Stephen Strasburg Starts At Triple-A:
Stephen Strasburg was just taking the mound when Davey Martinez spoke to reporters in advance of the series finale in Arizona on Sunday. Strasburg, 32, was in Trenton, NJ, so he could make his first rehab start for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
It was the first start on the way back for the right-hander, who landed on the 10-Day IL back on April 18th, retroactive to the 15th, with right shoulder inflammation.
Martinez was asked before the Nationals’ matchup with the D-backs how closely he would be following Washington’s ‘09 No. 1 overall pick.
“I’ll look at everything after our game,” Martinez said. “I just hope everything goes well. Like I said, it’s more about hoping that there’s no issues with his shoulder and he gets five innings in. We’ll see and I’ll look at all of that stuff and talk to some people after the game today and see how it went.”
Strasburg got 4 1⁄3 scoreless in, giving up two hits and two walks, while striking out six in a 75-pitch, 41-strike outing.
Martinez didn’t talk to Strasburg going into the outing, but there will have to be discussions once the 2019 World Series MVP is ready to return, because they’ll have to make room.
Erick Fedde, who started against the D-backs in Chase Field, is, obviously, pitching on the same schedule as Strasburg, but will he be bumped back to the bullpen when Stras is set for his return? Martinez said he didn’t want Fedde to worry about that, or anything else as he prepared for his start.
“We just want him to go out there and pitch, focus on today,” the manager said.
“Make my decision tough, that’s what I want him to go out there and do. So, either way he knows how important he is to us, whether he starts again or he goes into the bullpen.
“But I really like what he’s done. I really do. He’s pitched well.
“We have some decisions to make, but for today he’s going to start and hopefully he goes out there and keeps us in the ballgame.”
Fedde tossed seven scoreless innings in what ended up a 3-0 win, keeping the D-backs off the board until the Nationals’ bats could finally provided some support in the eighth.
“My job is to go out there and pitch well, and today I added something to my resume about why I should still be in the rotation,” Fedde said after the start.
About that rotation...
So, Do We Have To Take That Recent 6-Man Rotation Talk Seriously?:
We dismissed recent talk of a potential six-man rotation in D.C. on our FBB Slack channel when it came up a few weeks back, but with the prospect of Stephen Strasburg’s return, there’s more talk of the possibility, and Davey Martinez suggested on Sunday that it is an option that is being considered.
“We’re thinking about it,” the skipper said. “We talked about it earlier with Joe [Ross] and Stras not pitching at all last year, limiting their innings, especially early this year.
“Fedde throws the ball well, that’s something that we’ll have to talk about.”
Aside from managing Ross and Strasburg’s innings/workload, what are the other benefits or drawbacks of a six-man rotation in the manager’s mind?
“We have to take a look at the schedule, most importantly,” Martinez said.
“I know we got another day coming off, the 24th, and then after that we play for a stretch and then we’ll have a Monday and a Thursday off again, so we’ll take a look at all this stuff. I want to keep [Max] Scherzer, as long as he’s feeling well, keep him on his regular schedule, but guys, maybe [Patrick] Corbin could use another day, maybe Jon Lester could use a day, so we’ll keep that in mind and then we’ll go from there.
“My two two biggest concerns, like I said, Joe, who didn’t pitch all year last year, and Stras, who hasn’t pitched all year, and is coming off an injury, to make sure that we take care of those guys as well.”
He also wants to be mindful of the potential effects of once again moving Fedde back and forth between the bullpen and rotation.
“I don’t want Fedde to get hurt by moving him back and forth,” Martinez explained.
“We’ll have to sit down and make a really good decision. Fedde has done great as a starter, I really believe that he can help us in the bullpen, whether it’s a one or two inning stint, so we just have to take a look at all this stuff when it comes up.
“For right now, like I said, Fedde gets the start against the Diamondbacks today, and hopefully we go 1-0 with him on the mound.”
Narrator: They did.
Streak At Some Point?:
The longest win streak the Nationals put together in 2020’s 60-game campaign was a four-game streak in late-ish September.
So far in 2021, that’s the longest streak they’ve been able to put together, with one against the Blue Jays and three straight over the Marlins as the calendar turned from April to May.
So what’s it going to take for the team to start piling up wins, and putting together the kind of streaks they need to get out of the basement in the NL East?
Martinez, of course, stayed on brand all “1-0 every day’ when he was asked about the club’s lack of sustained win streaks before Sunday’s game.
“For me right now, we got a chance to win the series today,” he said. “I mean, let’s go out and try to win the series today and move on and get to Chicago.”
But if they are going to put together a sustained stretch of wins? How do they do it?
“Just play consistently good baseball,” he said. Our pitching has been pretty good up until yesterday. We’re hitting the ball, playing good defense, now it’s just putting a couple of key hits today with guys on base like we did the other night and continuing to do that every day.
“I still — on a positive note — I still like what guys are doing, how guys are taking their approach, we need to put that together every single day.
“Unfortunately, we play every day, so we’ve got to be ready to play every day.”
[ed. note - “You’re on your own trying to parse that last sentence.”]