Washington’s taxi squad for their series in Atlanta this week featured right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe, left-handed pitcher Ben Braymer, a catcher, Raudy Read, an infielder, Jake Noll, and an outfielder, Andrew Stevenson.
Crowe, ranked No. 5 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the organization’s prospects, and Braymer, No. 24, were the additions before the planned three-game set with the Braves.
“I sat down with [GM Mike Rizzo] myself, [Assistant General Manager, Player Development] Mark Scialabba, who’s keeping an eye on Fredericksburg,” skipper Davey Martinez said this week when asked about the choices they made.
“We wanted a couple guys who could give us length in the bullpen if we need be, and also Jake Noll has been really swinging the bat really, really well, so we thought we’d keep him around just in case something happens.”
Martinez talked about the two pitchers who were added to the mix before the second game of the series in Truist Park.
Crowe, a 2017 2nd Round pick out of the University of South Carolina, finished his third pro season with a 3.87 ERA, a 3.15 FIP, 2.08 BB/9, and 8.40 K/9 in 16 starts and 95 1⁄3 innings on the mound with Double-A Harrisburg in 2019, then struggled at Triple-A Fresno, putting up a 6.17 ERA, a 5.64 FIP, 4.33 BB/9, and 6.83 K/9 in 10 starts and 54 IP for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.
“I really like Will [Crowe],” Martinez said. “I saw him in Spring Training. He’s got good stuff. I think he can help us here in the future.”
Braymer, a 2016 18th Round pick, posted a 2.51 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, 2.39 BB/9, and 7.86 K/9 in 13 starts and 79 IP at Harrisburg, with a 7.20 ERA, a 7.98 FIP, 5.25 BB/9, and 7.05 K/9 in 13 starts and 60 IP with Fresno.
“Braymer is a left-handed young pitcher,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s a strike thrower. He’s got good command of all his pitches. Another guy who can give us some length if we need it. Also, having one lefty in the bullpen, who knows if things change. We might be able to put him in the bullpen and have two lefties in there. I kind of like him around. I want to put eyes on them, see how they’re throwing and see how they’re doing.”
“We have a couple of games coming up doubleheaders next week,” the manager added, “... so we’ll have to make a decision what we want to do there as far as who’s going to pitch.”
The doubleheader on Saturday will be two seven-inning games, but the Nats and Marlins will play a total of five games in four days, so they’re going to have to add a starter to the mix, and Crowe and Braymer, would seem to be the likeliest options, with Braymer already on the 40-Man roster.*
[ed. note - “* = We had previously, mistakenly, noted that both pitchers were on the club’s 40-man, but only Braymer is right now.”]
Martinez was asked on Wednesday afternoon, in his pregame Zoom call, if Seth Romero, the left-hander who made his MLB debut in a relief role last week, could possibly start, but there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that.
Romero was ranked 11th on MLB Pipeline’s prospect list for the organization after missing the 2019 campaign while he recovered from Tommy John surgery that was performed in August of 2018. Martinez said that they’re going to handle him carefully this season.
“I would say if he didn’t have Tommy John surgery and he was stretched out, I would like to see him get the start but because we’re trying to limit his innings,” Martinez said, “... I think he’s going to be fine and do well just as a bullpen guy for right now. We’re weighing all our options right now to see who we could start the second game.”
Another possibility that was mentioned was Jackson Rutledge, the top-ranked pitcher in the system on MLB Pipeline’s list heading into this season, after the Nationals drafted him in the first round in 2019 (17th overall).
“I think right now I’d say no,” Martinez said, dismissing the possibility. “We want him to keep developing. He’s doing well.
“The biggest thing with Jackson is throwing consistent strikes. He’s got unbelievable stuff, we want him to be more consistent in the strike zone. And he’s getting better. He’s definitely getting better.
“We’re keeping a close eye on him. I mean, who knows, he might be a guy in September when things get cooking here, really cooking, that he could come up and help us, whether it’s a start or bullpen or something like that, so we’ll see.”
They’ll have to make a decision soon, but as of Wednesday afternoon, Martinez wouldn’t tip his hand.
“Obviously, the first game is going to be Max [Scherzer], so we’ll see who starts that second game, we’re still talking about it.”