Nationals: Why A.J. Cole Should Get Another Major League Start
After a good start Monday against the Orioles, the Nationals should let A.J. Cole make his next start on Saturday
With Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross both on the disabled list, the Nationals are in need of starting pitching that can go deep into the game to save the bullpen. Right now, the only two starters they can expect to do that are Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer. Both Roark and Scherzer are starting against the O’s the next two nights.
On Monday night, I thought Cole had a good start against the Orioles. While he did give up four runs and a pair of home runs, he was able to go seven innings and gave the Nationals bullpen the rest they desperately needed.
Going into yesterday, it wasn’t a guarantee that Cole is going to make his next start in the rotation (Saturday afternoon against the Rockies). Last night, Lucas Giolito pitched one inning for Syracuse against Pawtucket in order to stay on turn to come back in the big league rotation. As of right now, it’s Cole getting that spot, according to Dusty Baker:
I would understand if the Nationals decided to call up Giolito, especially after his ten strikeout outing against Toledo on August 17. In addition, he has allowed a total of four runs in his last 16 innings. But, if it were me making this decision, I would give Cole another chance.
Even though Cole did give up those two home runs Monday, including one to Mark Trumbo, I liked the way he responded at the end of the game. After that home run, he retired 12 of the final 14 Orioles batters.
Yes, Cole’s numbers weren’t lights out at Syracuse, but he does pitch deep into games consistently. While he has only the fourth highest of any pitcher in the Chiefs rotation (124.2 innings), Cole threw six innings or more in 13 of his last 15 AAA starts.
Last night, I was disappointed by the way Reynaldo Lopez pitched. After striking out 11 against the Braves in his prior start, he went 2.2 innings and gave up six runs. Plus, he wasn’t able to finish off hitters with two strikes. Lopez has shown good signs in his five starts, but he has failed to put up a great start against a contender, albeit in a small sample size.
The question is do the Nationals think Giolito is ready to pitch in the Majors again after not going past four innings in any of his three Major League starts (one halted because of rain).
Next: Lopez Roughed Up In Loss To Orioles
With the rosters expanding next Thursday, should the Nats give Giolito one more start in the minors before calling him up? At that time, they could put Giolito or Lopez with Pedro Severino, who has caught both of them in the minor leagues.
There is no question that Cole earned the call-up to the big league level with his good numbers in his last five starts at triple-A (2.80 ERA, 33 strikeouts, six walks in 35.1 innings). Cole may not have the potential that Giolito or Lopez do, but he deserves to get a second opportunity Saturday against Colorado.