In spite of the fact that the Washington Nationals finished their 10-game, three-city road trip to Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles 3-7 with a 9-13 record on the road this season, and an unsightly 16-24 mark overall, (good for 4th place in the National League East, 8.0 games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies), Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the series finale in LA that he saw signs that things were starting to turn the Nationals’ way.
“We got some guys back this road trip,” Martinez explained, “and like I said, it gives us — our lineup gets a little length now, our starting pitchers are pitching well, I see signs of our bullpen pitching well, so we go home and get a day off tomorrow, regroup, and let’s come back on Tuesday and win Tuesday.”
Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto both returned from the Injured List while the Nationals were on the road, and Trea Turner (broken right index finger) is working his way back as well.
Turner has been hitting in the cage, and he’s working on the defensive end, with throwing still an issue as he tries to get game-ready after over a month off the field.
“The biggest thing for me is game speed,” Martinez told reporters as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr when he talked about Turner’s progress towards the end of the road trip.
“Reactions during the game when the ball comes at you, what are you going to do, and how are you going to move. The other thing is around the base like double plays, transfers to his hand. Once he feels comfortable doing that I think we are heading into the right direction.”
The Nationals’ road trip wrapped up with a split with the Dodgers, who have the second-best record in the NL and were 15-4 in LA going into the four-game set, so taking 2 of 4 from Los Angeles wasn’t necessarily a bad result in Martinez’s mind.
“We were in every game,” he said, “... and I told the boys, you’ve got to keep battling, you know, keep battling, adversity sometimes is good for a club, and right now the boys don’t quit, they’re playing hard, but we’ll start — like I said I see signs of these guys starting to play together, our lineup is getting better, and it’s stretching out a little bit because we’re getting our guys back, so we just have to keep grinding and like I said, we go home Tuesday and for me we’ve got to start playing better at home consistently.”
At home in the nation’s capital, where the Nationals start a six-game homestand against the New York Mets (19-20) and Chicago Cubs (NL-best 24-14), Martinez’s squad is 7-11, after they dropped five of seven with San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals before the latest road trip.
Washington and New York have split the six games they’ve played thus far. Will the Nats get off to a good start in the series opener with the Mets tonight?