What was Davey Martinez’s initial reaction to the news the Washington Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a 6-year/$140M deal, giving the Nationals a rotation that now has Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and the left-hander in the top three spots?
“I can’t do a cartwheel right here,” Martinez joked with reporters at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. “It was an early Christmas present. I spoke to him. He’s really excited to be here. Not only the player that you’re getting, but the person that you’re getting. He fits really well with what we’re trying to do.
“I’m excited to see him in uniform, see him in Spring Training, see him interact with the other players.”
“Adding Patrick Corbin,” the manager added, “with Scherzer and Strasburg, those are three pretty good horses. If we hone in on our defense, which our defense wasn’t awful, but ... in the one-run games it was significant. If we could turn the double plays in those situations...
“If you look at it,” the Nationals were 18-24 in one-run games and they were shut out 15 times.
“Half the games that we played, if we win half those games, the one-run games, it would have been a whole different story last year.”
So having added Corbin to the starting rotation, Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough to the bullpen, and Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes behind the plate, what’s next on the wish list for the manager?
“Mike and the staff and the ownership have actually given me a pretty good Christmas so far,” Martinez said. “As of right now we’re in great shape. We really are. I know Mike is going to do his best to keep improving our team. But we’ve got three unbelievable horses: Tanner coming back; Joe [Ross], hopefully he’s healthy; [Erick] Fedde vying for a fifth starting spot. We’re looking good, bullpen, two catchers, looking forward to Spring Training.”
The addition of Corbin, in particular, led other teams to start calling about the availability of some of the Nationals’ starters, including Roark, whose name came up in rumors overnight on Monday.
“When we signed Corbin teams thought that we had a little bit of a surplus so they inquired about Roark,” Rizzo explained, “and the teams [were teams] that look favorably on a one-year guy that could help them, so we’ve spoken to a couple of teams about it and nothing serious or imminent that’s happening at this point.”
Would the Nationals need to add to the starting depth to even consider dealing the right-hander?
“Yeah, I think that we would certainly want to reinforce our rotation. We’re always talking about depth, and to eliminate a pitcher like Roark, we would certainly like to strengthen that strength if we were to make a deal for him,” Rizzo said.
Martinez said he was hoping that Roark will give the Nationals what he did in the second-half of the 2018 campaign and add to the starting depth.
Over his first 13 appearances, Roark was (3-6) last season, with a 3.56 ERA, 25 walks, 65 Ks, and a .216/.289/.375 line against in 78 1⁄3 innings pitched. He went (0-6) over his next seven starts, with a 7.68 ERA, 18 walks, 33 Ks, and a .364/.436/.539 line against in 36 1⁄3 innings.
Roark snapped his winless streak in his first outing after the All-Star Break, tossing eight scoreless against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he struck out 11 of 28 batters to earn a win which started a six-outing unbeaten streak over which he went (5-0) with a 1.63 ERA, five walks, 29 Ks, and a .206/.236/.270 line against in 38 2⁄3 IP.
He finished up the season with a rough September, going (1-3) in six outings with a 5.40 ERA, two walks, 20 Ks, and a .295/.306/.533 line against in 30 IP.
“We’ve got three guys that are incredible,” Martinez said.
“Tanner started off, three months where he was good, three months where he was bad.
“Hopefully we get the three months where he was good all year next year, and I’m looking forward to that.
“He’s a smart guy. He picks Scherzer’s brain, he picks Stras’s brain. Hopefully he comes back and pitches like he’s capable of pitching.”