Lucas Giolito‘s 2015 season did not start until May 8, as he spent the first month of the season working in extended Spring Training. The Washington Nationals held baseball’s number one pitching prospect back for a month so that he would be able to pitch into September without compromising his innings limit. Being held back would also allow Giolito to get the most out of his midseason call-up to Double-A.
As the minor league season winds down, the tall right-hander made his final start of the season for the Harrisburg Senators Friday night. Though he did not have his best outing, Giolito battled through six innings without breaking. It was evident in the first inning that his command was not sharp, taking three full counts and needing 24 pitches to retire the side. At times, Giolito was dominant. After allowing a single and double to start the third inning, Giolito struck out the next two batters and almost escaped before allowing a weakly struck single which plated two runs.
Giolito would end the game throwing 91 pitches in six innings, 55 for strikes. He allowed seven hits and four earned runs while walking a batter and hitting another. Four strikeouts were added to the ledger, bringing Giolito’s Double-A total to 45 in 47.1 innings.
Giolito was at his best when attacking with his fastball. He had a few quick innings when pounding the strike zone with his 94 mph heater. Where he struggled was in attempting to put hitters away with his curveball and changeup. He made only one big mistake, allowing a leadoff home run in the top of the sixth inning. The home run was just the second allowed at Double-A for Giolito.
The 2015 season should be considered nothing but a smashing success for the 20-year-old Giolito. He exceeded 100 innings for the first time in his four year career and pitched well after being called up to Double-A. After an initial adjustment period to facing more mature hitters, Giolito had reeled off five consecutive starts of two earned runs or less prior to his final start.
All told, Giolito wraps up the year with a 7-7 record in 21 games with a 3.15 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9. He gave up only three home runs for the entire year and allowed a .253 BAA. Looking ahead to 2016, it seems most likely that Giolito will start the year back in Harrisburg before likely making the jump to Triple-A or all the way to Washington. With just a bit more polish on his breaking ball and changeup, Giolito should be ready to assume a position in the Nationals’ rotation.