With an opening in their rotation on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Nationals are turning to a promising young pitching prospect and his name is not Lucas Giolito.
Right-hander Reynaldo Lopez will instead get the call. The flame-throwing 22-year-old will make his major league debut just nine days after he appeared in the MLB Futures Game in San Diego, Ca. Lopez - who is ranked as a top 50 prospect by multiple outlets - retired three batters in the showcase.
"We called up a power arm," manager Dusty Baker said. "We just thought that that was the move right now."
To clear a spot on the 25-man roster, the Nationals are sending lefty reliever Sammy Solis to the disabled list. Solis has an injured right knee that will require an MRI to determine his timeline to return.
"It's on his landing leg. When it's on your landing leg, it's even worse," Baker said.
The Nationals, though, plan to backdate his DL stint using the recent All-Star break to their advantage. Solis last pitched on July 7 against the Mets.
Lopez joins the Nationals from Triple-A Syracuse where he held a 3.27 ERA through two starts. He spent most of the 2016 season at Double-A Harrisburg and boasts a 3.19 ERA in 16 total starts across both affiliates. Perhaps most impressive is Lopez' 109 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings this season.
Lopez is known for his fastball velocity which reaches upwards of 100 miles per hour. He also throws a curveball and changeup.
Bringing Lopez up, however, will still require a corresponding move beyond Solis' placement on the DL. Lopez is not on the 40-man roster.
The Nats turned to Lopez in part due to Giolito's uneven second MLB start. Giolito was excellent in his debut on June 28, but in New York on July 7 he allowed four earned runs on seven hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings.
"Giolito needs some work, especially with his breaking ball and his location," Baker said.
That does not mean Giolito won't be back soon. The Nats, in fact, have a plan in place for him to be Lopez' replacement if needed.
"He's pitching on the same day as Lopez and that's by design. If things don't work out or if Joe Ross isn't ready, then we'll go back to Giolito after he gets some work," Baker said.
Ross is eligible to return from the DL on Monday, but Lopez' callup ensures that will not be the case.
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