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Washington Nationals’ lineup for the 1st of 3 with the Milwaukee Brewers in D.C.

Washington and Milwaukee play two today (rain permitting) after last night’s series opener was postponed...

Cincinnati Reds v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

In discussing the Nationals’ continuing struggles on the offensive end, Washington’s fourth-year skipper, Davey Martinez, talked on Thursday night about his club taking way too many fastballs over the last few games.

“We’re really good at hitting fastballs,” Martinez explained, “... and so when they throw them, whether it’s one or two per bat, you got to be ready to hit them.

“When we’re taking them for strikes, it’s tough, all of a sudden now you’re hitting with two strikes and then it gets really tough.”

But why are the Nationals’ hitters taking fastballs?

The manager said it’s something he needs to look into, but he did offer an explanation for how such things start to happen in general, and why it causes issues.

“We hit fastballs well,” he reiterated, “... especially early in the count. I can tell you like this, from my experience, and you watch a catcher — a catcher puts down a breaking ball, and he’s waiting for a breaking ball and you get mixed up as a pitcher and throw a 96 MPH fastball. What typically happens? You throw the ball right by the guy. So sometimes I think we go up there because a guy is throwing a really good curveball or good changeup, that we start looking for pitches, instead of staying on the fastball and reacting to breaking pitches. The other way around, you can look for a fastball, get ready to hit a fastball and then if a guy throws a breaking ball, you can react to it a lot better.”

“I don’t know what goes through our hitters’ head sometimes,” Martinez said, “but I do know that we’re really good at hitting fastballs, and we need to go up there and be a little bit more aggressive, and if they’re going to throw us fastballs, be ready to hit it and square it up.

“I understand that we’re seeing a lot more breaking balls than normal ... but be ready to hit the fastball. These guys, they’re good hitters, I know if they’re ready to hit the fastballs they can make adjustments and hit everything else.”

If they’re aware this is an issue, the taking of fastballs, and looking for breaking stuff, is that an easy fix? Are the Nationals’ coaches stressing the approach they want to see with hitters behind the scenes, and if they are, and nothing’s changing, is there a point at which things have to be shaken up to try to get things going?

“I got tons of confidence in these guys, I really do,” Martinez said. “Like I said, today was a tough night. So we got to keep plugging away tomorrow, we get Milwaukee in here and we just got to be ready early. I want to see us really hitting some balls hard early in the count and taking some good swings early in the count.”

Sounds like a plan.