In 19 appearances and 20 innings pitched since he was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline, Daniel Hudson has put up a 1.80 ERA, three walks, 17 strikeouts, and a .240/.272/.427 line against.
Hudson’s earned saves (his 4th and 5th on the season) in each of his last two outings, going two innings in each, facing seven batters in a 26-pitch appearance against the Cardinals in St. Louis earlier week, and eight in a 28-pitch outing against the Marlins in the series opener in Miami on Friday night.
Those were the third and fourth multi-inning appearances since he joined the Nationals on August 3rd, though he’d gone multiple innings frequently with the Jays before the trade.
“I’m up for anything,” Hudson told reporters on Friday, after tossing two scoreless, working around three hits.
He came on as part of a double-switch in the bottom of the eighth and stayed on for the ninth after tossing a scoreless, 14-pitch frame in his first inning of work.
“Obviously had a couple days off, didn’t throw Wednesday, and then an off day yesterday, so I felt fine,” Hudson said. “If they need me for five or six, that was totally fine.”
Hudson had a two-run lead to work with when the 32-year-old reliever took the mound in the eighth and gave up singles by Starlin Castro and Jorge Alfaro, though he left both on, and he got a game-ending double play after giving up a one-out single in the ninth.
He got the double play out of Miguel Rojas with switch-hitter Neil Walker looming on deck, but Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez, in his first game back after a health scare, had lefty Sean Doolittle warming in case he needed the southpaw to run Walker around (since he’s done most of the damage he’s done this season from the left side of the plate).
“I liked [Hudson] in that spot,” Martinez said, when asked about sending Hudson out for a second inning of work, “and right around the 30-pitch mark he was going to be done.
“We got [Doolittle] up and he was going to have the next hitter.”
“We wanted to get Walker on the right side and we got Doo up for that,” the second-year skipper explained.
They didn’t end up needing Doolittle, since Hudson locked down the ninth, and earned the save, but Martinez said he needs everyone to be ready because he’s going to match up and find the right mix to get the Nationals the wins they need down the stretch.
“I told these guys,” Martinez said, “and especially that bullpen, I said, ‘Hey, you never know, be ready,’ because there could be one guy up in the game, one guy is going to get up behind the other guy, but we’re going to match you guys up, and you guys are going to have to get big outs.”
Hudson, as he said, is up for whatever the Nationals ask him to do, and he noticed things moving around him as he came into Friday night’s game, and assumed they might ask for an extended outing.
“Once they told me I was starting the eighth,” he explained, “I kind of had the idea that I was probably going back out, especially jogging in seeing the double-switch, so just kind of get in your head that you’re probably going two and just get it done.”
Having thrown 28 pitches in the series, however, Hudson was unavailable for the second game in Miami on Saturday night, but Martinez said he had faith that Doolittle, who’s working back to full strength after a rough stretch in August and a stint on the Injured List for a right knee issue and fatigue, was good to go if needed.
“He’s good,” Martinez said before Saturday’s game. “I talked to him last night and he feels really good. We got him up last night and he was going to get in the game, the next hitter.
“So I told him, I said, hey, and he understands, where we need him in the eighth or the ninth, he’s going to be the guy.”
With a 4-0 lead after seven and a half last night, Martinez turned to Fernando Rodney, after seven scoreless from starter Stephen Strasburg, and Rodney, who threw a scoreless, eight- pitch inning on Friday, blew the lead, giving up four runs before Hunter Strickland finished off the inning.
Wander Suero needed nine pitches for a quick, 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth that sent it to extra innings, and after a six-run top of the tenth put the Nationals up, 10-4, Tanner Rainey threw a scoreless bottom of the inning to end it, without Martinez having to use Hudson. Doolittle did warm up for at several points, but didn’t end up being needed.
“Hudson was down today,” Martinez said after the second straight win, “... he threw a lot of pitches and threw twice now this week, two innings, and Doo, if the game was close, Doo was going to close today.”