Davey Martinez teased the possibility of Ben Braymer starting the nightcap of the Sunday doubleheader with Miami all week before finally announcing the Nationals’ left-hander as the starter for the fifth game of five this weekend in Marlins Park.
“Yeah, it will be Braymer in Game 2,” Martinez said late on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, the third-year skipper was asked what he’d be looking for from the 26-year-old, 2016 18th Round pick, who started in 52 of 75 career appearances in the minors, then worked out of the bullpen in his first two big league outings earlier this season.
“For me, I want him to go out there and just relax and just get one out,” Martinez explained.
“When he’s out there just go pitch to pitch and work on just getting outs and focus on the here and now with him. He’s going to be fine.
“He’s got three pretty good pitches, I told him to use them all.
“[Kurt] Suzuki is going to catch him and Suzuki’s got experience, so I said just follow Suzuki’s call, and if there’s something you want to do that he calls, ultimately you control the game and you know who you are and go out there and do what you do best.”
The key to his success, Martinez said, is the same as it is for everyone.
“The biggest thing is strike one, getting ahead of hitters,” he said.
“He’s really good when he gets ahead of hitters. We’ll watch his mechanics. I know he’s talked to [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart] about doing some different things.
“He’s done some different things. He’s typically a strike thrower. He pounds the strike zone. I’d like to see him attack the strike zone on both sides of the plate, not just live away, so we will watch all those things.”
Braymer held the Marlins hitless through 3 2⁄3 innings, with just two walks allowed, before he gave up a two-out single to right by Jesús Aguilar, who was stranded at first when Matt Joyce sent a fly to right to end a 21-pitch frame.
Braymer, who was on a 60-75 pitch count according to his manager, came back out at 69 pitches in the fifth and worked around a one-out walk in a 17-pitch frame which ended his outing.
Ben Braymer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 86 P, 47 S, 4/5 GO/FO.
By that point, the Nationals were up 11-0 in what ended up a 15-0 win in which Braymer got his first MLB “W”.
“It was exciting,” Braymer said after the game. “Obviously I knew throughout the duration of this road trip that I’d have a chance to start one of these doubleheader games, and to get the opportunity today was really cool, and I was excited about it and felt good leading up to first pitch and felt good throughout my warmups and routine and all that stuff, and they guys did a good job of making me feel comfortable, making me feel supported, and I think it showed.”
“He was outstanding,” Martinez said. “When he throws strikes he’s effective. His fastball sneaks up on you.
“Good breaking ball, really good changeup. We talked to — [Suzuki] and him had a game plan coming in about utilizing all his pitches, using both sides of the plate, he did it really well. We wanted to get him that win, we talked to him, we watched him.
“He looked really good. We weren’t going to let him go more than 90 pitches, so he finished up at 86 pitches, but he did really well.”
“Braymer was — he’s pretty much the story today,” Suzuki said. “He came out and threw strikes and obviously we get some runs, and he came out and really established himself like, ‘I’m going to throw strikes, I’m going to get you guys out quick, get us back into the dugout to score more runs,’ and he kept the tempo of the game great, kept them off-balance, and that’s really all you can ask for.”
Braymer got six swinging strikes overall, and 15 called strikes, mixing in an 88-90 MPH fastball, aa 76-78 MPH curve, and a 78 MPH changeup.
Ben this is a baseball game not an airport pic.twitter.com/voXVnMSeW3— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) September 20, 2020
“He had a really good changeup, big curveball, mixed in some heaters, but for the most part he was really just kind of moving the ball out,” Suzuki said.
“There wasn’t any predictability to him, got a lot of mishits in the zone, which is good, so not much chase, it was more of in-zone, off-contact, kind of soft contact and things like that, so that’s what you like to see, and shoot, I caught him in Spring Training once, and here I caught him a couple times too out of the bullpen a couple times, and he looked great. The guy throws strikes and he looks comfortable out there.”
“I think I only shook Zuk off once of twice maybe and it was just because I had a conviction in a certain pitch,” Braymer said, “...but other than that, we were on the same page all night and he did a great job, and I’m sure it’s sometimes difficult for them when they have a new guy up and especially when they’re having their first start, so I thought he did a really good job of just keeping me locked in and sticking with me throughout the longer innings.”
“They had a great game plan,” Martinez said of the work Braymer and Suzuki did together.
“He talked to him. They sat down before the game. I know Kurt talked told him he’s going to utilize all his pitches, even if he fell behind, his changeup is effective with that lineup and they did that. He threw a couple nice changeups when he was behind in the count, and they worked well together.
“When you’ve got veteran catchers like we’ve got, and they understand and hey kind of help the young pitchers keep their composure. I think Kurt did that with Braymer tonight.”