Baseball's No. 1 prospect starts for Nationals against rival Mets
By Austin Laymance
Baseball fans can get their first look at the sport's top prospect tonight when right-hander Lucas Giolito starts for the Nationals against the Mets and Matt Harvey.
Giolito, the No. 1 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, will be thrown right into the fire in his Major League debut in a matchup of National League East contenders.
A number of established aces will also take the mound today, including the Rangers' Cole Hamels, the Cubs' Jon Lester and the D-backs' Zack Greinke. Meanwhile on the West Coast, Tim Lincecum gets the ball for the Angels against the suddenly resurgent Astros.
And the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.
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Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Top prospect debuts: NYM@WSH, 7:05 p.m.
Giolito, 21, starts in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg when the Nats host the Mets in the second game of a three-game series at Nationals Park. Giolito is being promoted from Double-A Harrisburg, where he was 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 14 starts, with 72 strikeouts in 71 innings.
"We figured he gave us the best option to win the game," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He's our No. 1 prospect. We like the way he's developed. We think he'll do well and give us a chance to win."
MLB Pipeline's scouting report on Giolito says he has the stuff to develop into an ace with "the highest ceiling among Minor League pitchers, boasting an elite fastball that sits mid-to-upper-90s and a 12-to-6 curveball that he throws with power and hard, downer action. His changeup has steadily improved in the past two seasons and his confidence along with it, giving him a legitimate weapon against left-handed hitters."
Hamels starts in the Bronx: TEX@NYY, 7:05 p.m.
Hamels toes the rubber for the Rangers in the second game of a four-game series with the Yankees, who will counter with left-hander CC Sabathia. Hamels has won his last three starts, producing a 0.87 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings over that span. Hamels has been great away from home and is riding an eight-game win road win streak dating back to last August. As for Sabathia, he'll pitch on five days' rest and enters the game with a 2.71 ERA, which is the sixth lowest in the American League (minimum 60 innings).
Stat that matters: Sabathia's 2.71 ERA through 12 starts is the lowest it has been at least 12 starts into a season in his career since 2011, when he had a 2.55 ERA after 24 starts.
Bryant's encore: CHC@CIN, 7:10 p.m.
All eyes will be on Cubs star Kris Bryant, who went 5-for-5 with three homers and two doubles in Monday's win over the Reds, making him the first player in modern MLB history (since 1913) to record three homers and two doubles in one game. Bryant has never faced Reds starter John Lamb, who has allowed three homers in his last nine innings at Great American Ball Park. Lester starts for the Cubs, seeking his 10th win of the year.
Stat that matters: In his last five games in Cincinnati, Bryant is 13-for-24 (.542) with five homers, four doubles and 14 RBIs.
Greinke on a roll: PHI@ARI, 9:40 p.m.
The D-backs have to feel good with Greinke on the mound, because he's won his last seven decisions and the club has won his last eight outings overall. It's the final start of the month for Greinke, who is looking to become only the second Arizona pitcher with five wins in June (Randy Johnson went 5-1 in June 2001). Over his last 13 outings, Greinke is 10-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Greinke will be opposed by Jerad Eickhoff, who has won three of his last four starts for the Phils.
Stat that matters: Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is 0-for-14 lifetime against Greinke with one walk and three strikeouts.
Lincecum looks to rebound: HOU@LAA, 10:10 p.m.
Lincecum makes his third start with the Angels tonight when they host the Astros in the second game of a three-game series at Angel Stadium. Lincecum struggled his last time out, allowing four runs on seven hits in three innings against the A's. Of course, it was his second time facing Oakland in five days, having pitched six innings of one-run ball in his Angels debut on June 18. Lincecum has not faced the Astros since July 2012. Lance McCullers starts for the Astros, who entered this series having won nine of their last 11 games.
Stat that matters:Mike Trout has started in 139 straight regular-season games for the Angels, which is the longest active starting streak in MLB.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.