Davey Martinez had to rely on his bullpen for 8 2⁄3 innings of work after Nationals’ starter Sean Nolin was ejected for throwing intentionally at Freddie Freeman (twice) in the 2nd game of three with the Atlanta Braves in Truist Park on Wednesday night.
Talking after a 4-2 win, Washington’s fourth-year skipper said he might have to get a bit creative with his relievers in the series finale on Thursday night.
“You never assume that your pitcher is going to come out in the first inning,” Martinez said, “... but they manned up and we asked them — a couple guys — to pitch more than they’ve pitched before, and they did great.”
“We sat there and I talked to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, and we wanted to try to get as many innings as possible from [Patrick] Murphy,” Martinez said. “We thought he would be that guy in those block of guys, and then the game dictates who’s coming in next.”
“With that being said,” he added, “you also, in the back of your mind, as much as you want throw all the guys two innings, you really have to think about tomorrow and what you’re going to do tomorrow, and I still haven’t figured it out yet, so we’ll figure that out here tonight.”
What, if anything, new did he learn about his relievers after Patrick Murphy (2 2⁄3 IP), Andres Machado (1 IP), Mason Thompson (1 IP), Austin Voth (1 1⁄3 IP), Wander Suero (1 1⁄3 IP), and Kyle Finnegan (1 IP)?
“They were really good,” Martinez said. “Murphy threw the ball well, and he’s coming along. Like I told him, there’s a difference — he was a starter for a lot of years and he got an opportunity to pitch in the bullpen, and I talked a lot about his fastball and his breaking ball, two very good pitches. The big thing for him is throwing strikes. And the ability to throw strikes when you need to with him, and he did a great job yesterday doing that. And he’s getting better.
“Thompson, man, he came out of that bullpen with electric stuff yesterday. There wasn’t no — a lot times I see him come in and he’s 92-93, yesterday he came in and right away he threw some 98s and I thought right away he’s going to have a good inning, and he did. He threw the ball fantastic.
“For me, I think they understand what we’re trying to get out of them what we perceive of them, especially those two guys, because like I said, they were starters at one point, and coming out of the bullpen, they really have to pound the strike zone, and you can’t build yourself up as if you’re starting, all of a sudden you come out and you can throw 92-93, and then throw a pitch 95-96. You got to go out there and right from the get-go you’re getting put in high-leverage situations, and you’ve got to come out and bring your best stuff every inning.”
The Patrick Murphy Experiment:
Patrick Murphy, 26, and a 2013 3rd Round pick by the Blue Jays, was selected off waivers on August 14th, after debuting in the majors with Toronto in 2020’s 60-game campaign, and the hard-throwing righty finished up on Thursday with a 2.53 ERA, three walks, 16 Ks, and a .220/.304/.317 line against in 10 2⁄3 IP since joining the Nationals’ bullpen.
“Right now, and I told him from the get-go, I said, ‘Look, you’re going to pitch one inning, maybe one-plus innings, but you’ve going to be readily available, and he accepted that,” Martinez said. “He was a four-pitch pitcher when he was a starter. I sat down and talked to him about what our thoughts were with him, and I told him I said, ‘I want you to attack the strike zone with your fastball, in and out, up and down, and also use your curveball. I don’t want you to worry about changeups, I don’t want you to worry about sliders,’ and he looked at me and he said okay, and I told him I said, ‘I think it’s going to help you and it’s going to make you better using your fastball, and using your curveball, and he’s been great, and like I said, he’s had some outings where he pitched two innings, and kept us in the ballgame, and he’s been really good.”
As for who was available out of the pen going into last night’s game? Martinez said he’d talk to everyone after they threw, but really, he said, “I’m hoping [that starter Erick] Fedde goes a good 7-8 innings today.”
Fedde went six... and the game went into extras.
“Our bullpen was down,” Martinez said after what ended up a 7-6 loss, “as you could see.
“We only had a few guys, but like I said, these guys battled their butts off, and they pitched in a tough moment and I thought they did well.”
Lane Thomas Learns The Rules:
Lane Thomas took off from first base on a Alcides Escobar liner to right-center in last Friday night’s game against the New York Mets in the nation’s capital, and he was around second base when it was caught, and he didn’t touch second base as he made his way back to first, so the Mets threw to the bag once before the next pitch, and Thomas was called out.
“Just not re-tagging the base,” Martinez said that night, “that’s something that is taught all the way through in the minor leagues, but he understood, and in that situation right there, with no outs, you don’t even have to go that far. If you get to third base, there’s still no outs, you know, if the guy bobbles the ball in the outfield, it gets away from him, he can score easily with his speed. That’s something that I talked to him about right away.”
“It’s kind of weird, honestly,” the manager added, when another baserunning gaffe in Atlanta for Thomas led to a discussion about the little things players should know by the time they are in the majors, “because he’s played a lot, and he’s come from a really good organization [in St. Louis] that really hones in on fundamentals, and knowing the game, and when you talk to him, he didn’t realize that you have to retouch the base. He thought once you touch it, you’re good. I was kind of shocked by it. But we explained to him once you go past the base, you’ve got to retouch to come back to first base.
“He gets it. As long as it happened, it happened once, if it reoccurs, then we have an issue.”