One New; One Not-So-New Bullpen Addition:
Davey Martinez talked back on August 14th, about the addition of 26-year-old right-handed reliever Patrick Murphy, on a waiver claim from Toronto’s Blue Jays, who drafted Murphy in the third round in 2013.
“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.”
Ranked the No. 18 prospect by MLB’s Pipeline scouts once he joined the organization, the righty made three appearances at Triple-A Rochester in the Nationals’ system before they brought him up to the majors in advance of last night’s series opener with Miami’s Marlins.
In a series of moves on Tuesday afternoon, the club recalled lefty Sam Clay, who was sent down to Triple-A on August 11th, and Murphy, optioning Gabe Klobosits out to AAA, and designating Jefry Rodríguez for assignment to make room on the big league roster for the left and right-handed relievers.
“We want to get Sam back, it’s nice to have a lefty in the bullpen,” Martinez said. “We wanted to get him back up here and we got Pat from Toronto.
“We like his fastball, he’s got a good curveball. We want to give him an opportunity and I want to see him up here, and see what he can do in our bullpen.”
Excited as he was to see what Murphy has to offer, and if Clay’s brief time at Triple-A helped to straighten him out, Martinez said he liked what he saw from Klobosits, and there’s a lot to work on for Rodríguez if he ends up staying with the organization.
“Nothing against those other guys, I think Klobo is going to be good,” Martinez explained.
“I like what he’s done. We got to get him back in the strike zone, obviously, so he’s going to go down and work on some things, and Jefry, had an opportunity here.
“We DFA’d him. Hopefully, I talked to him for a while, hopefully he clears waivers, we can get him back, get him in our minor leagues, and work with him as well at just throwing strikes.
“The biggest thing with Jefry is pounding that strike zone and getting ahead of hitters, but he’s got good life on his fastball, we wanted him to throw a little more offspeed pitches, in the zone, especially early in the counts, so hopefully we get him back and they can work with him on that.”
Brief Trips To Rochester:
Sam Clay, Tanner Rainey, Wander Suero, and others have been sent to Triple-A in recent weeks as the Nationals tried to get them back to what’s made them successful on their respective paths to the majors. So what are the Nationals hoping the pitchers are able to accomplish when they’re optioned to the club’s top minor league affiliate for a reboot?
“It’s about the pressure, having to feel like they got to go out there and really perform well,” Martinez said, in explaining how they want pitchers to work in a less pressure-filled setting.
“I talked to Klobo for a while too today,” the manager continued. “He said he’s learned a lot of stuff since he’s been here, he wants to apply it down there, and I told him, ‘That’s exactly what we want you to do.’ You still got to compete as always, but there’s less pressure down there and he can work on some of the things we want him to do.”
Klobosits put up a combined 0.56 ERA in 24 games and 32 IP between Double-A and Triple-A in the Nationals’ system before he got the call for the first time, and he was optioned out after an 11-game stint in which he had a 5.56 ERA in 11 1⁄3 IP, getting frequent work with the new-look Nats following their trade deadline deals created opportunities.
“For him, it’s — and I told him, I said, how tall he is and his arm action,” Martinez said, “he works on a downward plane, he’s got to get the down in the zone and he was up and he knew that, which was kind of nice. When I talked to him today, I wanted to hear from him and what his thoughts were, and he said he felt like his fastball was up in the zone, it was running a lot more, he couldn’t get it down, and this is something that he’s going to work on. And the other thing too: he wants to get better at throwing his slider, throwing it for strikes.
“These are things that he can go down there and work on and when we get him back up here, we’ll see where he’s at.”
Clay Didn’t Stay In Rochester For Long:
Sam Clay was optioned to Triple-A back on August 11th, after the 28-year-old southpaw, (who signed with the Nationals this winter following six years in the Twins’ system), made his MLB debut this season and put up a 5.80 ERA, 16 walks, 25 Ks, and a .302/.382/.423 line against in 46 games and 35 2⁄3 IP.
“I talked to Sam Clay,” Martinez said after the lefty went to Rochester earlier this month. “I talked to him just about attacking the strike zone, the walks with Sam were the big issue, and being more precise against left-handed hitters, knowing what he wants to do against left-handed hitters. We need him to get outs, especially against left-handed hitters.”
Left-handers had a .261/.329/.362 line against Clay before he was optioned out, with right-handed hitters putting up a .338/.426/.475 line against him.
“He’s going to go down and work on some things. You haven’t seen the last of Sam. I know that. But he’ll work to get back up here and we’ll get him back up here as soon as we deem he’s ready.”
That was quick. What did Clay accomplish in his 12 days at Triple-A?
“His balls were sinking, he was throwing a lot more strikes,” Martinez said, relaying reports he got from the Nationals’ affiliate. “His slider, which he threw a lot more to lefties down at Triple-A, which we wanted him to do, and he did that, so for me, — for him it’s getting that slider down in the zone, getting his sinker, which — he throws a heavy sinker, down in the zone, and they said he did a lot better, so I’m anxious to see him in there in action today and see where he’s at.”