Washington Nationals pitcher Lucas Giolito should be called upon to take the mound on Sunday afternoon against the Padres.
The Washington Nationals‘ top prospect according to many including Baseball America, Lucas Giolito was dominant on Tuesday night in his first Triple-A appearance. The 22-year-old came away from the game giving up no earned runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out seven in 6.2 innings pitched. This was Giolito’s first Triple-A start, though he has made two starts in the majors this year, making him a unique case. Regardless, this outing was a great sign for the righty going forward.
The first-rounder taken at No. 16 overall in the 2012 draft has been a highly touted prospect ever since entering the league. Giolito possesses a fastball that is consistently at 95+ mph, and a curve rated 60/70 by Fangraphs to complement his devastating change. This has made him a prospect surrounded by much hype, and while most scouts and experts feel it is warranted, there remain some who are more skeptical. With performances like what he had on Tuesday, and when he gets another opportunity to make his next big league start, Giolito will look to quite any doubters.
It also seems as if an opportunity is presenting itself for Giolito. Reynaldo Lopez, the Nats’ fifth rated prospect got smacked around to the tune of 10 earned runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, and Joe Ross is slated to make a rehab assignment as he makes his way back from injury, leaving the Nationals’ projected starter for Sunday’s game in limbo.
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Washington is scheduled to take on San Diego and their 29-year-old lefty Christian Friedrich at 1:35 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Friedrich has had his struggles this season, possessing a 4-6 record, and giving up four or more runs in five out of his last six starts. The Padres have also had difficulty creating offense in recent games, and really the entire season, ranking 17th in the league in runs scored, and in the 20s in almost every other offensive category.
With Sunday’s starter still undecided and no real alternative present, it seems clear the Nats would be best served turning again to Giolito. In his first two starts in the majors, Giolito hasn’t pitched past the fourth inning, getting robbed by rain in his debut after four innings and pulled in 3.2 after giving up four earned runs on two homers in his second.
Both of those starts also came against the New York Mets, a team that made it to the World Series last season. Though they haven’t been as dominant this year, they still are far more imposing than the likes of San Diego. Not to mention, Giolito for the most part looked right at home against the Mets, minus some expected rookie mistakes. And now, with those two games under his belt, as limited as they were, and a successful start in Triple-A, he could get his first real chance to impress at the major league level.
Sunday is the perfect opportunity for the Nationals organization to get another look at their future stud, and for Giolito to get his first fair shot at the majors. And, if all goes well, the Nats may have to look at making more opportunities down the final stretch of the season for Giolito, as other starters like Gio Gonzalez continue to struggle.