Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Its Moving Day/Giolito day!


Graduation day has arrived. Photo unk via

Graduation day has arrived. Photo unk via

There were a TON of cascading moves announced today, with multiple guys moving up in our system.  Starting at the bottom:

  • GCL: 2016 draftees and RHPs Jacob Howell and Phil Morse got bumped to Auburn after one appearance each in the GCL.
  • Auburn then sent Angelo La Bruna, Robbie Dickey and Randy Encarnacion (who probably should have been higher honestly) to Hagerstown.  This will be Dickey’s third shot at Low-A but he was clearly not touchable in Short-A (8ip, 1H 11Ks in 3 outings so far this year).
  • Hagerstown then bumped up two great hitting prospects Max Schrock, Victor Robles and Trey Lambert to Potomac.  Robles and Schrock were both all-stars and both were flatly out-hitting Low-A.  Lambert has quietly been toiling in the bullpen and had a 27/2 K/BB ratio this year.  I tell you, i’m really starting to get excited about Robles, and I think Schrock is turning into a draft day steal.
  • Potomac then bumped up Drew Ward, Andrew Stevenson, Ryan Brinley and Boone Whiting to AA.   Three of these four were all-stars this year, and Whiting was in AAA all of last year so was wasting his efforts in high-A.  Kudos for Ward to get the promotion and get his prospect career back on track, and even more kudos for Stevenson to earn such a quick promotion to AA.
  • Harrisburg then moved up Chris Bostick, Zack Collier and suddenly dominant starter Reynaldo Lopez to Syracuse (they also put Wander Suero on the TIL list to account for the four promotions).  How about the season Lopez is having?  As noted in the comments, he’s leading AA in K/9 while maintaining a 3+ K/BB ratio.
  • Syracuse’s corresponding moves were mostly bloodshed: they released Scott Sizemore, Tony Campana and RHP Juan Gutierrez to make room.  They also promoted Rafael Martin for at least the day.  Lopez isn’t going to be pitching out of the bullpen though, so I’d imagine that Jared Long will get demoted to fill the vacated spot in AA.

Why is there an extra spot in AA’s rotation?

Because Lucas Giolito got called up!  Mid Monday the announcement came out; he’s making the start on Tuesday.  Get your DVRs ready!  I won’t go into Giolito too much; we all know what he’s supposed to be.  Question is; will he live up to the hype?

(if you want to see all the transactions organized by league, here’s the links I use):

Minor League Transaction announcement links

23 Responses to 'Its Moving Day/Giolito day!'

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  1. I was posting one the last one while Todd was putting up the new one so will move this forward. First question: does Giolito have to strike out at least 15 to settle the debate with Marty?

    The caution, as I noted yesterday, is that Giolito really labored in his last start. The hot hand right now is really Lopez (promoted to AAA).

    The Giolito start is interesting in the short term by itself but also in the medium term because of Gio’s struggles. The Nats didn’t hesitate to shelve Fister last season when Ross showed he was ready. Giolito has 70-75 innings left for the season (Lopez only around 50), based on an increase of no more than 20-25%. If Arroyo can right himself, you figure he’ll be in the calculus as well, like it or not. Slot him between the flames of Max and Stras and screw up the swings of opposing teams for weeks afterward.

    But Arroyo isn’t nearly as interesting as Giolito!


    27 Jun 16 at 5:19 pm

  2. I think there are still quite a number of promotions due, and coming. Keeping an eye on a couple of folks who are old for the level at Hagerstown and certainly performing. But there has to be upward push as well and organizational shakeout or room.

    The Encarnacion promotion looks like he is getting a now or never shot while the draftees warm up. If he swims, great. If not, we’ll see Johnson, Banks, Upshaw, Sundberg or even….Juan Soto (Naaaah!) in Hagerstown.

    Dickey gets another shot with his 4th round stuff. He’s not old, just older than Giolito. 🙂

    What an exciting day.


    27 Jun 16 at 5:56 pm

  3. KW.. I’ll be real happy if Giolito holds his own and doesn’t walk a bunch. I was surprised as thought Voth did his time, and did it well. But I guess they know they need to use it or lose it now regarding Giolito’s remaining innings. Just get his full innings in as a starter and hopefully open a mid summer cushion in the standings. Don’t think they’ll tinker with him as a late season or playoff reliever with the TJ issue.

    I’m most excited about Turner playing CF tonight in Syracuse. that’s what I’ve been hoping for to get him at the top of the order and on the field somewhere, be it SS, 2b or outfield. I hope they mix him in the infield as well to give Zimm and Rendon some days.

    I’m afraid i was right about Harper’s horrific slump and Rendon’s average-ness. This Harper thing is going to be a big story if he doesn’t break out in a big way in the next week or two.

    Crazy that Dusty doesn’t reward guys like Robinson and Drew with a consecutive start or just to ride their hot bats after they hit game winning homers for this club.

    Marty C

    27 Jun 16 at 6:38 pm

  4. Will also be interesting to see if we get rained out tonight or tomorrow, if they slot Giolito and skip Gio Gonzalez turn in the rotation.

    Marty C

    27 Jun 16 at 6:44 pm

  5. Three of the moves involve probably three of the four of the Nats’ most talented prospects: Giolito, Robles, and Lopez. (The fourth, Turner, is starting in CF tonight for the ‘Cuse, so he’s sort of on the move as well.) Ward may be the organization’s top power prospect, and Stevenson and Brinley continue their rapid rise from the ’15 draft, Brinley as a 27th rounder (with a 0.65 ERA and 0.80 WHIP).

    Schrock was also a ’15 draftee. Both he and Bostick, who has quietly posted the highest OPS at Harrisburg, show unusually good pop in the middle INF. Both are probably limited to 2B, however (Bostick saw a little time in the OF last year). Difo has really scuffled this year and seems to be giving way on the prospect ladder.

    Some of the other moves are more organizational shuffling than anything exciting (other than to the guys involved, of course). The trio coming south from Auburn were Auburn repeaters. The other Auburn returnees now have to be taking long looks in the mirror (Kerian and Dulin each only have one hit apiece). The newbie at Auburn who is making the biggest case to follow has been Daniel Johnson. On the mound, it’s been the 19-yr-old lefties, Watson and Ramirez. Ryan Ripken has been making his case to get back to Hagerstown.

    Interesting to see the two small-college pitchers, Howell and Morse, get the first bump from GCL. Morse had 5 Ks in 1.2 IP, so apparently he struck out everyone he faced. I guess that got some attention!


    27 Jun 16 at 7:03 pm

  6. Marty, I was thinking the same thing about what a rainout might mean.


    27 Jun 16 at 7:05 pm

  7. What a game last night. Picked a good one to make my first in game experience of the year.

    Here is a question that I asked of the fangraphs prospect guy, FWIW:

    Wally: Do you think Andrew Stevenson can be a starting CF at the MLB level? Will he hit enough?

    Eric A Longenhagen: Love Stevenson but don’t think he’ll ever be more than passable in short stints in CF. More LF for me (55 runner). That swing is not going to produce any kind of game power but he might provide enough defensive value as a plus glove in LF to be an everyday player anyway.


    28 Jun 16 at 7:38 am

  8. Wally, are you just now getting home? Did that game ever end?

    I haven’t looked at the NYC press coverage, but you have to wonder about Thor’s arm. He left he last start with soreness and this one after getting battered over three innings. He sure was still throwing an “easy” 100, though.

    The only way Stevenson plays in LF in the majors is if there’s a masher in CF (such as if Taylor can turn into a steady 25-30 HR guy). You can’t have two non-power guys in an OF, at least with a contender.

    I’m very pleased with Stevenson’s progression, but I didn’t understand the pick at the time, and still don’t. Then they took a smallish, potentially underpowered guy in Perkins with the next pick. They did pretty well with the rest of the ’15 draft, though!


    28 Jun 16 at 8:42 am

  9. Traffic was worse getting there – two hours from western FFX Cty.

    I was mostly surprised that someone thought that Stevenson couldn’t stay in CF. He consistently gets defensive kudos, so I thought it was a given.

    Bone chips, apparently, for Thor. We had phenomenal seats (Sec 126 – father’s Day present from my wife). And from that angle, even though he struggled, Thor looks impossible to hit. I think the only way hitters do hit him is they sit fastball all the time, and hope to ID the spin early and lay off anything else and hope it isn’t a strike. Makes me think they do the same for Stras.

    The other observation is that Harp seems off. Just not relaxed and happy this year. Seems like his ‘struggles’ are affecting his attitude, too. He hit a laser off the wall, yet was trotting from the get go and only had a single. Then he makes a little league baserunning error by running a ball hit in front of him. He really needs to be better than that.


    28 Jun 16 at 9:42 am

  10. Turner in CF: that to me was a very, very interesting tidbit kind of buried in the news of Giolito’s promotion. I think the implications are obvious: Revere has not lived up to his billing and the team is sick of Taylor’s strikeouts. I’m 100% onboard with Turner playing CF and leading off for this team. There’s no reason a skilled SS can’t learn CF in a jiffy ( just ask Ian Desmond, whose UZR/150 figures in the outfield this year have been off the charts good, especially in LF:

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 16 at 10:58 am

  11. I’m starting to think Matt Williams really did have a huge positive effect on Harper. Swing was much more balanced and under control, as Williams preached his “how many, not how far” mantra to harper re HR’s.

    I did think a couple of his swings last night looked better though. But he’s gotta work out that right hip from dominating his swing.

    I think Murphy has been slumping too, but his swing and approach is so simple his slumps aren’t as pronounced.

    The ghost of Trea Turner sure lights a fire under the guys he’s in line to replace. First he turned Espi into Babe Ruth, and now Revere has an amazing game with Turner breathing down his neck. He needs to get a 1b mitt to get Zimm going now.

    Who goes down for Papp? Rivero or Treinen?

    Marty C

    28 Jun 16 at 11:02 am

  12. I was talking with my dad about Harper; i was attributing his issues to him trying to overcompensate for the “chicago treatment” … but we’re so far removed from that now, that you just have to wonder what the hell is going on with him.

    Who makes way when Papelbon returns: well Martin first, but then I think it has to be Rivero.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 16 at 11:08 am

  13. Wally, I don’t know where Longenhagen gets his info, but everything I’ve seen on Stevenson, dating back before the draft, was that he’s a superior defense CF, albeit with a weak arm. I do seem to recall Luke questioning a couple of things he did defensively early this season at Potomac, though. Anyway, Stevenson is supposed to be Revere but with better defense.

    Yeah, the original Revere sure seemed to get the Trea Turner message in flashing neon, didn’t he? That’s the Revere we thought we were getting. It just took him three months into the season to show up. (And why not go on and steal third as well? How come no one steals third anymore?)

    You also have to wonder whether Trea in CF puts Taylor or Revere in play for a trade.

    As Marty said, the real key for Giolito tonight will be control. It took him 84 pitches to labor through 4.2 IP in his last start. He’s likely to be overly psyched, as any of us would be, and probably over-throwing somewhat. Perhaps his Hollywood upbringing will leave him not quite so star-struck. We’ll see.

    The Nats have a chance to really stagger the Mets right now. Last night had to hurt for the Mets, taking a 4-run lead, only to see their ace give it all back and then leave with a sore arm (again). They’re without Duda and Wright, and their lineup in general has cooled off. Over the season thus far, the Nats have outscored them by 79 runs. And we know the Nats certainly don’t fear Harvey. Time to kick ’em while they’re down!

    And oh, by the way, if the playoffs started today, the Mets, Cards, and Pirates would all be on the outside looking in.


    28 Jun 16 at 1:06 pm

  14. Expectations for Giolito tonight? I’ll go 5ip, 4 hits, 1 walk, 5 ks, 2 runs.

    If you think about it, the Mets in 2016 are turning precisely into the Nats of 2015. Nearly unanimous predictions of a divisional win and a historically good rotation suddenly self destructing with injuries and under performance.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 16 at 1:36 pm

  15. I know that the Pirates aren’t that far out of the wildcard, and that McCutcheon has been struggling, but I wonder if the Nats could tempt them with an offer of Taylor and some young starters. They’re about to owe Cutch a lot more money, Melancon is about to be a FA, and their starters are struggling. Are those guys the two “missing pieces” the Nats need to step up in class? Or would such a deal just make the Nats older and even more “all in” for the three-year window?


    28 Jun 16 at 2:44 pm

  16. Hmm, I didn’t make clear that the deal would be for McCutcheon and Melancon. The Nats would give up Taylor, AJ Cole, Voth, probably Lopez (although I’d prefer it to be Fedde), and maybe more.


    28 Jun 16 at 2:47 pm

  17. Giolito: 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 hits, 2 walks, 6 Ks. The Nats rock Harvey again and the kid gets a Curly W.


    28 Jun 16 at 2:49 pm

  18. Strasburg’s debut laughs (7ip, 14ks, 4 hits 2 runs).

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 16 at 3:32 pm

  19. Poise. Lots of it. The kid’s got it. The stage wasn’t too big for him. He didn’t try to strike everyone out. He got it over and trusted his defense. He wasn’t shaken by the hard-hit balls in the 1st, or by the rain delay. In short, he looked like he belonged on the major-league stage.

    Now the question becomes whether he’ll stay there.

    And the Nats picked up another game on the Mets and the Fish. And that Harper kid (only 21 months older than Giolito) looked like he was finding his groove.

    Life is good.


    29 Jun 16 at 5:18 am

  20. Giolito did look poised, although I felt he was more up in the zone than he would have liked and benefitted from a very generous zone. A little lucky overall in his results. But I’ll happily take it and wouldn’t object to seeing another start or two.

    Anyone hear what’s up with the dunning signing (and maybe more)? Kind of odd it hasn’t happened yet.


    29 Jun 16 at 6:46 am

  21. Yeah, he was up early, which probably had a lot to do with the hard-hit balls. But his command seemed to improve as he settled in.

    I haven’t seen anything on the signings. Beyond Dunning, I’m particularly interested in Hayden Howard and Ryan Williamson. I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything about Dunning. Wiseman took some time after the CWS to sign last year as well, somewhat to his detriment, as he reported late and started slowly.


    29 Jun 16 at 8:00 am

  22. New posted to talk about Giolito!

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 16 at 8:38 am

  23. is Howard’s twitter; no updates since 6/12. But he’s a senior so it seems like an obvious one that he’d sign. is Williamson; he’s referring to himself as a “former” NC STate pitcher and a current member of the Nats org. Which implies to me that he’s signed and it just hasn’t been announced.

    I can’t find a twitter account for Dunning. is Tristin Clarke’s twitter; its protected unless you follow him. But he’s listing himself as a UNO commit

    Todd Boss

    29 Jun 16 at 8:57 am

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