Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Monday that there would be no limitations on Lucas Giolito in his MLB debut tonight.
"He's not on any type of limit at all," Rizzo said.
Nats' skipper Dusty Baker told reporters before today's game that he wasn't really concerned about any limits or pitch counts, but was more focused on the first pitch and getting Giolito through the early part of tonight's game.
"I haven't talked to [Pitching Coach] Mike [Maddux] about pitch count," Baker explained.
"We try to get him through the early part of the ballgame first, before we worry about a pitch count. The way I look at it he's on a performance count. I don't know what his pitch count has been in the minor leagues.
"I mean, I'll find out before the game and talk to Mike. Sooner or later I'll be privileged to that information when I request it, and I haven't requested it yet, because, boy I've had quite a bit on my plate lately.
"You just try to get him prepared. He charted from TV last night. He's a pretty astute young man. I'm sure he made some notes on his own as well as what he has been instructed from Mike, because Mike Maddux, he gives them a pretty good idea and a game plan. And hopefully he can execute it."
Helping Giolito execute his game plan will be Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos, who, Baker said, will be invaluable to the 21-year-old starter tonight.
"No matter how much Giolito might have studied last night, he can't know as much as Ramos does about the opposition.
"But not only does Ramos have to know the opposition, he has to learn Giolito in a short period of time, kind of what makes him tick and what his primary pitches are and when he gets in trouble his go-to pitch, his double play pitch, his strikeout pitch, and so there's a lot to learn, but I've always thought that the advantage went to the pitcher if you haven't seen him before, so I'd like to think the advantage goes to Giolito because those guys haven't seen him."
Without offering the Mets' hitters any advice, Baker talked about how they might approach the debuting starter, and why it's important to get through the early innings and settle in.
"It's important especially in your first start. I've always said -- and I hope the Mets aren't listening -- I've always said you want to get to a young pitcher early. So I don't know what their game plan is going to be, we'll find out soon, whether it's to attack him early or to make him pitch. So, you find out in the first couple of hitters what their game plan is, and they're a pretty aggressive bunch of guys, especially on the fastball, so I'm just hoping that he has good control, above all, and that he trusts his defense, because we can catch the ball."
Baker got a close look at Giolito this Spring, in the right-hander's first big league Spring Training, and the Nats' skipper said he was impressed with what he saw.
"What stood out to me is he had a very quick arm. Some guys it just explodes at you. He has a pleasant demeanor off the field and he seems to be a warrior in the time that we've seen him on the mound, which is how you want him to be and he displayed good control in Spring Training."
Through fourteen starts with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators this season, Giolito was (5-3) with a 3.17 ERA, a 3.23 FIP, 34 walks (4.31 BB/9) and 72 Ks (9.13 K/9) in 71 IP before he got the call.
Though he didn't necessarily start strong out of the gate with a 5.30 ERA after five starts, before he started to settle in in his second run at Double-A hitting, Rizzo said yesterday he wasn't concerned at all.
"I just think he had a slow start," Rizzo said. "He's pitched extremely well since his first four or five starts. I think he's hitting on all cylinders in Double-A. We were just ready to promote him to Triple-A when [Stephen Strasburg] had his issues, so we figure we would bring him to the big leagues and give him a few starts here."
"He's going one start at a time and we're going to try to approach it -- I mean, you can only throw one pitch at a time," Baker said.
"I mean, you're worried about the pitch count, which is a hundred pitches down the road, you've got to worry about one pitch and executing that at a time before you can get to a hundred pitches."
Giolito will throw his first pitch in the majors at 7:05 PM EDT tonight in the nation's capital.