Austin Adams spent six seasons in the minors with the Los Angeles Angels, who drafted him out of the University of South Florida in the 8th Round of the 2012 Draft, before the trade for Danny Espinosa that brought him to the Washington Nationals along with RHP Kyle McGowin this winter.
“We were working on it for a while during the Winter Meetings and it came to fruition last night,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters after the deal this winter.
“What it does, it improves [depth]. We reacquire some depth in the minor leagues, pitchers that can conceivably help us some time in 2017 and in the future.”
Adams, 26, posted a 2.50 ERA, a 3.00 FIP, 29 walks (7.25 BB/9), and 53 Ks (13.25 K/9) in 28 games and 36 innings pitched for Triple-A Syracuse in the Nationals’ system before he was called up on Friday afternoon.
“I’ve been in the minor leagues for freakin’ six, seven years now,” Adams told Washington Post writers Jorge Castillo and Chelseas Janes after he came up.
“Been up and down. And the inner struggles of, ‘Am I good enough to do this?’ And then finally understanding, ‘Hey I can do this. I’m good enough to do this.’ It’s an awesome feeling. Absolutely.”
Dusty Baker told the WaPost reporters he was looking for a low leverage situation for the righty to make his MLB debut.
“He’s kind of a high-strung guy,” Baker said.
“We’d like to put him in a situation that’s a little less pressure in the beginning. It’s his first big league experience. And he’s a guy, they told me, that’s extremely tough on right-handers. So we just hope he’s not over-amped and able to find the strike zone.”
A 10-0 lead in the eighth seemed like the perfect opportunity, but things did not go well for Adams, who had the first batter he faced, Patrick Kivlehan, reach on an error.
Stuart Turner walked in the next at bat, and after a fairly wild pitch to Adam Duvall, Adams hit the Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder, loading the bases, before a second walk to Scooter Gennett forced in a run. Eugenio Suarez followed with an RBI single to center on a 95 mph 3-1 fastball.
It was Adams’ 21st and final pitch of his MLB debut, which saw him throw 15 balls and just six strikes. He did sit 94-95 with his fastball, but his command was a serious issue.
“The problem was just finding the strike zone,” Baker told reporters after what ended up a much-closer-than-it-should-have-been 10-7 win.
“Just seems like he was a little amped up and high anxiety, and that was about as low a pressure situation as I could dream of to put a guy in and hopefully that was just a bad outing.
The other five runs the Reds scored came in the ninth, when Trevor Gott, the other reliever the Nationals called up on Friday, gave up five hits and five earned runs and failed to retire any of the five batters he faced.
In total, the two relievers gave up six hits and seven runs, six earned, facing 10 batters without recording an out.
Gott’s problem wasn’t finding the strike zone, it was finding the middle of it repeatedly.
“Boy, those two guys they didn’t get an out and quite a few runs and so hopefully they will be better in the future,” Baker said.