Lucas Giolito, the Nationals‘ top prospect and one of the most promising pitchers in baseball, has not thrown a pitch in a game since May 11. That seems like reason for concern, but the Nationals say Giolito is fine and simply adhering to their plan for pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery.
In his first full season since Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in the fall of 2012, the Nationals have limited Giolito’s innings. Since his last start, in which he allowed one hit over six scoreless innings, Giolito has been throwing the ball.
“We are managing his innings in [his] first full season,” Nationals Assistant General Manager Doug Harris said. “He’s doing our throwing program and everything. Just have to stretch out the innings to get him to the finish line.”
Notably, this is a different tact than the Nationals took with Stephen Strasburg when he returned from Tommy John surgery — the Nationals famously shut him down prior to the 2012 playoffs without pausing his season. But Strasburg was a major leaguer and Giolito is a 19-year-old in his first professional season, and so the Nationals managed the situations differently. They did not want to affect Strasburg’s performance by pulling him out of the rotation. But they want Giolito to endure the grind of a full season, even if he has to take breaks along the way.
Giolito, ranked the No. 21 prospect in the game by Baseball America, has a 2.51 ERA with 36 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings in seven starts. The Nationals drafted Giolito with their first pick, No. 16 overall, in the 2012 draft.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have yet to receive word on left-hander Matt Purke’s second opinion, a Nationals spokesman said. The Nationals sent Purke to Dr. James Andrews for another opinion on Purke’s sore left elbow, a possible precursor to Tommy John surgery.