AP NEWS

Rebuilding White Sox showing some progress

August 27, 2018
Lucas Giolito

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Trivia time: When is the last time the major league leader in ERA had fewer wins than the guy who finished last?

The answer is coming up in a few paragraphs, but the question is relevant because it could happen again this year. Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox, currently bringing up the rear among pitchers who qualify for the ERA title, notched his 10th victory of the season Saturday night, which is two more than major league ERA leader Jacob deGrom has.

DeGrom’s plight has been well documented. Pitching for the woeful Mets, he’s 8-8 with a 1.71 ERA. Giolito is 10-9 with a 5.85 ERA. It’s a stark example of why a pitcher’s won-lost record can be deceiving, but Giolito’s progress is worth watching over the final few weeks of the season. The White Sox are 18-17 since the All-Star break and showing signs that their rebuild is heading in the right direction.

Left-hander Carlos Rodon has a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts this year, and highly touted prospect Michael Kopech is in the majors now — he earned his first career victory Sunday. If Giolito — a first-round draft pick by the Nationals in 2012 — starts performing better, then Chicago’s rotation could look even stronger going forward. Giolito had 63 strikeouts and 60 walks before the All-Star break. Since then, that ratio has improved to 40-to-15.

Meanwhile, down in the minors, the White Sox have one of the game’s top prospects just waiting to be unleashed. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez is hitting .364 for Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the answer to that trivia question: In 1992, Bill Swift of the Giants led the majors with a 2.08 ERA and went 10-4. Scott Sanderson finished with a 4.93 ERA, the highest among qualifying pitchers, but he went 12-11 for the Yankees. In 2004, there was a tie in wins between ERA leader Jake Peavy (15-6, 2.27) and last-place finisher Shawn Estes (15-8, 5.84).

Other developments from around the majors:

LONG WAY BACK

Since divisional play began in 1969, the furthest any team has finished out of first place is 52 games, a mark set by the 1998 Florida Marlins in the NL East. (That was a dreary year for baseball in the Sunshine State. Tampa Bay finished 51 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.)

This season’s Baltimore Orioles could end up a lot worse than that. They’re already 52 ½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, and there’s still plenty of time to sink lower. The Orioles are on pace for 116 losses, and their schedule down the stretch isn’t likely to ease up. Their final 10 games at the end of September are against the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros.

HIGHLIGHT

Jose Altuve turned a routine flare into a double play with a bit of quick thinking Friday night. With a man on first and one out, the Houston second baseman let David Fletcher’s soft popup drop near the edge of the infield, then picked up the ball and threw to first in time to get the batter. Kole Calhoun, the Angels’ runner on first, headed toward second when the ball dropped, but he was still caught in a rundown after the play at first. Calhoun was eventually tagged out.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola struck out nine in eight innings, beating Washington’s Max Scherzer 2-0 in a matchup of National League Cy Young candidates Thursday. Nola allowed five hits and lowered his ERA to 2.13.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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