Mr. Rogers’ New Neighborhood:
Signed in June, after the Baltimore Orioles released the left-handed starter following just four appearances back following Tommy John surgery in 2019, and a year off during the 60-game season in 2020, Josh Rogers made 14 appearances (13 starts) for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings before the Washington Nationals brought him back up to the majors.
Through three starts, the 27-year-old southpaw, who tossed five scoreless on Wednesday, has put up a 2.60 ERA, a 4.49 FIP, five walks, 12 Ks, and a .213/.290/.344 line against over the 17 1⁄3 innings he’s thrown so far with the Nationals.
“So far so good,” Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ 8-6 loss to the Miami Marlins in the series finale in Nationals Park. “Nothing seems to rattle him. He goes out there and seems like he’s under control, and he’s done well, so he’s going to get another opportunity here in five days to go back out there and start again, so I like what I see.
“The biggest thing is that he works really quick, his tempo is good. Guys are enjoying playing behind him and he brings some energy, so he’s been good so far.”
Rogers talked after the outing about his focus on just attacking hitters and throwing strikes.
“Just like... hitting is just so hard,” Rogers explained. “I don’t care what level you’re at, if it’s Little League or the big leagues, if you just watch guys, you watch guys hit BP, it’s so hard to hit the baseball, it’s so hard to square the baseball up. So, for me, I just try to simplify it, and just like I don’t want to give those guys too much credit. Are they really good? Yeah, they’re super-good. And you know that’s part of the game, but for me, I just want to challenge guys, and like I’ve told people, you look at some of my stat lines and yeah, I’ll get lit up and I’ll give up a bunch of hits, and I’ll give up a bunch of runs, but it’s not from the lack of throwing strikes or pitching around guys and that kind of thing. I’m just always going to be on the aggressive side of things.
“I think there’s times in the lineups with different guys to nitpick and try to get some swings and misses, but for the most part, and for me, the way I’m going to be effective, especially here in the big leagues, is attacking guys and not falling behind in counts, letting them get comfortable up there.
“So, it’s a lot better getting strike one than it is being 1-0, 2-0.”
Finnegan Blown Save:
Kyle Finnegan got one out with a runner on in the eighth inning and the Nationals ahead 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon, then he came back out for the ninth with a 6-4 lead, and blew the save opportunity, giving up four hits, after a leadoff walk, and four earned runs as the Miami Marlins rallied, and went on to win, 8-6.
It was Finnegan’s third blown save in 12 opportunities this season.
“He came in and got a big out for us, and then the last inning he walked the leadoff hitter, a dribbler base hit, and then after that they were staying on his fastball and hit his fastball really hard,” Davey Martinez said after another loss for the Nationals. “Just one of those days for Finnegan. Finnegan has done unbelievable for us all year long, so he’ll be back out there Friday.”
“I mean, the leadoff walk hurts there,” Finnegan said. “Give them a free baserunner to start the inning, and then I got I think four ground balls in a row after that, and just a little tough luck, a little them finding a hole.”
“What happened happened,” the closer added. “I’ve got to take what I can and learn from it. Wasn’t really able to throw my breaking pitches effectively tonight, you know, threw the wild pitch in the dirt.”
His command was off, Finnegan explained, and with the breaking balls ineffective...
“Just kind of got stuck having to challenge guys with heaters and that can only work for so long.”
Ruiz Works With Blanco:
Keibert Ruiz has been a bit banged up, after fouling a pitch off his knee shortly after he was called up and getting hit in the face with a fastball this past weekend in Pittsburgh, but he’s up and as Washington’s manager, Davey Martinez, explained over the weekend, he’s able to work closely with Henry Blanco, the Nationals’ bullpen coach, who played in 971 games over the course of his 16-year career as a major league catcher and is now mentoring catchers in the nation’s capital. “So you get to learn from one of the best,” Martinez said.
“He takes these kids and he really breaks things down, simplifies everything and really stays on them every day,” Martinez said of the work Blanco has done since joining the club as the bullpen coach when his fellow former Cubs’ coach was hired as the manager in D.C. in 2017.
Martinez really appreciates the work that Blanco does.
“These guys, before the game, you watch them out in the bullpen and he’s got a machine out there and he’s really getting them ready. Blocking balls, framing. He tries to set the machine up to where — our pitchers, and what they’re going to throw, so they work on that right away, and then he talks a lot about how to pitch guys with them, and what to look for, and what to look for in-game, if something is not working what are you going to go to? If, per se, a slider, his slider is not working, what’s the next pitch? It’s something that you’ve got to learn as the game goes on.”
Watching their progress, Martinez said, once they get to work with Blanco, is impressive.
“These guys have actually gotten better,” the skipper said of Ruiz, who was acquired from the LA Dodgers in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade at the deadline, and Riley Adams, a catcher who came over from Toronto in the Brad Hand deal.
“I mean their footwork, their footwork has been better. I notice Keibert sitting a lot lower in his stance, which is awesome, and we talk about getting underneath the baseball on pitches, and he’s done a lot better in doing that, and [Blanco is] going to continue to work with these guys.
“That’s one thing that he doesn’t — every day they have a routine and he expects them to do it, and they’ve done well with it. Henry has been an unbelievable teacher.
“He’s done it as well with catchers in the Cubs’ organization. As a player, the guys with him, he’s talked to them a lot about catching and what his experiences were about catching, so he’s been a heck of a teacher and a mentor to these guys.”