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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on adding Patrick Murphy to mix; Tres Barrera and catching corps + more..

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters on Saturday afternoon...

New New Pitcher:

Before the second game of three with the Atlanta Braves in D.C. on Saturday night, the Washington Nationals announced that they claimed right-hander Patrick Murphy off of waivers from Toronto and optioned him to Triple-A Rochester.

“Murphy, 26, was Toronto’s No. 16 prospect per MLBPipeline,” the Nationals’ PR team noted on Twitter, “... and their No. 23 prospect per Baseball America. He went 1-1 with a 1.00 ERA (2 ER/18.0 IP) and 22 strikeouts in 13 MiLB outings in 2021.

“In 12 appearances across two MLB seasons with Toronto (2020-21), Murphy went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA.”

A 2013 3rd Round pick, Murphy debuted in the majors in 2020’s 60-game campaign, and he might be headed to upstate New York for now, but Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez, before the matchup with the Braves on Saturday, said it might not be long before he’s back in the majors.

“He’s a high-velo guy, good curveball, had some success in the minor leagues,” Martinez told reporters.

“He’s had some control issues. So we’re going to get him down in our minor league system — he’s going to Rochester now — he’s basically a two-pitch guy, can throw a changeup on occasion, but we’ll keep close eyes on him and we’ll see if we can bring him up here fairly soon, but we want to make sure that he goes down there and gets settled in.”

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Murphy was a starter for the majority of his time in Toronto’s system, before moving to the bullpen exclusively in the last two seasons, and Martinez said he is going to remain in the bullpen in Washington.

“I liked him as a reliever,” Martinez explained, “... like I said, he’s a two-pitch guy. And he throws fairly hard, anywhere between 94 to 96, he’s got a good curveball, now we got to get him in that strike zone consistently.”

The fourth-year skipper said he watched a lot of video of Murphy, but also got a scouting report from another former Jays’ prospect, catcher Riley Adams, who was acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline in a deal that sent closer Brad Hand up north.

“We watch a lot of video,” Martinez said. “We talk to different guys, we get some analytical stuff on him — Riley Adams caught him. I talked to him a little bit a little while ago about him, and he said he’s a good kid, good make-up, works hard, his fastball is live, he said he throws two different fastballs, a four-seam and a two-seam. And I said, well that’s great, we’re going to work with him, he’s here, so we’ll see what we’ve got.”

Catching Corps - Barrera The Elder:

Tres Barrera, 26, with 28 games on his resume in the majors, is the de facto leader of the catching corps in D.C. now, with Alex Avila still on the IL, and Yan Gomes out in Oakland after a deadline deal. So it’s Barrera and Riley Adams (acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline), handling the duties behind the plate now as part of youth movement which is underway in the nation’s capital.

“[Barrera has] handled himself really well,” Davey Martinez said earlier this month, when he talked about the role the catcher is in now, “and it’s something we always talk about, he’s done a great job with our pitching staff. So, and now we got a new kid Riley, who’s started learning our pitchers.”

“We’re getting younger,” Martinez said when asked about Barrera again before last night’s game against the Braves, “and that could be a good thing for us.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“And like you see Tres playing, he’s doing well. He’s doing well, he’s catching well.

“He’s been working with Henry [Blanco] every single day to get better behind the plate. He’s talked to Randy [Knorr] who is also a catcher, retired catcher, and now a coach, but he’s been talking to Randy about calling games and movement behind the plate, Randy gets to see him because he’s in the dugout, but he’s doing well. He’s swinging the bat fairly well too, which is awesome. So, just for me, like I said, we got him, we got Riley Adams, we got Keibert [Ruiz] in the minor leagues, who hopefully we get to see soon, but we wanted to get younger and we got younger and these guys are doing well.”

Ruiz, who’s likely to come up at some point this season, was, according to GM Mike Rizzo, the “main cog” the Nats were trying to get in the deadline deal with the Dodgers that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to LA, so he figures to be a big part of the future in D.C.

Martinez said on Saturday he is enjoying working with the young catchers on the roster now as they adjust to increased time behind the plate in the majors.

“For me, it’s working with them and watching them grow and watching them mature. I’ve seen that with Tres this year a lot. He’s matured a lot over a couple years that I’ve known him. But this especially, he’s getting an opportunity to play a lot. I want to see Riley catch some more, and see how he responds to everything we’re trying to teach him, but it’s been a lot of fun. For me it’s a lot of fun to work with these kids, and they’re eager to learn, which is a great thing, they’re eager to learn and try different things. And hopefully some of the things we’re trying to explain to them and teach them, they’ll grasp and they’ll use it.”

Machado Man:

Davey Martinez offered a brief scouting report on Andres Machado when the Nationals called the 28-year-old right-hander up back at the end of June.

“He’s got a good live fastball, sinks the ball, got a good slider, he’s a two-pitch pitcher, but throws the ball really well,” Martinez said. Throws a lot of strikes. I looked at his numbers.

“He doesn’t walk very many guys, keeps the ball in the ballpark. He’s only given up one home run in like 16 innings of something like that.”

“He’s done well down there, so I’m looking forward to seeing him and putting him in the game.”

In 14 appearances and 14 IP since he got the call back to the majors for the first time since he debuted in the big leagues in 2017 with Kansas City, Machado has put up a 3.21 ERA, 2 walks, 14 Ks, and a .196/.255/.314 line against. He did give up a home run in Friday’s series opener with Atlanta, but that was the first he’s allowed since coming back up, and just the second he’s allowed in 28 23 IP between Washington and Triple-A Rochester this season.

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“He’s another guy that we brought him up this year. He’s done well in Triple-A, and I like the fact that he attacks the strike zone. The kid’s got no fear,” Martinez said on Saturday.

“He’s got two different fastballs, four-seam, he throws a two-seamer, his slider has gotten a lot better, and he’s starting to throw his changeups a little bit more. We asked him to mix in his changeup a little bit, especially against left-handed hitters, and he’s got a good one and he’s starting to get comfortable with that, but for me it’s just watching him and how he goes about his business every day, and like I said, he has no fear. He goes up there and he’s not afraid to throw strikes, he attacks the strike zone, and he’s going to give me everything he has, whether it’s an inning or two innings, he just wants to participate and compete and help us win.”

Where does the reliever fit in the future? What is Martinez hoping for from the righty?

“That he continues to mature and continues to grow,” the manager said.

“I think this guy can help us in the bullpen for many, many years. He did start at one point, but I like him in the bullpen, especially if he can give us multiple innings.”