings.
“I took a little while but we’re going through the process and we have to be patient and do everything they say to get healthy,” Minaya said. “We have to do the right thing to be healthy.”
“I feel very happy with myself because I’m working to get back here and I see the progress and I feel very happy.”
Minaya gives the White Sox nine relievers on their 13-man staff. That amount would make it much easier for the team to fill Covey’s first turn in the rotation with a bullpen game on Monday. A career starter who only began to pitch in relief this season, Holmberg could give the White Sox several innings to start. While Renteria won’t name any candidates for the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, he did suggest it would be an internal candidate.
“We’ll probably end up filling with one of our own guys,” Renteria said.