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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on seeing lots of breaking balls; Victor Robles returning + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s pregame media Zoom call with reporters...

Throw More Fastballs, Please?:

In once again discussing how Washington Nationals’ hitters are making solid contact fairly consistently even if it hasn’t resulted in big hits when they’ve needed them, Nats’ manager Davey Martinez talked on Monday afternoon about what was behind all of the ground balls his team is hitting, and he pointed to the way his club is being pitched as part of the issue.

“We are seeing a lot more breaking balls than any other team,” Martinez said. “And we are hitting those balls fairly hard, and they have been on the ground.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe not more than “any” other team, but going into play on Monday, they were seeing a lot of breaking balls, 11.6% curveballs this season, which was the third-highest percentage among MLB’s 30 teams. They were seeing 51.1% fastballs, which was tied for 15th in the big leagues. Sliders? 18.4%, 25th of 30. Cutters? 6.0%, 21st. Changeups? 12.0%, 11th. Sinkers? 0.9%, tied for 25th.

“So, like I always talk about, we’re a good fastball hitting team. We’re not getting as many fastballs, but we are getting fastballs. We need to be ready to hit those,” Martinez added.

“Those are the ones that we usually hit, those are the ones that we square up, and if you look at our numbers, those are the balls we usually get elevation on.”

Uh, someone look up launch angle on fastballs for us?

Welcome Back, Victor!:

Victor Robles, 24, hadn’t played in a game since May 19th in Chicago, when he rolled his right ankle rounding first on a muddy Wrigley Field infield, but he was reinstated before Monday’s series opener in Atlanta’s Truist Park. Davey Martinez did not pencil the center fielder into the lineup for the first of four with the Braves though.

“He’s not going to play today,” Martinez explained. “I want him to go through some outfield drills and stuff like that, but he’ll be available to come off the bench if we need him. He said he felt great.”

Robles made one rehab start at Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, going 1 for 2 with a double and two walks, before he was reinstated.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

“He did well. He hit a double, scored from second, stole a base. Had a couple walks,” the manager said.

“I was able to watch some of the clippings, he ran fine, so that’s good. But I just want to get him out here, and all baseball activities, so I can get eyes on him, and then we’ll go from there.”

So, if he checks all the boxes, will he be back in the lineup for the second of four with the Braves?

“Yeah, he’ll be back,” Martinez said. “If everything goes well today and I watch him, then like I said, I got good feedback from everybody down there, trainers, I talked to him yesterday, he said he felt good to go. Everybody is off today in the minor leagues, so I felt — if he was that good to get him here and get a workout and let him take batting practice and go through all the baseball activity, and then if he’s good he’ll be available to play today and hopefully he’ll play tomorrow.”

Robles got a pinch hit appearance in the ninth, and sent a fly to right for the first out of the inning.

Fedde Almost Redde? [ed. note - “I shouldn’t allow that misspelling, but no one reads these anyway.”]:

Erick Fedde, who tested positive for COVID-19 while the Nationals were on the road earlier this month, is back with the team, and building towards a return, though it won’t likely be this Wednesday, when the Nats need a starter after both Jon Lester and Patrick Corbin got starts in on Saturday, in the doubleheader with Milwaukee.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

“Fedde is here,” Martinez said before the opener in Atlanta. “He’s going to throw a bullpen again today, and then we’ll reevaluate and see what we got then. I’m assuming that — I think he’s going to end up having to go somewhere and pitch in a game before we bring him back, I don’t want to have any setbacks with him, he was throwing the ball well and we got to get him stretched out again.”

Fedde threw in a sim game on Saturday, going four “innings” on 65 pitches, so it would be a quick turnaround to start a game on Wednesday when he hasn’t pitched in live game action since May 16th.

“It would definitely be short rest,” to go on Wednesday, Martinez said. “So we’ll figure out Wednesday here probably in the next day, but I don’t want to hamper what [Fedde] has been doing, and like I said, I know he threw four innings the other day, simulated, 65-70 pitches.

“We want to get him up five times and see where we’re at from there.”