When Major League Baseball resumes from the annual All-Star Break over the next couple of days, Chicago White Sox fans should be keeping their eye on the progression of two of their all-stars–pitcher Lucas Giolito and catcher James McCann. Their improvement from last year to this year is extremely noteworthy.
Last season, Giolito was not just bad. He was down right atrocious. Giolito had a record of 10 wins and 13 losses, with a horrible earned run average of 6.13. He also led Major League Baseball with 118 earned runs against and led the American League with 90 walks against. One encouraging statistic was the fact that Giolito gave up fewer hits (166) than innings pitched (173.333), but his high WHIP of 1.48, meant he needed to make significant adjustments of gigantic proportions in order to have an impact for the White Sox for years to come.
Giolito has done just that. According to Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports, he made changes to his mechanics by shortening his arm action. As a result, Giolito has been spectacular. In 17 starts, Giolito has a record of 11 wins, three losses, an earned run average of 3.15, a WHIP of 1.07, and 120 strikeouts compared to only 38 walks. Giolito’s control improvement is staggering.
The acquisition of McCann has paid huge dividends. McCann joined the White Sox after five years in Detroit where he was teammates of notable pitchers Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price. As a catcher, McCann learned a lot about the pitching position and has been able to bring what he learned to the White Sox pitching staff.
McCann has just not been strong for Chicago from a defensive standpoint, he has made significant offensive adjustments too. Last season, he hit a career worst .220 with only eight home runs and 39 runs batted in. So far in 2019, McCann is hitting a career best .316. He already has more home runs (nine) than all of last season. In 231 at bats, McCann also has scored 38 runs, collected 73 hits, 16 doubles, 30 runs batted in, four stolen bases, 18 walks and an on base percentage of .371.
The White Sox have a record of 42 wins and 44 losses and are third in the American League Central. Their is no doubt that Chicago is on the rise, and a lot of that has to do about the improved play of McCann and Giolito.