“We’ve got a problem in our bullpen and we’ve got to fix it,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Washington Nationals’ relievers he used in Saturday’s 8-3 loss to San Diego gave up a total of four hits, four walks, and six runs after Stephen Strasburg threw seven strong against the Padres.
Joe Ross and Sean Doolittle kept it tied at 2-2 after Strasburg was done for the day, but the trouble started in the 10th when Wander Suero gave up two hits, two walks, and four runs.
Justin Miller gave up a hit and two runs, one earned without recording an out, and Matt Grace walked one batter and struck one out to get the Nationals out of a six-run tenth.
“It’s going to take more two or three guys in that bullpen to step up, it really is,” Martinez said, reiterating a point he’s made repeatedly over the first 25 games of the season.
“Today we saw Joe come in and do a great job, Doo comes in and does what Doolittle does.
“Suero, who’s been pretty good, just couldn’t get it done today, but all these guys, we need all these guys. If we’re going to win consistently, we need all those guys to pitch well in the bullpen, and I just want them to go out there and pitch with conviction. Know who you are, throw the pitches you need to throw with conviction and whatever happens, happens.”
Nationals’ relievers, as a group, started the day with a National League-worst 6.99 ERA, an NL-high 5.32 FIP, and a .276 BAA, also the NL’s highest.
Martinez’s message for his players?
“I’ve talked to them quite a bit, and we’ve got to stay with it,” Martinez said. “I’ve got to trust these guys, because they’re who we’ve got, and they’re going to pitch, and I’ve got to keep entrusting them — and believe me, there’s nobody that feels any worse than Suero and the guys that come in the game, but tomorrow — pump him up and see how he’s doing, and if he’s available, he’s going to be back out there, that’s the way this game is.”
If the players they have are who they’ve got, what is the solution to the bullpen woes over the first month of the season?
“Right now, like I said, today I used Ross in a high-leverage situation in the eighth inning, he did great. That’s a plus. Doo is Doo. [Tony] Sipp is starting to pitch like Sipp. He hasn’t had Spring Training, so he was going through that, so he’s going to be used in the right moments. We’ve got to get Grace back to throwing his two-seamer a lot more than his slider, he gets guys out when he does that, but the other guys — like I said, Suero, up to today, he actually hasn’t pitched bad. Yeah, he threw a ball yesterday to give up a run, but he’s been okay. But we’ve got to stick with these guys, and we’ve got to get them to pitch with conviction. That’s my biggest thing, is that you’re going to give up a hit, you’ve got big league hitters, ‘Hey, let’s go, get the next guy,’ you know, get that next guy, get him to hit a ground ball, and get us back in the dugout. Our offense is going to score runs, get us back in the dugout.”