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Nationals prospect spotlight: Lucas Giolito

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Nationals prospect spotlight: Lucas Giolito

Age on Opening Day 2016: 21

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2012 draft

Position: Starting pitcher

Prospect Rank: No. 1 in Nats' org. (Baseball America)

2015 Level/Team: Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg

2015 Stats: (two teams) 21 G, 19 GS, 3.15 ERA, 117 IP, 113 H, 45 R, 41 ER, 3 HR, 37 BB, 131 SO, 6 HBP, 9 WP, 1.282 WHIP, 7-7, 10.1 SO/9, 3.54 K/BB

2015 Analysis: In his third season back from Tommy John surgery, Lucas Giolito continued to make strides as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He began the 2015 season with the Single-A Potomac Nationals and made 13 appearances there (11 starts) before moving on to Double-A.

With the P-Nats, Giolito posted a 2.71 ERA with 86 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings. He was especially good over his last seven starts in Potomac when he held a 0.96 ERA (4 ER in 37.1 IP). That earned him a promotion to Harrisburg where he made his Double-A debut on July 28.

Much like his time in Potomac this season, Giolito struggled initially at Harrisburg before settling in to dominate for an extended stretch. He allowed 10 earned runs across 10 innings in his first two starts before holding a 2.41 ERA in his final six. 

Giolito finished the season with 131 strikeouts to 37 walks in 117 total innings. In 2016, he will hope to improve on his walks and also cut down on wild pitches and hit batters as he continues to get better command of the strike zone.

2016 Outlook: Drafted in 2012 out of high school, Giolito is still a very young pitcher as he turns 22 in July. But with the expected departures of both Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister, there could be room in the Nationals' rotation out of spring for the 6-foot-6 right-hander. As of now, at least.

The Nats rotation currently projects like this: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross and Tanner Roark. Unless they make a move, Giolito could easily challenge to join that mix if he has a good spring and if the Nats see him as ready for the majors.

But if Mike Rizzo's track record as GM is any indication, that projected starting five will not end up looking the same come February. The Nats under Rizzo have added a starter every offseason and many times in unexpected moves. It would not be surprising at all if they traded for a veteran starter like they once did for Gonzalez and Fister.

Even if the Nationals add a starter this offseason, Giolito will likely debut at some point in 2016. And if he does, questions of his innings limit could become an issue. Giolito finished with 117 innings in 2015, which would set him up for somewhere around 140-160 innings next season. If they start him on the big league roster in April, we could have a whole new shutdown discussion with the Nationals expected to be back in playoff contention next September.

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Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

Nationals trade Brian Goodwin to Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- Outfielder Brian Goodwin has been acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Washington Nationals for minor league pitcher Jacob Condra-Bogan.

The 27-year-old Goodwin hit .200 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 48 games for the Nationals this season. He bruised his left wrist diving for a ball and did not play from April 15 until May 15, when he had two at-bats. He went back on the disabled list, returned June 1 and is hitting .171 (7 for 41) since.

Condra-Bogan, 23, went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 16 relief outings with Lexington of the South Atlantic League and one appearance with Wilmington of the Carolina League, also Class A.

The trade was announced Sunday.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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