WASHINGTON – The ERA for reliever Daniel Hudson is at 6.41 going into the doubleheader on Saturday here with the Mets.
But that was not a big concern for pitching coach Paul Menhart, who noted the velocity was still there for the Virginia native who recorded several big saves – and the last out of the World Series – in the memorable 2019 campaign.
“He did a lot of really good things this year,” Menhart told Federal Baseball on Friday. “We are very excited about having him back.”
Hudson, who played at ODU in Norfolk, won’t start focusing on next year until he has a chance to catch up with his wife and daughters once he gets back home to Arizona.
“It will be pretty nice to decompress and see the family and just kind of enjoy them for a few days,” Hudson told reporters on Friday. “There will be a lot of different things that I look back on, and whether or not they’re good or bad, about 2020, this season, and everything that went down.
“There’s a lot, and like I said, good and bad, you just kind of reflect on the good stuff and try to learn from all the bad stuff that happened or you did or whatnot, and you go from there and try to get better.”
Hudson, 33, who had 10 saves in 2019 for Washington between the regular and postseason and nine so far this season, realizes the average fan won’t be able to fully understand what players went through in this 60-game, pandemic season.
“Probably not,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we were playing a baseball game. Yeah, our routines were probably a lot different, it looked a lot different than in year’s past, but at the end of the day, it’s going out every night and being able to play baseball and give people 2 1⁄2-3 hours to watch a baseball game. That’s the name of the game.
“We’re lucky to be able to do it and we were able to figure it out this year and like I said, it wasn’t exactly how it always looks, but here we are at the end of the year, and we got through it,” he added.
Hudson said following protocol and making sure to wear a mask were some of the things that changed his routine in 2020.
“It seems kind of trivial to complain about that, but just the kind of small stuff like that that you’re not used to doing, and obviously spit testing every other day, and riding six different buses instead of just two for coaches and staff and players, and making sure you’re on the right bus, and sitting in assigned seats on airplanes,” said Hudson, who was in Lynchburg, Va., and was a young boy when his family moved to the Tidewater region of the state.
“Everything about this season was different. Like I said, at the end of the day we were lucky to get through the season and hopefully, we can just push through it and not have to look back on 2020 much longer.”
Drafted in 2008 by the White Sox out of college, Hudson was a starter early in his career and made 33 starts for the Diamondbacks in 2011. But after arm problems, he became a reliever in 2014 then was signed by the Nationals last year after being let go by Toronto.
Now he will be part of a team that finishes with one of the worst records of any defending champion.
While every team deals with injuries, the Nationals were hit hard as World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg was limited to two games while key reliever Sean Doolittle spent time on the IL.
There were also injuries to second baseman Starlin Castro, right fielder Adam Eaton, third baseman Carter Kieboom and Mr. Everything Howie Kendrick, among others.
“We dealt with a lot of injuries this year, not that we’re the only team that went through that, but pretty significant injuries went down. I don’t know if you can completely blame it on the short ramp-up period or whatever, but whether or not those type of things were going to happen throughout the course of a regular 162-game season, they probably were going to, but it’s hard not to think that with a normal season, a normal Spring Training, that guys probably might have been able to stay relatively a little bit more healthy,” Hudson said.
“And then obviously there was some stuff with all the different protocols, and the bus, and trying to not stay around each other all the time and it just didn’t feel like we were able to build that same camaraderie and chemistry that was so evident and so important to us last year, just because of trying to follow protocols.
“We weren’t able to go grab dinner when we got to a road city early or something like that, it’s just a lot of little things like that that can really add to your clubhouse chemistry that we weren’t able to do.”
Despite poor stats, Hudson feels healthy. He has nine saves and a WHIP of 1.27 this year.
“Knock on wood it still feels pretty good. Being able to be available every night is kind of something I pride myself on, so I was able to do that this year,” he said.
“Body-wise, I feel pretty strong and healthy, like I said, knock on wood, we’ve still got a couple of games left, but I can just kind of take that as a positive moving into the offseason, and try to get better. I’ve kind of told myself that I don’t have a bulk of innings this year, I might not have to take as much time off this year.”
Of his 26 saves in the majors, 15 have come with the Nationals in the past two seasons even though he has made just 44 appearances under Menhart and the club.
“I can kind of go straight into my offseason routine and hopefully, go from there and get a little bit better,” Hudson said.