CHICAGO – If you had walked up to someone last season and showed them the American League All-Star roster, then you saw Lucas Giolito along with James McCann, surprised wouldn’t be the right word.
It would be shocking. Maybe stunning would be the world.
Lucas Giolito struggled as much as any starter in Major League Baseball in 2018. James McCann registered a negative WAR during his year with the Tigers. See marked improvement would have been encouraging for the White Sox in 2019, let along being one of the best at their position in baseball.
That what makes the selection of starting pitcher Giolito and catcher McCann all the more amazing, for both players have made complete turns in their game in the first three months of the season. Each player was rewarded for his efforts with a first selection to the American League All-Star team, as the pair joins Jose Abreu on the squad.
“It’s been a dream of mine to be an MLB All-Star ever since I was a little kid, and now it’s happening,” said Giolito of the honor. “It’s probably going to take a couple of days for it to sink in for real.”
Like the selection, this year has been a dream for Giolito, who has done a complete reversal from a season in which he was 10-13 with a 6.13 ERA. This year he’s sporting and 11-2 mark with a 2.72 ERA and enjoyed the most dominant month of pitching in this current White Sox era in May.
On his way to being named pitcher of the month, Giolito went 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA, allowing just eight runs in 41 1/3 innings with 46 strikeouts to just ten walks. He’d win nine-straight games before two rougher starts in June before rebounding with five shutout innings in a win over the Twins on Sunday.
His efforts could lead to a start for the American League, but the honor of just being on the roster tops all for the pitcher at the moment.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Giolito. “After the year I had last year, battling back, figuring some things out, and pitching like I know how I can pitch.”
McCann’s turnround is just as surprising and exciting for the White Sox, who picked up a catcher in the offseason who had a -0.5 WAR in hopes of finding some consistency at the spot. He’s delivered more than many would have expected, hitting .319 with nine homers and 28 RBI, all which are approaching career-highs for the sixth-year player.
For a journeyman catcher, the breakthrough in three months in Chicago has been surreal, and it will culminate on July 9th at Progressive Field in Cleveland when he steps on the field as part of the American League roster.
“It’s a dream come true,” said McCann. “You dream as a little boy to play in the big leagues, it’s a dream on another level to be at an All-Star Game. To be able to have that come to reality, it’s a special feeling.”