THE PATH TO SOXCESS: Can Lucas Giolito repeat his first playoff start?

White Sox

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 19: Lucas Giolito #27 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers during the third inning at Globe Life Field on September 19, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – There are a lot of things about 2020 that people hope never repeats themselves, but if you’re a White Sox fan on Friday it’s a little different.

If Lucas Giolito could duplicate his start for the Wild Card Series last year, that would be just fine.

As the White Sox offense found their power in Game 1 against the Athletics on September 29, 2020 in Oakland, Giolito was masterful in his MLB playoffs debut. He threw six perfect innings to start then pitched through the seventh, allowing just a run on two hits in a 4-1 victory.

Unfortunately, the Athletics won the next two games at home, denying Giolito a chance to start a second game in that postseason.

That chance will come on Friday as the White Sox face the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

“I’m definitely not as nervous as I was last year. The nerves kind of ended up working in my favor, kept me focused. But having experience in anything is going to make you more prepared for the next time you do it,” said Giolito of getting his first playoff start out of the way in 2020. “That was a good one. I’m looking forward to having another good one tomorrow.”

His team could use it after a difficult opener on Thursday in Houston where the Astros got to Lance Lynn for five and the offense was quiet in a 6-1 defeat. Giolito had a little better luck against Houston in his one outing against them this season at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 17th, pitching a complete game while allowing just three hits and a run in a 10-1 victory.

The starter has also pitched well at Minute Maid Park in his career, posting a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings of work over three starts with 15 strikeouts compared to five walks. That included a completed game shutout of the Astros on May 23, 2019.

“Yeah, I can draw from experience. I like this ballpark. I like this mound. But at the same time, every single game’s different,” said Giolito of pitching in Houston. “So a pitcher can go out there with good stuff, bad stuff, somewhere in between.”

Over the last two months, Giolito has improved after pitching inconsistently in the first four months of the season. In his last nine starts, the pitcher is 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA with 56 strikeouts compared to 13 walks.

“I think that in the first half there were just times that I wasn’t really in sync mechanically, focus-wise. I let some starts just get away from me early,” said Giolito. “During the All-Star break, I really took some time to kind of refresh, and then I came back a lot more focused, a lot more focused on each and every start, my preparation.”

Hopefully, that can lead to a repeat of fortune from 2020, which is not something you heard said often.

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