After a tough start to the season, Chicago White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito is starting to feel much better on the mound.
That's good news for the White Sox as they look to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The teams will meet for the second game of a three-game series after Toronto claimed the series opener 10-5.
Giolito (7-8, 6.09 ERA) will take the mound for his 21st start of the season. He will go for his fourth consecutive quality start after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.29 ERA in his past three outings.
"I've done a much better job of making adjustments pitch to pitch as opposed to earlier in the year, where I was kind of struggling and trying to find things throughout my outing," he said. "I'm commanding the fastball better. My changeup feels a lot better coming out of my hand, so that's another pitch that's kind of a go-to. The breaking stuff, too.
"Everything feels better. The direction is right, it's more in line, so I'm able to execute more pitches."
Chicago (36-67) is focused on a long-term rebuild, but a good second half from Giolito could offer great promise for the future. The Sox have allowed at least 10 runs in three straight games and could use a quality start to rest a beleaguered bullpen.
Toronto (47-55) also has endured a disappointing season but is 4-3 since the All-Star break. The Blue Jays slugged a season-high five home runs in the series opener, including two by red-hot shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Gurriel has nine consecutive multi-hit games, which is tied for the franchise record with Tony Fernandez (1986). During his outburst, Gurriel is hitting .500 (20-for-40) with three doubles, three home runs and five RBIs.
The Blue Jays have not named a starter for Saturday's contest and expect to make it a bullpen day. The team's depth in the starting rotation has been diminished after it shipped J.A. Happ to the New York Yankees in exchange for prospects.
Toronto added right-hander Oliver Drake to its 25-man roster, and he could make his team debut on Saturday. The 31-year-old has a 5-6 record with a 4.84 ERA in 114 career relief appearances with the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians.
Any pitcher who takes the mound for the Blue Jays will have to be mindful of White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who is carrying a six-game hitting streak. Abreu is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with a double, three home runs and seven RBIs during the streak.
Giolito is eager to maintain and build upon his recent success.
"I always have confidence in myself and my ability, but once you start to see those results, all of the stuff you're working on paying off, that's when you start to kick it into another gear," Giolito said. "You feel extra confident out there. You feel like you can execute any pitch in any situation. I'm doing a much better job of that."