The Nationals will promote right-hander Lucas Giolito to start Tuesday against the Mets, manager Dusty Baker told reporters. Giolito will take the spot of Stephen Strasburg, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with an upper back strain.
Giolito, 21, is currently ranked by MLB.com as the top overall prospect in baseball and was ranked fifth in Baseball America’s preseason ranking of baseball’s top minor-leaguers. He has spent the entire year at Double-A Harrisburg, posting a 3.17 ERA in 14 starts despite struggling to a 4.3 BB/9 in that span.
Giolito was the Nationals’ 1st-round pick (16th overall) in 2012, though he underwent Tommy John surgery immediately after signing. His injury caused his stock to fall from a potential top overall pick that year, as evidenced by his strong minor-league performance (2.74 ERA in 324.2 innings).
Giolito is regarded as a high-ceiling prospect who has the best fastball in the minors, according to MLB.com. His curveball and changeup are both above average, causing many to believe he is ready for the majors despite never appearing in Triple-A.
For now, Giolito will factor into a rotation that already includes the likes of Max Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross. Giolito’s performance during Strasburg’s absence may determine if the team will keep him in the majors for the stretch run or give him some more time in the minors.
Giolito is the latest top pitching prospect to make his major-league debut this season, joining Julio Urias (Dodgers), Blake Snell (Rays), Jose Berrios (Twins), Robert Stephenson (Reds) and Jameson Taillon (Pirates).