Yesterday, the Washington Nationals fell to the Colorado Rockies 5-3. Lucas Giolito continued his struggles in the big leagues, giving up four runs in just five innings of work.
Over the course of a Major League Baseball season, injuries are inevitable. Every team has to deal with them and some are just quite frankly more lucky than others. The Washington Nationals have been a relatively healthy team this year, but their rotation has suffered the injury bug of late. Stephen Strasburg is currently on the 15-day DL with an elbow issue, and Joe Ross is still yet to return from a shoulder injury that has kept him out since June.
Yesterday, Giolito had another turn to try to be the first young starter to solidify his spot in the rotation. But, he was not able to get the job done against the Rockies. The Nationals top prospect again struggled with command, something that has been an issue for him in the minor leagues. His fastball also only sat 92-94 mph, not the 96-98 we all expected to see when Giolito was promoted.
Giolito has posted a 5.62 ERA on the season, and has given up 18 hits in just 16 innings of work. Plus, he has a 1.81 WHIP in those 16 innings, walking 11 batters.
More from District on Deck
- Robots in Baseball? The Possibility of an Automated Ball/Strike System in the MLB
- Washington Nationals Re-Sign RHP Erasmo Ramirez
- Washington Nationals Sign RHP Trevor Williams
- Washington Nationals find Success in First Draft Lottery
- Washington Nationals: What to Know for the MLB Draft Lottery
Now it is not time to push the panic button just yet, but there have been some concerning signs. The number one concern in my opinion is Giolito’s velocity. When the Washington Nationals called him up, the expectation was he would be a fireballer and hit close to triple digits.
In his starts this season, Giolito has mostly topped off around 95 mph, and that 3-4 mph difference is a big deal. With an upper 90’s fastball like Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg have, you can afford to make location mistakes at times. If Giolito is not getting those extra crucial miles per hour, it only makes his command more pivotal to his success.
Command has been Lucas’s biggest problem since he was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2012. Now, young pitchers do tend to struggle with command of their pitches. However, at times, Gioltio has not even been able to get his fastball over for a strike. In yesterday’s loss, Giolito missed badly with some of his fastballs. When he did get them over, they were right down the center of the plate. Not being able to locate your fastball also makes it much more difficult to throw your other pitches for strikes, because you are behind in the count so much.
Pitchers do go through tough stretches at time and Giolito has only had four Major League starts so it is a small sample size. With that being said, Giolito can be a very valuable asset to the Nationals in their playoff run if he can get on track.
With Strasburg’s health in question, it is imperative that the Washington Nationals have four starters ready for the postseason, and Giolito can be one of them. The more he pitches and more he gets comfortable being in the big leagues, the results will get better.
If Lucas Giolito can live up to the top pitching prospect in baseball title he once had, he could be an extremely dangerous weapon for the Nationals pitching staff in the postseason. But if he continues to struggle to close out the season, it may be time for the Washington Nationals to be concerned about their top pitching prospect.