The Nationals have long been a team that loves to stack tall imposing starting pitching that comes down off the mound with a delivery that intimidates would be batters.
The 6-foot-6 Lucas Giolito fits into that category. The trajectory of his fastball, coupled with his daunting frame, makes it difficult for hitters to see the ball come from 9-to-6 or 12-to-6 toward the plate.
His teammate last season, 6-foot right-handed starter Reynaldo Lopez, came on strong when called up from short-season Single-A Auburn. For the final month, Lopez was 4-1 in his nine starts with a 1.33 ERA. He struck out 39 batters and allowed only seven earned runs. Lopez also had a 38-plus inning scoreless streak.
A key mechanical adjustment helped Lopez accelerate his late season push.
Despite being “only” 6-feet tall, Lopez can still bring the heat, with a 95-plus mph fastball. It is exciting to picture these two as a part of a one-two punch in the future Nationals rotation, the South Capitol Street version of Thunder and Lightning.
Giolito said he marveled at watching Lopez deal while they were with the low Single-A Hagerstown Suns for the final month of the season last year.
“I have never seen quicker arm speed out of a pitcher,” Giolito said. “He’s 6-foot, 6-foot-1. He’s a little smaller than I am, but he throws it so hard its ridiculous, and its looks so easy, too. A lot of writers and baseball people say that it looks easy coming out of my hand, but the way he throws it’s so smooth and ball just fires out. I’ve never seen anything like it live.”
It is very likely that Giolito and Lopez will be teammates to begin this season with high Single-A Potomac. That makes Giolito pretty pleased.
“I know that he has a bright future ahead of him,” Giolito said. “We’re probably going to be playing together this year and hopefully for many years to come.”
It is exciting to contemplate what Giolito and Lopez could do on back-to-back days, really at any level, to confuse hitters.