Thursday, April 18, 2024

Lucas Giolito injury update: Red Sox starter to undergo elbow surgery, per report, timeline unclear

Red Sox starter Lucas Giolito was expected to be in the mix for Opening Day starter with his new team. Instead, he is likely to miss the 2024 season with elbow surgery. Giolito will have surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament on Tuesday, according to The nature of the surgery — an internal brace or full blown Tommy John surgery — won’t be known until the doctor gets into his elbow and sees the damage. Either way, Giolito will miss a significant length of time.

Last week, manager Alex Cora revealed that Giolito is suffering from an elbow injury and, based on Cora’s comments, the injury “does not sound minor,” according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. ESPN’s Jeff Passan originally reported it’s a partially torn UCL and a flexor strain, so the damage is extensive.

Giolito, 29, signed a one-year, $19 million deal with the Red Sox this past offseason. Though the deal has a player option for 2025, the former All-Star was likely viewing it as pillow contract in hopes of rebuilding his value before hitting the open market again. 

In three stops last season — White Sox, Angels, Guardians — Giolito was 8-15 with a 4.88 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 204 strikeouts in 184 1/3 innings. He especially fell apart in the final two months of the season, with a 7.14 ERA in his last 11 starts. 

The elbow has been an issue for Giolito going back to high school. He was expected to be picked toward the top of the draft, if not No. 1, but fell to the Nationals at 16th overall due in part to the balky elbow. He ended up having Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter. 

Giolito went to the White Sox by way of the Adam Eaton trade prior to the 2017 season. His first full year in the rotation, 2018, was a disaster with a 6.13 ERA, but he rebounded with an All-Star season in 2019 and placed in Cy Young voting in three straight seasons (sixth in 2019, seventh in 2020 and 11th in 2021). The 2022 season was a big step back and he fell apart last year. 

This season with the Red Sox was Giolito’s chance to pitch like an ace again. Instead, he’ll be starting behind schedule and there’s concern it’s much worse than that. 

Without Giolito, Nick Pivetta, Kutter Crawford and Brayan Bello are candidates to take the ball on Opening Day for the Red Sox when they open in Seattle. Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell also remain available on the free-agent market.

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