Nationals

Nationals

Updated 3:52 p.m.

For Nationals top prospect Lucas Giolito, the wait is finally over.

The Nats announced on Monday their plans to call up the former first round pick to make his major league debut on Tuesday night against the NL East rival New York Mets. 

Giolito, 21, joins the Nats as the top-rated prospect in baseball. The 6-foot-6 right-hander held a 3.17 ERA through 14 starts at Double-A Harrisburg. Over his last nine games he posted a 2.41 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings.

"He's ready for the task," manager Dusty Baker said after revealing the news.

The Nats hosting the Mets already made for a big game and Giolito's debut will only add to the excitement. He'll pitch opposite Matt Harvey, another former first round pick who underwent Tommy John sugery.

The Nationals took Giolito with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He had Tommy John that August and has since worked his way up through the Nats' minor league system. Giolito participated in his first big league spring training this year.

Giolito fared well this spring - he allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings - and Baker is ready to see what he's got. 

"You don't know if they're ready or not until they get here and perform," Baker said.

Giolito throws a fastball that can reach triple digits and a curveball many project to be a plus-pitch at the MLB level. He also throws a changeup, which has been a big point of emphasis for him as a minor leaguer.

 

An MLB manager for 21 seasons, Baker has seen plenty of top prospects come and go. He plans to treat Giolito just like any other player.

"I try to let them all be themelves. You can put too many thoughts in their head. You try to make it just like another game when it's really not. You've gotta try to pretend like it's just another game, whether you're playing at Nationals Park here or you're playing at your hometown field. Once the first pitch is thrown, it's just another game. Higher stakes, more people, but you've gotta put those things out of your mind," Baker explained.

Giolito is coming up to replace Stephen Strasburg in the Nationals' rotation, as Strasburg landed on the disabled list Sunday (retro to June 16) with an upper back strain. Giolito, however, is not on the Nationals' 40-man roster, so a corresponding move will be necessary to clear room.

Exactly how long Giolito will be with the Nationals is also unclear. His second start would be set for June 3 at home against the Reds, but Strasburg will be eligible to return by then. Strasburg underwent an MRI on Monday morning, but the results had not come in before Baker's pregame media session.