You Know How Much He Likes Walks:
“You know how much I really like when they come in and they walk the first hitter of an inning,” Davey Martinez joked, in praising the Washington Nationals’ relievers’ work last Friday night in the one win of three in Milwaukee this past weekend.
If there’s one thing Martinez does. not. like, it’s when pitchers, starters or relievers, get in a game, and start walking batters rather than throwing strikes, pounding the strike zone, and challenging hitters and getting outs.
After Friday night’s game, which saw both Mason Thompson and Kyle Finnegan walk hitters, Thompson when he came back out for a second inning of work in the eighth, after getting a couple outs in the seventh, and walked the leadoff batter before he was replaced, and then the closer, Finnegan, who walked the leadoff man in the ninth before retiring three straight in a 4-1 win.
“I can honestly see these guys getting some confidence and attacking the strike zone,” he said that night. “That’s the biggest thing. I talk about this all the time with the bullpen.”
So, you can imagine he was not a happy manager after the Nationals’ pitchers in the series finale on Sunday combined to walk 11 batters, which tied the club’s record for a non-extra-inning game.
Sean Nolin walked three, Ryne Harper, two; Gabe Klobosits, three; Jefry Rodríguez, two; and Austin Voth, one.
“It’s hard to win games that way,” Martinez said in his post game Zoom call after a 7-3 loss.
“The walks that we’ve issued, the hit batsmen that we’ve issued in the last couple days, it’s a little bit alarming, so it will be a conversation with the group after the day off. We got to get them straightened out. They can’t be afraid of throwing strikes. They’ve got to pound the strike zone, I’ve told them that from the get-go. So, we’ll have a conversation with them on Tuesday, and we got to get better, they’ve got to get better, attack the strike zone like I’ve always said, and let those guys — they got a bat, they’re going to put the ball in play, they’re good hitters, but don’t give them any freebies. We’re giving them way too many freebies.”
Klobosits Has A Tough Day:
Gabe Klobosits, 26 years old, and a 2017 Nationals’ 36th Round pick, walked two batters in his first 10 1⁄3 IP in the majors, after debuting earlier this season, but he walked three in one inning in Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Milwaukee, hitting the first batter that he faced, giving up back-to-back, one-out walks, which loaded the bases, then, after two runs scored on a throwing error by Josh Bell, putting one more Brewer on with the third walk, before he got out of the inning.
Klobosits came up with a rep for being a strike thrower, so what’s going wrong when he isn’t able to throw strikes?
“I’ll go back and look at film and see if there’s anything mechanical,” Klobosits said in a post game Zoom call on Sunday, “... but at the end of the day it just comes back to attack, attack, attack, and just getting back to that is really all it is.”
That’s the main lesson he’s taking from his first run in the majors as well.
“Just learning getting ahead is a big thing, and just trusting your stuff,” he said. “Sometimes you make your pitch, and they hit it, you just got to tip your cap, that’s kind of the big thing, don’t dwell on the bad, find the good and positives out of every outing.”
Nolin Start No. 2:
Going into Sean Nolin’s second start in the majors (in the U.S.) since 2015, Davey Martinez had realistic expectations for what he wanted to see from the 31-year-old lefty, who made his MLB debut in 2013, made eight appearances, and seven starts, between 2013-15, then had Tommy John surgery in 2016, pitched in the minors and in independent ball between 2018-19, and went to Japan in 2020 before signing on in D.C. this season.
“He has no pitch count,” Martinez explained. “He’s been stretched out. He’s pitched a lot in the minor leagues, started. Just like always, I want him to attack the strike zone, use all his pitches.
“He’s got a good mix of four pitches. He keeps guys off-balance. Throws anywhere in the low-to-mid 90s, 92-93, so just go out there and let him compete. I know he’s competed.
“He’s been in the big leagues before, as we talked about before, he knows how to compete, so I’m just going to go out there and watch him, and his job as he knows is to keep us in the ballgame, and hopefully he does that today.”
Nolin gave the Nationals four innings in which he gave up six hits, three walks, and three runs, two of them after he issued back-to-back, two-out walks, and a two-run triple in the fourth, then got the final out with the Brewers up 3-1 in what ended up a 7-3 game in the home team’s favor.
“I wouldn’t say it was good, but it wasn’t too bad,” Nolin said when asked to assess his start overall. “Feel like I was able to keep the team in it for a little bit. The fourth inning got away from me a little bit.”
It was the second start in 10 days, but going forward, the lefty might get an opportunity to take regular turns in the rotation down the stretch, which would help any pitcher.
“Yeah, obviously I guess the last two were a little bit tough, day games, 10 or so days, but I feel like I was able to put in my work throughout the week and a half to prepare myself for today,” he said. “Felt fresh, so I was not happy with the result, but as long as I was able to keep the team in the game I think that was the biggest part of it.”