When Stephen Strasburg landed on the DL with an upper back strain (which led to his ribs being out of place until they were popped back in), the Washington Nationals needed to make a move to bring up a starter.
This afternoon, Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker announced that it will be top prospect Lucas Giolito getting the call to start the second game of three with the New York Mets in D.C.
Giolito, 21, and the top-ranked right-hander on just about every list of the top prospects in baseball, was (5-3) overall with a 3.17 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 34 walks (4.31 BB/9), 72 Ks (9.13 K/9) and a .247 AVG against in 71 innings pitched at Double-A in the Nats' system this season before getting the call.
"Giolito is pitching tomorrow," Baker confirmed this afternoon, "so... he's ready for the task."
Asked what he saw from Giolito this Spring and what the scouting reports said that leads him to believe the 2012 1st Round pick is ready for the challenge, Baker said you never know.
"You don't know if he's ready or not till they actually get here and perform," Baker admitted.
"And then you still don't know if they're ready cause it takes a while for the league to learn you and for you to learn the league, but I liked what we saw in Spring Training.
"He was not only one of the most likely choices, but it fell on his day also.
"His day to pitch was today and it would have been tomorrow and we had to choose between yesterday's pitcher and potentially today's pitcher down in Syracuse, so we just thought it would be better to back him up a day.
"And plus, you've got to go -- kind of, you're at the mercy of the roster also. So all those factors pointed to Giolito."
Asked if he would talk to the right-hander before his debut and load him up with information or just let him go out and do his thing, Baker said he would likely take the latter approach.
"I try to let them all be themselves," he said. "Because you put too many thoughts in their head and I mean, you try to make it as if it's just another game when it's really not. You've got to try to pretend that it's just another game whether you're playing at Nationals Park here, or you're playing in your hometown field, because once the first pitch is thrown it is another game.
"You've got higher stakes, more people, but you have to put all those things out of your mind and realize that you just have to concentrate on throwing the ball over the plate, throwing to your catcher, following his lead and game plan, because there's a good chance he knows more about the opposition than you do."
Is it a one-start thing or will Giolito stay until Strasburg is back from the DL?
"I don't know," Baker said. "I don't know. That's a good question, but that's impossible to answer. Has he had enough seasoning down there? I mean, probably not, but sometimes guys do, you just don't know."
Asked if he was excited to see what is arguably the top pitching prospect in the minors make his MLB debut, Baker said simply, "No."
"He's a prospect. Do you know how many prospects I've seen?"
"A lot," the reporter who asked responded.
"Yeah. So some work, some don't, but we're trying to ward off the Mets."
As for Strasburg's current status, Baker said he talked to the 27-year-old right-hander, who had an MRI this morning, but as of this afternoon they hadn't received an update from the doctor.
"He doesn't know and we don't know, that's the honest truth," Baker added.
We do, however, know that the Nationals' top pick of the 2012 Draft will be in the nation's capital soon, if he's not already and he'll take on the New York Mets tomorrow night.