WASHINGTON — On June 8, 2010, Stephen Strasburg made his major-league debut at Nationals Park before a crowd that was buzzing by the time he finished the night with seven strikeouts in a row.
Nearly six years later another right-hander from California is slated to make his first major-league appearance on the mound for the Washington Nationals.
Washington manager Dusty Baker announced Monday that Lucas Giolito, 21, will be summoned from Double-A Harrisburg to start against the New York Mets on Tuesday in the second game of the series between the two top teams in the National League East. He is considered perhaps the best pitching prospect in all of the minor leagues.
Is Giolito ready for the big stage?
“Well, you don't know if he's ready or not until he gets here and performs, but I liked what we saw down in spring training,” Baker said.
Giolito has made 14 starts this year for Harrisburg of the Eastern League and is 5-3 with an ERA of 3.17 in 71 innings, with 72 strikeouts and 34 walks and 67 hits allowed.
“He's the real deal,” said an American League scout. “I saw him in spring training; he went five innings that day and he was outstanding. Guys in our organization were asking, 'Who is this guy?' I was impressed with how he commanded his pitches that day. He was outstanding.”
Giolito was the 16th overall pick by the Nationals in 2012 out of Harvard Westlake High School in Los Angeles. He is familiar with the limelight as parents Rick Giolito and Lindsay Frost are veteran Hollywood actors.
“We saw him in spring training. He pitched a game against us in spring training,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Obviously a highly touted prospect with a good arm. We have to make him work hard. They must think highly of him if they are bringing him to this series. It should be fun.”
“We figured he gave us the best option to win the game tomorrow,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Monday. “He's our No. 1 prospect. We like the way he's developed. We think he'll do well and give us a chance to win.”
The Mets will send out Matt Harvey, yet another right-hander who drew raves when he came up to The Show. Collins said Harvey will have to give the Mets innings since Noah Syndergaard lasted just three innings Monday in a 11-4 loss and there are concerns that lefty Steven Matz may not be able to start on Wednesday in Washington due to some arm issues.
Harvey lost at Washington on May 24 as he gave up five earned runs and eight hits in five innings.
Harvey beat the Nationals on May 1, 2015, by a score of 4-0 as he did not allow a run and just five hits while striking out three in seven innings.
In his last start he did not get a decision in a 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on June 23 as he gave up two runs in six innings. Harvey is 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in nine road starts this year.
But Harvey could be overshadowed for at least one night but a rookie.
“Lucas has continued to make strides in all phases of the game,” Nationals farm director Mark Scialabba wrote in an email to The Sports Xchange on Monday night. “On any given night he has three well-above-average pitches working for him.”
“Along with his fastball and curveball, which are well documented, his changeup has become a weapon he can use against both left- and right-handed hitters,” he added. “He continues to focus on creating a consistent delivery to improve the command of all three offerings. He's a tremendous student of the game and is striving to become a complete pitcher with the ability to field his position and hold runners well.”