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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Lucas Giolito

How soon we forget

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Detroit Tigers Brian Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

fWAR: 1.8
bWAR: 0.4
WARP: 1.1

He should stay Bad as the results were, this was not a repeat of the 2018 “Worst Pitcher In Baseball Lucas Giolito” days. Advanced statistics suggested Giolito’s results should have been better, as his xERA, FIP, and xFIP were all well below his actual ERA. Getting BABIPed to the tune of .340 despite never being higher than .273 any previous year also points to external factors (like one of the league’s worst defenses, perhaps?) playing a role in his struggles. He still made 30 starts and pitched more than 160 innings, which is not easy to replace, even from a bad pitcher.

He should go Entering his final arbitration years with three seasons in which he garnered CYA votes under his belt, Giolito is probably going to enter eight-figure salary territory, which makes him an expensive proposition if the team is slashing payroll. He’s lost a tick-and-a-half off of his fastball from his 2019-21 peak, and it seemed to get worse as the season wore on. This has resulted in a much lower strikeout rate that what Giolito had produced during his years as the staff ace. Contract negotiations got ugly last offseason, and lingering hard feelings may be best to part with.

The verdict Unless Lucas just completely hates the front office, I don’t see how they can afford to part with him. There aren’t a lot of pitchers with his sort of results and upside who can be found on the open market for 1 year/$10-12 million, and with the team so short of starting pitchers its Triple-A team was bullpenning two-thirds of its games, letting Giolito walk would leave them even more terribly short-handed. A trade could be considered, but other teams probably will value him as a make-good asset, meaning the return is probably not going to make up for what the White Sox lose.

It was a bad season for a lot more players than just Lucas Giolito, and the team should be looking for a lot of their ultra-talented players to rebound to previous norms. A normal offseason and concrete goals should help Giolito focus on returning to form, with the added motivation of this being his walk year before he enters free agency. If he’s thinking nine figures (and why wouldn’t he be?), he’s gonna be out to show he’s still a frontline starter.