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One MLB columnist expects Lucas Giolito to be dominant in 2020

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One MLB columnist expects Lucas Giolito to be dominant in 2020

BY PETER HAILEY

Nationals fans' expectations for pitching prospect Lucas Giolito are already incredibly high. A recent list published by one site will only increase the hype around 21-year-old, however -- even though that seems nearly impossible.

Everyone in the Washington organization is anticipating Giolito's debut the same way Game of Thrones watchers anticipate a new episode, and with Giolito being promoted to Double-A a few days ago, that momentous day seems to be inching closer. But while watching a young Giolito first take the mound in the MLB will surely be thrilling, Bleacher Report is more excited about what he'll look like in five years.

Last Thursday, the site released a rankings of who they believe will be the top 20 starting pitchers in 2020, and after seeing where Giolito landed in the projections, it's safe to say they think just as highly of him as the team's front office does.

When compiling the names to make up their list, Bleacher Report looked at factors such as command, pitch repertoire, durability and upside, then graded each player on a 95 point scale. And after all was said and done, the young Giolito checked in at No. 7, with author Joel Reuter raving about Giolito's upside.

"Giolito is probably the top pitching prospect in baseball right now, as the 21-year-old has impressed every step of the way since getting healthy," Reuter said. "He has legitimate ace potential and could just be reaching his prime in 2020."

Reuter is particularly impressed by the right hander's arsenal of pitches, and how he can place them wherever he wants.

"For a power pitcher with electric stuff, Giolito has also flashed command beyond his years during his time in the minors," he said. "He has a 2.7 BB/9 rate for his career and has issued just 18 free passes in 63.2 innings of work so far this season."

Overall, Reuter, an MLB Columnist for Bleacher Report since 2009, thinks Giolito gives the Nats a talented piece in the rotation that could help the franchise make some tough choices in the future a little more confidently.

"The Nationals have some decisions to make with Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister headed for free agency this offseason and Stephen Strasburg doing the same the following year," Reuter said. "Letting one or more of those guys walk will be made easier by the presence of Giolito."

Giolito was the only member of D.C.'s baseball team to end up in the top 20, but a slew Nationals arms found themselves right on the bubble, only to be left out for a couple of reasons. Stephen Strasburg was apparently given "strong consideration" but was denied a place in the rankings due to the many question marks surrounding him. Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, were excluded "because of age and expected regression."

The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was slotted in at the No.1 spot, with the White Sox's Chris Sale and the Pirates' Gerrit Cole rounding out the top three.

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

The Nationals have had their eyes on Kelvin Herrera for years

On Monday, in the middle of their game with the Yankees, Mike Rizzo did a very Mike Rizzo thing and added another strong arm to the Nationals' bullpen well before the trade deadline.

In a trade with the Kansas City Royals, the Nats dealt prospects Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel for relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera, who's in his eighth season, has walked only two batters in the last 27 games and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

"We just thought that it was a good idea to strike early," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington.

"We thought the closer to the deadline we get, the more competition we'll have for Kelvin [Herrera]. We were able to strike a deal with Dayton Moore quickly and [we] couldn't be happier about it."

But Mike Rizzo didn't just come across Herrera by chance, he's had his sights on him for years.

"He was one of the guys that we kind of kicked the tires on [last year] and obviously the price for Kelvin at that time with a year and a half of control was a lot different than it was with four and a half months of control."

"We did have our eyes on him for years. He's been a great reliever for years. He's one of the guys we talked about when we talked about improving our bullpen." 

Herrera has spent all of his eight seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, even winning a World Series. Trades can bring both joy and angst, but Rizzo knows Herrera is excited to get back to playing meaningful baseball.

"This guy is such a competitor; World Series tested and playoff tested. He's happy to be playing meaningful games. He talked about what it takes to win a World Series, and you know, our guys were all ears. I think he's really thankful for getting the opportunity to get after it again and get another ring."

"At the same time, you know, it's hard for those old relationship to die and to move on, but he was very excited about being with us. I spoke to him after we made the trade and he [was] a little shocked, but really fired up about it. And when he got to the clubhouse, [he] met some of his old teammates - Timmy Collins and Ryan Madson -  and was welcome with open arms by not only the bullpen guys but everyone on the team." 

Herrera will join Sean Doolittle, Brandon Kintzler, and Ryan Madson to make about as deep of a bullpen as any in baseball right now.

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