Lucas Giolito Without His Curveball: Still Really, Really Good

When going to see top-tier pitching prospects while they’re still in the minor leagues, you can often expect to see at least one pitch in their repertoire that stands out above all as “that pitch” that “you need to see”. Maybe you saw Gerrit Cole’s routinely ridiculous fastball sit comfortably in the 96-98 MPH range while he was in Double-A. Maybe you got a glimpse of Taijuan Walker’s 92 MPH cutter as he was tearing up the Midwest League. Or perhaps you were #blessed by the presence of Kevin Gausman’s particularly obscene change-up. This year, the pitch that has received high praise from both real scouts and Twitter-scouts alike, is Lucas Giolito’s curveball. Often referred to as “the greatest breaking ball in the history of modern civilization”, Giolito’s hammer of a curve has earned rave reviews all year long. I saw Giolito pitch in mid-June at home against Greenville, and the curve was all that it had been hyped up to be. Low-A hitters had essentially no chance to square it up, let alone make contact at all. In that June outing, Giolito relied heavily on getting ahead in the count with fastballs low in the zone, and utilized the curve as his failproof out pitch whenever he needed it. His third pitch, a developing change-up, was used sparingly and clearly needed some work. Last night, I saw Lucas Giolito pitch for the second time this year. He allowed two hits through five shutout innings while walking two and striking out six Delmarva hitters. He did not throw a single curveball.

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