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Lucas Giolito breaks down how he would pitch against Luis Robert Jr.

Lucas Giolito breaks down how he would pitch against Luis Robert Jr. originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Speaking with the FOX Sports broadcast crew during Saturday’s White Sox game against the Twins, Lucas Giolito participated in a fun exercise when asked how he would sequence and pitch against his teammate, Luis Robert Jr.

“A lot of high fastballs,” Giolito said. “Trying to make a lot of pitches look like strikes that aren’t strikes because Lu(is) has power all through the zone. You can throw him a really good in-zone breaking ball, like to the bottom corner away, and he’ll still go reach out and hit it for a home run.

“I’ve seen that multiple times this year. For him, you’ve gotta move the ball around and make a lot of balls look like strikes so he swings at them.”

That’s a fair approach from Giolito, who’s pitching a relatively solid season backed by a 3.96 ERA and 1.198 WHIP. In 20 starts and 116 innings pitched, Giolito has 122 strikeouts and 39 walks, too. His slider would need to come alive. It’s easy to picture Robert Jr. taking Giolito’s fastball or changeup out of the park.

Robert Jr. is invariably the White Sox’ best hitter this season. He’s hitting .272 this season with 28 home runs and 57 RBIs. He has an OPS of just under .900, too. According to Baseball Savant, Robert’s barrel percentage ranks in the 94th percentile of the league, as well as his maximum exit velocity, which has cracked the top 10 this season.

To Giolito’s point, you want to throw Robert Jr. stuff that breaks out of the zone — and far away from it, too. Robert Jr., as Giolito mentioned, has an elite ability to grab balls that stretch the zone. That’s why it’s vital to pitch him breaking stuff that travels across and out of the zone.

Robert Jr.’s kryptonite is chasing at pitches well out of the zone. His chase rate is one of the worst in the league, sitting at 40.4% this season. His whiff rate, 33.8%, is also at the bottom of the league in comparison. If you can sell him on balls in the dirt, you can probably get him out.

An interesting exercise, indeed. It would be fun to watch Giolito, or any of the White Sox pitchers, for that matter, take on their best hitter. Robert Jr. is having a fantastic year. And despite his weaknesses at the plate, he’s seeing the ball incredibly well this season.

Giolito likes the way he’s performing this year, too.

“I like the way I’m throwing the ball this year. A little bit more consistent than last year,” Giolito said.

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