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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez, Lane Thomas, and Patrick Corbin on opportunities; searching for fixes + more

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Highlights from the Nationals’ media availability on Tuesday afternoon and night...

Patrick Corbin Still Searching:

For a minute there the Washington Nationals and starter Patrick Corbin thought he might have found something, after he held the Milwaukee Brewers to a run on three hits in 6 13 innings of work on the mound in Wisconsin’s American Family Field, but in two starts since, the left-hander has given up 13 hits (four of them homers), six walks, and a total of 12 runs (13.50 ERA), with opposing hitters putting up a .371/.463/.771 line against him.

On the year, the 32-year-old southpaw has a 6.26 ERA, 47 walks, 114 Ks, a .282/.339/.513 line against, and 33 home runs allowed in 26 games and 141 IP.

“It’s tough right now for him,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I know it, he’s frustrated, but I got to have all the confidence right now with him and talk to him and talk him up and try to get him — I want him to leave this year on a positive note. It’s a must. He’s going to be here. He’s one of our guys. So I’m going to put him out there, I’m going to keep pushing him.”

“We got to get Patrick — get back to Patrick, get him going, we’ve got to lengthen him out, we’ve got to get him to go deeper in games,” the manager added.

Corbin got through three scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, but things went pear-shaped on him over his final two-plus innings on the mound, when he got into trouble.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“For the first three innings, he was lights out,” Martinez said, “and I enjoyed watching him pitch, he was attacking the strike zone and he needs to do that. When things go awry he’s got to remember he’s got good stuff, he’s just got to continue to attack the strike zone.”

Corbin gave up a leadoff single by Bryce Harper in the Philly fourth, and a two-run home run on a 65 MPH first-pitch curve to Andrew McCutchen, on one of his steal a strike curves. A two-out double and back-to-back walks in the fifth set up a bases-loaded situation that the Phillies cashed in, and another single, home run, and walk in the top of the sixth ended the lefty’s outing, with the runner he left on scoring the sixth and final run he was charged with.

“I mean, a lot of walks there,” Corbin said of things going wrong after the first three innings.

“I didn’t have really too much command I think starting in the fifth inning there I think the command was off, I was falling behind. Thought I threw some good sinkers, it was coming out good, just kept repeating it down in the zone, and was falling behind and obviously giving up those homers there has kind of been my issue all season, so definitely frustrating with that for sure.”

“I feel like my stuff is still there,” Corbin said of his late-start struggles, “... maybe I’m making more mistakes, they’re seeing the slider a little bit more, seeing your pitches, and I think if I can execute a little bit better I think that’s probably been the biggest issue there, and I don’t know, I’m diving in numbers all the time, trying to look at stuff to try to find a way to get better, to turn this around and it just stinks, it just hasn’t been working.”

More on Victor Robles To Triple-A:

Davey Martinez said delivering the news to Victor Robles that the Nationals were sending him to Triple-A was tough.

“This one hurt me a lot,” Martinez said. “Because I love Victor to death, and we’re going to be good when he comes back and he’s playing well.”

How did the 24-year-old outfielder take the news?

“He was fine,” the manager said. “When you’ve been with — we’ve been together for three years now, almost four years, and it was tough. It was tough for me, it was tough for him. I got a lot of respect for him as he does for me, and we talked and I told him, ‘You’re going to play here again, you’re going to play for me again, you’re going to play for the Nationals again. So just go down there and continue to work and take everything that you’ve been working on and apply it to the games down there.’”

MLB: AUG 31 Phillies at Nationals Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While the move to send Robles down does give the Nationals an opportunity to get a good look at Lane Thomas, the 26-year-old outfielder who had been leading off, and starting out there in center over last few weeks since he was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals, the fourth-year skipper said it was more about getting Robles right.

“I want to see Lane play, yeah, he’s going to get an opportunity to play, but it was more for Vic, it really was,” he explained. “I mean, like I said, I really think his future here is still bright, and we want him back here, and if he’s playing center field the way he’s capable of playing, we’re going to do good things. It’s an opportunity for him to go down there, like I said, not worry about his numbers, per se, but just go down there and start making hard contact every at bat, taking his walks, hitting pitches in the strike zone hard, not missing them, running the bases well, playing good defense, all that stuff. So he gets to go down there, like I said, he gets to go down there and relax and not worry about a whole lot and just go play baseball.”

As for Thomas leading off and playing center down the stretch?

“I think it just means I’m going to get a lot of at bats,” Thomas said after Tuesday’s loss in the second of three with the Phillies in D.C.

“Obviously the lineup is going to turn over, I think as a whole, I think the group is swinging it well right now. I know it probably doesn’t show the best with the scores, but everybody is taking good at bats, and doing stuff the right way and moving the runner, and I think that’s all that you can ask for, so I think we just keep doing it I think we’re going to get some wins, and hopefully a lot more.”

What About the Bullpen?:

Patrick Corbin gave the Nationals five-plus innings. Josiah Gray went just four innings. Erick Fedde went just 5 13 innings. Sean Nolin the same. Before that it was five from Paolo Espino.

The relatively short starts are an issue for Davey Martinez and the Nationals’ bullpen.

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

“Our bullpen is covering 12-15 outs every day,” Martinez said after Tuesday’s game. “We’re going into September now, and these guys have pitched a lot. So we’re going to have to start being careful with those guys as well. Some of those guys haven’t done it for this long a period of time. I’ve got to start being careful with them. We got to get some length out of our starters. The boys are playing hard, and we’re scoring 4-6 runs every day.

“There was a time when we could score 4-5 runs and come out with a victory. So we got to get back to that, we’ve got to find a way to get back to that, but it starts — and I’ve said this before, it starts with the starting pitching. When starting pitching gives us five or six strong innings, hopefully six innings, we’ll win some games. But we got to stay positive, I’m going to stay positive, like I said, the guys are giving me everything they’ve got, they really are, I mean, and that bullpen is coming in and as you can see, they’re throwing 25-30 pitches just because we need them. And it’s tough. It’s tough right now.”

September Call-Ups:

On the off-day yesterday, the Washington Nationals announced two additions to the roster as it expanded from 26 to 28 players for the rest of the season.

The club, “returned from rehab assignment and reinstated catcher Alex Avila from the 10-day Injured List and selected the contract of left-handed pitcher Alberto Baldonado,” the Nationals announced.

Avila, we all know.

Baldonado, the Nats noted in a press release on the roster additions, went, “(6-1) with a 2.88 ERA (13 ER/40.2 IP) ... 47 strikeouts, nine walks, and 32 hits allowed in 34 appearances,” for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Triple-A Rochester Red Wings this season before they called him up.

The 28-year-old lefty, who was originally signed by the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent out of Panama in 2009, has 11 years in the minors on his resume. He signed on in D.C. in January of this year, and he’ll be making his major league debut when he gets in a game.