|White Sox, Angels go with young starters|
Lucas Giolito is beginning to pitch the way many envisioned when he was a hard-throwing teenager from southern California.
The Chicago White Sox 24-year-old right-hander should have extra incentive to perform well Monday night in the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels (50-50). He'll be pitching near his hometown for the first time as a major leaguer.
Giolito (6-8, 6.18 ERA) still has a long way to go to bring his statistics closer to the norm for the White Sox (34-64), but he has two quality starts to build off.
He shut out the visiting Kansas City Royals on two hits for 6 1/3 innings on July 15 and the White Sox won 10-1. A week earlier, he limited the Houston Astros to two runs and three hits in 7 1/3 innings but didn't benefit from nearly as much offensive support in the 2-1 loss.
One area of improvement for Giolito has been his control. After walking four or more batters in six of his first 14 starts, he has stayed below that number in his past three outings.
"It was pretty crazy," Giolito told the Chicago Tribune after his last start. "To be walking that many batters and not doing a good job of putting my team in winning positions, it definitely weighed on me. But throughout the whole process, working with (pitching coach Don Cooper) and things like that, it was all about just maintaining my confidence. ... I'm just looking forward to the second half now."
Giolito, who's 3-2 with a 4.61 ERA in his past eight starts, was one of the top high school prospects in the nation at the start of his senior year at Harvard-Westlake High School in west Los Angeles, routinely hitting 100 mph on the radar.
He sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow early in the season, however, and that scaled back interest from a number of teams. The Washington Nationals took a chance on Giolito and drafted him 14th overall, then inked him to a $2.925 million signing bonus.
The Nationals knew he'd possibly need Tommy John surgery and that became a reality later that summer when a second opinion confirmed he'd need the popular elbow reconstruction surgery.
Giolito will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Jaime Barria, who was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday.
Barria (5-6, 3.55) got off to a strong start in the majors, owning a 5-1 record and 2.48 ERA after beating the Texas Rangers on June 1, but he's 0-5 since.
Barria hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in his past four starts but hasn't pitched out of the sixth inning either.
He has been hurt by a lack of run support in recent games as well. The Angels have combined for 17 runs in his past seven starts.
"It's part of the game," Barria told MLB.com after his last start. "Sometimes you hit, (sometimes) you don't."
Barr'a has never faced the White Sox in his major league career.