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Washington Nationals’ Joan Adon up and down in 9-4 loss to Pittsburgh Pirates

Davey Martinez talked about Joan Adon’s struggles after the Nationals’ loss in the series opener in PNC Park...

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Joan Adon, 23, got his feet wet with a start in the final game of the 2021 campaign for the Washington Nationals last October, and that brief exposure to the major league game did apparently factor in the club’s decision-making when they added him to the Opening Day roster over other options who have less time on the mound as professionals.

“I just think that Joan is farther in his professional career,” GM Mike Rizzo explained when he was asked about the final choice before the opener, which apparently came down to two of their young pitchers, Adon, and 23-year-old, 2020 1st Round pick Cade Cavalli, the top arm in the organization this season.

“[Adon is] a little bit more polished,” Rizzo continued, “and he’s had his — his feet were wet in the big leagues last year, and I think that had a lot to do with it. The command of his pitches is important to us, and just the fact that he’s pitched in the big leagues had a lot to do with it.”

Washington Nationals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

In start No. 2 of his big league career, Adon gave up four hits, one a home run, four walks, and four earned runs in 4 13 innings against New’s York Mets in the first series of the 2022 season.

“It was very, very good I thought, the only problem I saw was the walks,” Adon said when asked to assess his own outing.

Adon threw 43 pitches in the first two innings, but extended his outing with efficient frames in the third and fourth (18 total), but he was 25 pitches into the fifth and up to 86 pitches on the night before Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez went to the bullpen.

“I think it was more of me focusing in on the fact that I knew that I had to have quick innings for me to get an extended outing,” Adon said of the improved efficiency in the third and the fourth, “... get into the fifth and sixth inning without a problem. I kind of beared down, and I focused more on trying to get quick outs.”

Efficiency was an issue early for Adon again in start No. 2 of the 2022 season last night, with the right-hander giving up a solo home run and two walks (though he did strand both of the runners) in a 26-pitch first, and, after a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second, surrendering a single, a two-run home run, back-to-back, one-out hits, a two-run double, and RBI triple, in a 24-pitch third which left him at 61 pitches overall.

Adon returned to the mound in the fifth, after a 14-pitch fourth in which he worked around a two-out hit, and picked up back-to-back Ks, but a two-out walk and single ended his outing in what ended up a 9-4 loss.

Joan Adon’s Line: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 91 P, 55 S.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Talking after the game, Martinez said the problem for the young starter was, “pure location.”

“His misses were bad, and then when he threw a strike they were right down the middle,” he said.

“He was missing spots pretty much all night. He got — the last inning and a half, he actually threw the ball where he was supposed to throw it and you saw the quick outs.

“Just a fact of just being young, and we’ve really got to get him to understand how to attack the strike zone on hitters and follow the game plan.”

Adon threw 62% fastballs, which, Martinez noted after his first start this year, is his MO, and though he only got two swinging strikes with the pitch, he did get 15 called strikes with the heater, which averaged 94.7 MPH and got up to 96.3, but his manager said the curve wasn’t there, and he still wants him to throw more changeups.

“We got to get him — his breaking ball — he had no command of his breaking ball today. We got to get him — his breaking ball a little sharper, more for strikes, like we talked about. He didn’t use the changeup that much today, which he could have used a little bit more. These are all the things that we’ll sit down with him tomorrow and talk about it and work on it in his bullpen.”