Game 78 lineups: Nats vs. Mets

There's nothing quite like a major league debut. Every single one of them, no matter how hyped, is a big deal, literally a once-in-a-lifetime moment for a young man who gets to realize his dream. There are, of course, debuts that are bigger than others, and tonight we will be witnessing one of those when Lucas Giolito takes the mound shortly after 7 p.m.

The 21-year-old right-hander may not be pitching tonight with as much hoopla surrounding him as Stephen Strasburg had six years ago, but he deserves plenty of it. Multiple publications declared him baseball's top pitching prospect entering the season, and though his numbers at Double-A Harrisburg (5-3, 3.17 ERA, 72 strikeouts, 34 walks in 71 innings) weren't eye-popping, he put together a dominant stretch over the last month that helped convince club officials he was ready to make the leap.

jordan-pitch-red-sidebar.jpgTo make room for Giolito on the 25-man roster, the Nationals optioned right-hander Rafel Martin to Triple-A Syracuse and granted right-hander Taylor Jordan his release.

Though the Nationals insist there are no limits on Giolito, let's be honest here: He's a young pitcher who had Tommy John surgery shortly after getting drafted. They'll be watching him closely, both tonight and throughout the rest of the season, always putting his long-term interests ahead of his short-term ones. In other words, don't be surprised if he's held to 100 or fewer pitches tonight, no matter how well he performs.

Big league debut or not, this is a big game for the Nationals, who are trying to expand their lead over the Mets to five games and beat Matt Harvey for the third time this season. It should be an eventful night at the park, regardless of how this all plays out.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, XM 89,
Weather: Chance of rain, 82 degrees, wind 9 mph left field to right field

CF Ben Revere
LF Jayson Werth
RF Bryce Harper
2B Daniel Murphy
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan ZImmerman
3B Anthony Rendon
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Lucas Giolito

METS (40-35)
RF Curtis Granderson
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
CF Yeonis Cespedes
2B Neil Walker
1B James Loney
3B Wilmer Flores
LF Brandon Nimmo
C Travis d'Arnaud
RHP Matt Harvey

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