Everything was set up for Lucas Giolito. A breakout 2019 campaign in which he was named an All-Star for the first time was followed by 2020 in which he finished seventh in the AL Cy Young voting.
With the White Sox adding a few additional bats in 2021 and bolstering their bullpen with the addition of closer Liam Hendricks, Giolito’s case for Cy Young consideration had serious merit.
Oddsmakers agreed. The 26-year-old Giolito entered the 2021 season with +450 odds to win the AL Cy Young at DraftKings sportsbook, trailing only New York’s Gerrit Cole (+330) and Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (+330), who won the Cy Young in 2020.
But while Cole and Bieber have held up their end — Cole has a 2.03 ERA in nine starts and Bieber leads baseball with 92 strikeouts — Giolito has struggled mightily in May and has seen his odds plummet to +1500 behind a handful of other starters.
Giolito’s Fast Start Short-Lived
Through three starts in 2021, Giolito looked like his normal self. The Sox ace was 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA that included 26 strikeouts to five walks and just one home run allowed in 17.2 innings.
But a trip to Fenway Park on April 19 saw Giolito allow seven earned runs on eight hits in one inning in an eventual 11-4 loss to the Red Sox. It was the shortest outing of his career and just the second time in 87 starts that he failed to record a strikeout.
Giolito took a second straight loss the following week at home against the Detroit Tigers, when he allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 5-2 defeat.
He bounced back by allowing just one earned run in each of his next two starts but couldn’t get past the sixth inning in either start. The ace then had a third blowup start on May 14, allowing five earned runs in six innings in a 6-2 loss to the Royals.
After his strong start, Giolito is now 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA over his last five starts. To date, he has allowed eight home runs in 41 2/3 innings, the same number he allowed in 72 1/3 innings a season ago. In the process, his Cy Young odds have gone from +450 to +3000 on DraftKings as the season nears the quarter-point.
Cole, Bieber Leading The Way
There’s certainly a chance for Giolito to turn his season around, and his track record suggests he’ll return to form sooner than later. The problem, as far as his Cy Young odds are concerned, is that Cole and Bieber have been lights out to begin 2021.
Cole has seen his odds shorten to just +125 because of his 5-2 start that includes a 2.03 ERA and a league-best 0.78 WHIP. Cole has double-digit strikeouts in five of his nine starts and has walked just five batters.
Bieber is doing his best to make the AL Cy Young a two-man race, compiling a 4-3 record with a 3.17 ERA and 92 strikeouts, though his odds — likely because of Cole’s dominance — have lengthened to +425.
Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow has seen a bump in his Cy Young odds, with the young righthander is 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 85 strikeouts. His odds have jumped from +1100 to +500.
Looking for a sleeper? Giolito’s White Sox teammate Carlos Rodón sits at +1100 to win AL Cy Young after his incredible start to the season that included a no-hitter against the Indians as part of a 5-1 record and 1.47 ERA. It’ll be tough for anyone to catch Cole, but Rodón may be the most likely White Sox starter to have a chance.