White Sox ace Lucas Giolito not official yet, but Opening Day start likely

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Vinnie Duber
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Opening Day start likely for Sox ace Lucas Giolito originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Will Lucas Giolito make his second straight Opening Day start for the White Sox?

Tony La Russa's not ready to go there quite yet. At least, he's not ready to say anything publicly.

"Never too early to ask. It'd be too early to answer," the White Sox manager said Friday. "It won't be long. But I think speculating is part of the fun of the game. So you can speculate as much as you want. We'll make it official pretty soon."

So let's speculate, shall we?

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Giolito will be the White Sox starting pitcher on Opening Day.

La Russa's set up his rotation pretty clearly during the Cactus League schedule, and Giolito's already made three spring starts, doing so on the regular five days of rest each time. If he keeps the same rotation, Giolito's lined up to pitch April 1 against the Los Angeles Angels, the White Sox first game of the regular season.

Giolito, of course, got the Opening Day nod a season ago, tabbed to face the Minnesota Twins when the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign finally got underway in late July. After an All-Star season in 2019, he was a no-brainer of a choice. But he was still honored by the selection.

"It was a huge honor. To earn that job after one good season, I was very, very appreciative," he said after his outing Friday. "Unfortunately, that Opening Day start didn't go my way, but I definitely learned a lot from that, making sure I'm much more well prepared going into that.

"We'll see, when the announcement's made, how it shakes out."

Giolito has looked ready for regular-season action in all three of his spring starts to date, allowing just one run on three hits in nine innings of work. He's struck out 11 opposing hitters.

It's business as usual for the ace of the South Side staff, who wowed in 2020 with a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates and by taking a perfect-game bid into the seventh inning of a playoff game against the Oakland Athletics.

The White Sox have a trio of aces in their rotation this year, Giolito joined by veterans Dallas Keuchel and Lance Lynn, who would be Opening Day types on plenty of other teams across the league. Indeed, the South Siders will feel good about their chances any time one of those Cy Young caliber arms takes the mound.

But Giolito figures to sit atop that rotation after showing last season that he shines in the big moments.

"Say you have a tough four-game stretch, you get a guy like him, Dallas or Lance, you have this guy coming in the fifth day," White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said. "It doesn’t matter what happened recently, 'I’m going to win this game.'

"You need the stopper who can swing that momentum back your way."

A stopper can also be a tone-setter. And that's the kind of guy that gets the Opening Day start.

So come Opening Day, yeah, it makes sense to expect Giolito to be on the bump for the White Sox as they begin a season with World Series expectations.

"I want the ball. I want to go deep. That's what I'm all about," he said. "It would be great if I get that opportunity."

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