Noah Sydergaard wasn't himself last night. Of that there can be no doubt.* The Nats needed to take advantage of that and for about 2 1/2 inning it didn't look like they were going to. Ross was having trouble finding a groove and the Mets had scored four times. Meanwhile the Nats blew a bases loaded no one out opportunity in the first. Down 4-0 it might only take a few more bad breaks and failures for the Nats to lose a game that hindsight will tell them they should have won.
Those bad breaks and failures didn't happen. Instead the Nats got two big two-out hits in the third to take the lead. Sydergaard was pulled as a cautionary measure and the Nats teed off on Gilmartin. Meanwhile, the Mets offense got the bad breaks (three line drives at people) and Ross was able to get a big DP to keep the Mets from scoring again. By the time the dust settled 3 1/2 innings later the Nats were on their way to an 11-4 victory.
Now the pressure is off the debut of Lucas Giolito. If the Nats don't win tonight that's ok.
Oh yes, the double elephants in the room. Lucas Giolito is starting tonight and Trea Turner played CF last night for Syracuse.
The Trea Turner move I get. There is no doubt from how he's performed in AAA and in the majors that he is ready for a shot at a starting gig. However, the Nats chose control over contribution early in the year and Espinosa used that to his advantage to work out his kinks. Danny had a little run of decency in mid-May to keep the wolves at bay and in June has been the Nats best player. Seriously. He's hit .297 / .391 / .635 which falls a half-step behind Ramos' line for the month. But Danny has 2 SBs while Ramos contributes 4 DPs and the assumption is Espinosa is still giving you plus defense.
So Trea is currently blocked there and in reality is blocked not only in the immediate future but for about a month at least. Given how hot Danny has been you aren't going to give up on him after a couple of bad weeks. Where to find Trea some playing time? There are other positions the Nats have had issues with currently. First base is one, but it seems a waste to put Trea at that position. You could, perhaps, let Trea play 2nd and move Murphy to first, but managers are loathe to move players around who are doing well and it could be hard to sit Ryan. The other position where offense is an issue is CF. Neither Revere nor Taylor have very strong sentiment behind them like Ryan. So you give Trea a shot to see if he can play that position.
If you believe Trea is a bad SS this could be hurting him. He's not getting reps he'll need at the position he'll most likely end up at. However, that's not how I lean. I think he's a fine SS and a few games in CF won't hurt him. I wouldn't want him playing the rest of the season at CF (unless the Nats were sure he was going to come up as one), but a handful of games between now and the All-Star break to see if they have someone who can replace MAT / Revere down the stretch if need be? That seems like a smart play. Of course MAT or Revere could get hot and again block Trea, but that's a good problem to have.
The Giolito move is a bit more confusing to me. The Nats had two pitchers who would line up with a Tuesday start. In AAA they had Austin Voth and in AA they had Lucas Giolito. Some stats please
Voth : 2.99 ERA 1.107 WHIP 7.9 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Giolito : 3.17 ERA, 1.423 WHIP, 8.5 H/9, 0.3 HR/9, 4.3 BB/9, 9.1 K/9
but that could be all April games what about recently! June stats:
Voth : 3.30 ERA 1.264 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 11 BB, 1 HR in 30 IP
Giolito : 3.18 ERA, 1.368 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 7 BB, 1 HR in 22.2 IP
I'd give the edge to Giolito here... until I remember he's in a whole league lower than Voth.
It's hard to read the above and not think Voth has the best chance to win tonight's game of the two and isn't that what a spot start is all about?
Well what if it's not a spot start? If they think Strasburg is done for a while - perhaps they are ready to sit him through the AS break - then it becomes more about who they think will be better overall then just who is better today. Everyone likes Giolito's stuff more so maybe they assume that in 3, 4, 5 games Giolito's advantages would begin to shine through. This is the best I can figure.
The other thing that is apparent though - you don't bring up Giolito now unless you are fully prepared to bring up Giolito later this year. Why start the clock for a game or two on a guy everyone loves but that you aren't sure will stick in the majors even to start next year? You don't. No, you bring up Giolito now if you are ready to hand him a starting gig no later than the start of 2017. If that's the case then it brings up an interesting situation where the Nats have 6 starters for 5 slots. Stras and Max are set which means either Ross gets dealt, Roark gets dealt, or Gio doesn't get extended. Since the Gio one is the only one they really control (Rizzo is not the type to dump a player - he goes for value) then I kind of guess that decision has been made. They'd like to not resign Gio. One Gio replaces another.
That's not to say he couldn't come back. Maybe someone comes in with a deal for Roark/Ross that is killer and Rizzo pulls the trigger on that. Maybe Stras or Max goes down with TJ. In those events depth is needed and even average Gio is on a fair deal for 2017. But right now I think the Nats are ok not resigning Gio if nothing comes along that makes that necessary.
But back to Lito. Like I said, if this is one or two games, I don't like it. I don't see the point really of starting his clock for a spot start or two when a perfectly good alternate option exists that isn't making a jump from two leagues down. But if it's something longer, well then at least I can see the why there.
*If you didn't hear he walked three in the first 11 batters and he hadn't walked three in a game since last July.