Joan Adon tossed 6 1⁄3 scoreless against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his third start of the 2022 campaign, but took a step back when he faced the San Francisco Giants last week in the nation’s capital in start No. 4, giving up a total of six hits, a walk, and five earned runs in four innings, over which he threw 70 pitches to the 19 batters he faced in what ended up a 12-3 loss for the 23-year-old starter and the Washington Nationals.
“He had a bunch of high-leverage situations early, his pitch count got up there,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters, “so we thought it was the perfect time,” to get Adon just a batter into the fifth.
He was perhaps, a little unsettled by the fact that teammate Lucius Fox vomited near the mound just a few pitches into the game, but he pushed past it.
“He was a little bit weirded out by it. He threw up behind the mound. It was probably very uncomfortable for him, but I thought he handled himself well,” Martinez said.
“I was just trying to stay focused out there after that incident,” Adon acknowledged, via team interpreter Octavio Martinez, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Trying to do everything I can to help the team win today.”
“He’s very mature for his age, he really is,” Martinez said before Adon faced the Giants again in start No. 5 of 2022, when asked about his composure not getting rattled by Fox’s illness.
“After seeing that his last start, especially that early in the game, the fact that he didn’t freak out on us a little bit, he just went back on the mound and got the outs we needed, says a lot about him and what he’s trying to do. So hopefully today things go smoothly for him, and once again he keeps us the ballgame and gives us 5-6 more innings.”
What, if anything, did they do differently to prepare the rookie starter to face the Giants in back-to-back starts?
“Worked on a bullpen,” Martinez said, “... worked on a few things knowing that he was going to face these guys again, so for me, once again, it’s about him controlling the strike zone, and getting ahead. When he gets ahead, Adon is very good. He’s got three good pitches, but he’s got to work ahead.”
Martinez also talked about the keys to success for Adon, and how he could avoid the big innings and rough stretches which have hurt him in his first four starts.
“Stay within the moment, don’t get ahead of himself,” the manager said. “A lot of times as a young pitcher when something happens, or the first guy walks, or whatever the first guy gets a hit, we got to get him to slow down a little bit, not get ahead of himself, and just, like I said, continue to pound the strike zone, but once he’s out of that inning he settles down a little bit and he gets after it again.
“Those high-leverage situations, it’s about breathing, it’s about staying in the moment, and just remember how he got to that spot before the high-leverage situations were.”
Adon worked around a two-out walk in the first (and his own throwing error on a bunt which ended with a 5-2 putout at home), and then a hit-by-pitch and two-out single in the Giants’ second, for two scoreless innings of work on 38 pitches, and he took the mound in the third with a 2-0 lead, and retired the first two batters he faced, before hitting Wilmer Flores and walking Brandon Crawford in front of Thairo Estrada, who lined a 95 MPH 2-2 fastball to the left-center gap for a two-out, two-run double, 2-2.
Back-to-back singles by Luis González and Darin Ruf set Flores up with a first-and-third, no-out opportunity in the fifth, and he took a walk loading the bases and ending the outing for Adon.
The Giants scored two in the fifth and four in the sixth to jump out to an 8-3 lead in what ended up a 9-3 loss in the end.
Joan Adon’s Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 86 P, 50 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
“His fastball location wasn’t very good today,” Martinez said after the game. “He threw a lot of balls, but like I talked to him earlier, his stuff is so good that he kept us in the ballgame for a little bit there, then in the fifth inning, the first two guys get on and his pitch count was up. But like I say all the time, he’s got to go out and attack the strike zone. His fastball was scattered all over the place today, and he couldn’t really get ahead, and then the pitch count just blew up on him, but we’re going to keep working with him. He’s got good stuff. I thought his breaking ball was sharp today, threw a couple really good ones, and I know he tried to throw a few more changeups than normal today, and we’re going to keep working on that as well.”
“The main thing is to try to attack the zone,” Adon said, via translator Octavio Martinez.
“Attack the zone, attack the zone as best as I can. Sometimes, I start kind of playing around with my pitches, and try to needle my way through the zone, but I got to stay more focused and attack the zone more.”
“The main thing I took from today is basically I need to attack the zone, I need to just attack the zone,” he reiterated.