Matt Wieters is 1 for 8 with two Ks in two games back off the Disabled List, having missed 50 games while he recovered from surgery to repair a torn hamstring in his left leg.
Rumors out there have the Washington Nationals continuing to pursue catching help with Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo writing this past weekend that the Nationals sent special assistant to the GM Dan Jennings out to scout one-time Nats’ catcher Wilson Ramos, while Fancred’s Jon Heyman wrote this week that the Nationals, “... are targeting [Ramos] ... for acquisition, and Tampa Bay is said to be ‘closely watching’ the Nats’ system as the teams continue to talk about a potential match.”
Meanwhile, the Nationals are going with Wieters and Spencer Kieboom in the majors, with Pedro Severino optioned to Triple-A to play every day after struggling as the No. 1 catcher while Wieters was out.
“When [Severino] does come back, if somebody gets hurt, he’s probably going to have to catch a lot again,” Davey Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the decision to send Severino down was made.
“We just want him to get better. I told [Severino] today, I really believe he’s the future here. He’s done a good job. But sitting on the bench is not going to help him. He needs to play.”
Wieters got a day off on Tuesday, in the second of three with the Pittsburgh Pirates in PNC Park, but he returned to the lineup on Wednesday afternoon, catching Gio Gonzalez, who had a 2.25 ERA in five starts and 28 IP working with Wieters, a 3.52 ERA in four games and 23 innings with Kieboom, and a 5.35 ERA in eight games and 32 2⁄3 IP with Severino as his catcher this season, before facing the Bucs.
Coming off a rough stretch of turns in the rotation, Gonzalez gave up just six hits and two earned runs against the Pirates, and he made it through six innings on the mound for just the second time in seven outings.
Gonzalez told reporters after what ended up a 2-0 loss that there was a comfort factor with the veteran backstop behind the dish guiding him through the start.
“It’s a huge boost of confidence,” the left-hander explained. “Just getting back on the same page. I like to put it like this, let him call the game, let him go out there and see what he needs to see on pitches on certain things. It’s a great back and forth talk. Boomy did a great job yesterday, it just goes to show you the steps that we’re taking, it’s positive, all positive.”
Martinez said he does believe that having Wieters back can have a positive impact on the Nationals’ starters, who’ve struggled to go deep in their outings over the last few weeks.
“Yeah, I really believe so. [Gonzalez] trusts [Wieters]. [Wieters] puts the fingers down for him and he does his thing. I think that’s huge for him,” the manager said.
Gonzalez also said Wieters was able to guide him through some mid-start adjustments at one point when he got out of sorts and he was able to apply the advice and some things that Brandon Kintzler pointed out to him effectively.
“I had a small talk with BK on certain things,” Gonzalez said, “... little things on using more of the hips, the body and then Matty kind of helped me out during the game telling me to slow down, let my arm catch up.
“All of that makes sense, but for me that’s a personal thing, which is great. It’s a step in the right direction.”
“He was able to locate when he needed to,” Wieters said. “It is big for him to get aggressive and get them swinging. He did that today. He made pitches when he had to.”
As for his own afternoon, the 32-year-old catcher just said he was happy to be back in the lineup after a long layoff.
“It feels good to get back out there,” he acknowledged.
Will the Nats attempt to bolster their catching corps with a deal for a backstop like Ramos?
Will the long-rumored interest in J.T. Realmuto finally result in a deal with the Miami Marlins?
Or will the Nationals stick with Wieters and Kieboom or Severino down the stretch and go with what they already have without parting with the prospects it would take to get either one of the catchers mentioned above?