Davey Martinez expressed confidence in the Washington Nationals’ ability to fill out their starting rotation after Joe Ross made his decision to opt out of playing in the 2020 MLB campaign.
The manager of the defending World Series champions said the club would still go with the five-man rotation they’d planned on using before the season was reduced to 60 games.
“Right now we’re focusing on using a five-man rotation. As we get going we’ll see where we’re at, but we’re going to start off with a five-man rotation,” Martinez explained once things got started at Spring Training 2.0.
“Without Joe Ross,” he said, “we feel like we have two guys that can fill in with [Erick] Fedde and [Austin] Voth and we’ve also got some younger guys in camp that we’re going to take a look at, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in both those guys to come in and win a fifth starter job, so I’m looking forward to watching them throughout this Spring.”
Martinez was clear that he planned on going with five starters, and he didn’t want any of the top four (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Aníbal Sánchez) thinking the club expects more from them than taking the mound every fifth day throughout the abbreviated season.
“I don’t want to put a burden on our guys to think they’ve got to go out there and pitch after every four days,” the manager explained, “but who knows what will happen towards the end of the season.
“But for right now our focus is just letting them go, going with a five-man rotation.”
Fedde, 27, made 21 appearances (and 12 starts) in the majors in 2019, in which he put up a 4.50 ERA, a 5.34 FIP, 33 walks (3.81 BB/9), 41 strikeouts (4.73 K/9), and a .297/.369/.491 line against in 60 1⁄3 innings of work as a starter, with a .197/.286/.295 line against in 17 2⁄3 IP as a reliever.
Voth, 28, put up a 3.30 ERA, a 3.79 FIP, 13 walks (2.68 BB/9), 44 strikeouts (9.07 K/9), and a .212/.287/.397 line against in 41 1⁄3 IP over eight starts for the Nats, and made one relief appearance as well.
Martinez was asked this week what he’s watching and evaluating as the pitchers ramp back up with the July 23rd season opener fast approaching.
“Right now for me, I’m just watching their mechanics,” Martinez said.
“I’m watching consistency, strike throwing. We talk a lot with our younger guys especially about getting ahead of hitters, throwing strike one all the time and things of that nature, and right now because we’re definitely in a different time, who is going to be ready?
“And right now, Fedde threw the ball well, Voth is getting ready to go out here in the next day or so and throw in a game, so I want to see who is going to be ready, and who is more apt to be able to pitch out of the bullpen if we need them because we’re definitely going to need a long man.
“I want to see these guys continue to build up, build their arm strength and really be consistent in throwing strikes, I think that’s the biggest key.”
How big a role will past performance play in his evaluation of the Nationals’ rotation options for the 2020 campaign, since they don’t have much time for evaluation in Spring Training 2.0 before the opener?
“I look at all that stuff,” Martinez said. “With Joe opting out we have two guys that I really think can fill the void in Voth and Fedde, both. So we’ll see how this thing ends up, but I think they’re both very good, and I think they’re both ready. They’ve learned a lot over the past year, so we’ll see what happens.”