Mr. 1-0 Every Day Wants To Chip Away:
Davey Martinez was on brand when he spoke after the Nationals’ loss to the Marlins in their series finale on Wednesday, stressing the positives after a homestand that began with a 24-8 loss to the Padres.
Martinez’s club bounced back after back-to-back loss to San Diego, and Washington won 3 of 4 to end the seven-game stand in D.C., taking the third of three with the Friars, then their first two games with Miami.
“After a dismal start to the second half, we end up 3-3 on this homestand,” Martinez said in his post game Zoom call, “and we got a day off and now we head to Baltimore. If we win 3 out of 4 games every time we’re going to be in great shape. So, let’s — I told the guys to keep our heads up, have a good day off, and we’ll go after it again and go 1-0 on Friday.”
“We got to go into Friday against Baltimore and just go 1-0, and focus on that game and then go from there,” he added.
While he’s focused on going 1-0 every day and concentrating on the task at hand, he’s also delivering a realistic message to his team when it comes to working their way into the mix in the NL East.
“I think that Davey said something like we’re trying to make up one game on the Mets a week for the next stretch of games,” Josh Bell shared. “So you know, it’s on to Baltimore now, and we got business to take care of there.”
Does Deadline Chatter Matter:
With the 2021 MLB Trade Deadline fast approaching, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said that he would take a two-pronged approach to the club’s preparation, exploring possible deals to add to the roster, or sell off assets depending on how the club plays in the days leading up to July 30th.
“We still have some games to play before we make those kind of decisions, but I think a dual path is probably the most advantageous for us right now,” Rizzo explained earlier this week, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“We’ll have our lines in the water on the buy side. We’ll also prepare some type of sell scenario if we have to.”
So do the players feel pressure to show the Nationals’ brass that it makes sense to add to its roster so they can make a run down the stretch?
“Yeah, I mean, I feel like obviously we want to win on a regular basis,” Josh Bell said.
“If we can have more support we’re all for it, but I also think that the group of guys that we have in the clubhouse right now, we almost expect to win on a regular basis as it is. So, we really don’t have any control over what [Rizzo] will do, what Davey’s thinking about, but in regards to the guys 1-9, you know, we’re expecting to win on a regular basis.”
Rizzo called upon the stars of the team to step up amidst all the injuries the club is dealing with and carry them through the second-half.
“The more your core guys get hurt, the more pressure is put on your star players,” Rizzo said in a pregame session with beat reporters, singling out Trea Turner and Juan Soto in particular. “And that’s where your Treas and your Juans have to come to the forefront and really carry this team.”
A reporter asked Turner about that quote, throwing Ryan Zimmerman’s name into the mix of players who need to lead the team back into contention.
“I think we’ve kind of done that or thought that since day one,” Turner said of stars stepping up. “We know that we’re a big part of the team and if we want to be good, that we’re going to have to contribute. It’s a team game, and you need everybody to step up, but some days guys are going to have it or not and some days you’re going to be the guy to step up. So the more consistent that we can be, I guess, me, Juan, and Zim are the three that you mentioned, I think that benefits the ballclub. So, yeah, I think we take that on, and we’ve wanted to do that since Day 1.”
What Does Davey Want To See From Clay & Suero?:
Signed to a major league deal this past winter, following six seasons in the Minnesota Twins’ system, over which he never got the call to pitch in the majors, 28-year-old Sam Clay made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals earlier this season, and through Wednesday’s game, Clay had a 5.34 ERA, a 4.39 FIP, 12 walks (3.38 BB/9), 24 strikeouts (6.75 K/9), and a .304/.375/.407 line against in 32 innings pitched.
Clay has a .237/.308/.288 line against vs left-handed hitters and a .355/.425/.500 line vs right-handed hitters on the season.
Martinez talked before the series finale with the Miami Marlins about what he’d like to see from the southpaw in the second half.
“Attack the strike zone, pitch in against lefties, you know, I want him to pitch in more,” Martinez said, “... because he’s got a heavy ball, a heavy sinker, and I want him to throw in. He’s a 70% ground ball guy as well. And I want him to utilize his sinker, both against righties and lefties, and throw in, not throw everything away against lefties.”
When they acquired him, the Nationals noted that in 2019, Clay, “... led all of Minor League Baseball in groundball rate (71.3%).”
He’s currently sitting at a 59.8 GB% 39 games into his major league career.
Martinez was asked about Wander Suero too, after the fourth straight outing and fifth in the last six in which the reliever gave up at least one earned run.
On the year, the 29-year-old reliever, who missed time this season with an oblique issue, has put up a 5.27 ERA, a 5.25 FIP, eight walks (2.63 BB/9), 27 Ks (8.89 K/9), and a .273/.336/.500 line against in 33 games and 27 1⁄3 IP.
“Suero, he had the oblique, he started off good, he had the oblique thing, and he’s just got to learn how to put away guys. He gets a lot of hitters 0-2 and is not able to put hitters away right away, so I know he’s been talked to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, Hickey has been working with him on what to do in two-strike situations, against righties and against lefties, he’s got — his changeup has been really, really good, I know he talked a little bit about his mechanics with Hickey, and what he wants to do in order to repeat his delivery every pitch. But we need those two guys. Moving forward I mean, they’re going to be two big pieces to our bullpen.”