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Nationals’ starter Joan Adon out early, but cleans up mechanics in 5-1 loss to Marlins

Joan Adon put in work between outings, and looked better on the mound last night in Miami.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

“He couldn’t repeat his delivery,” Davey Martinez said after Joan Adon struggled through 3 23 innings against the New York Mets in the nation’s capital, giving up three hits, five walks, and three earned runs in an 84-pitch outing in what ended up a 4-1 loss.

“He was flying open, a lot of arm-side misses, a lot of yanked curveballs, like I said, he just couldn’t really get into his body today and mechanically he just wasn’t there today.”

Adon, 23, finished the outing with a 7.03 ERA, a 5.45 FIP, 23 walks, and 24 Ks in seven starts and 32 IP on the season, over which he had a .260/.391/.439 line against.

Martinez was asked what, if anything, he would say to the rookie right-hander to keep him confident as he learns on the job in the majors, up earlier than he probably would be if the Nationals didn’t have a number of injuries to expected members of the rotation this spring.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

“For us it’s not — and we talk a lot about, of course you want to win and he wants to go out there and win, but right now it’s just about focusing on the little things with him, and a lot of it is due to his mechanics, so we just got to keep working with him. For what it’s worth, he gave us 80-something pitches. It could have been even uglier than that, and it could have destroyed our bullpen for the weekend, but he battled as far as he could battle. At a certain point I got to make a decision that he’s had enough, but he threw some double play balls which helped him out throughout, but when you’re walking that many guys, it’s tough, and your pitch count is up to 80-something in 3 23 innings it’s tough, but [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey is going to work with him, we’re going talk to him about a few things that we think might help him, and then we’ll see where he goes in five days.”

“​​I felt a little weird,” Adon told reporters, via team interpreter Octavio Martinez, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco after the game against the Mets. “But I mean, that’s part of how things go sometimes.”

“Ever since I started warming up,” he added, “I just felt like I couldn’t find the zone today for some reason. Even as I was warming up, it’s hard to explain, just couldn’t find the zone.”

Going into last night’s start against the Marlins, Martinez said the key for Adon would be throwing strikes.

“The biggest thing with him is attacking the strike zone, getting ahead early, but he has the pound the strike zone and throw strikes, that’s the biggest thing for him.”

As for the work they did on his mechanics between outings?

“Yeah, Hickey and him went and had a bullpen session, we tried to slow him down a little bit, and Hickey said he threw the ball a lot better in the bullpen, so we are hoping that he goes out there and takes what he did in the bullpen and utilizes it today.”

On the mound tonight in Miami’s loanDepot park last night, Adon and got off to a relatively good start, with three scoreless innings on 47 pitches, and he worked around a one-out hit and two-out hit-by-pitch in a 22-pitch fourth which pushed him up to 69 pitches overall.

It was still 0-0 in the fifth, when Miguel Rojas got hold of a 1-0 fastball from Adon and hit it out to left field in loanDepot for the first run of the game for either team, and a two-out hit by Jesus Aguilar ended the starter’s outing, with Steve Cishek taking over with a runner on in a 1-0 game. Adon did appear to try to make his case for staying in to his manager on the mound, but Martinez went to the bullpen.

Joan Adon’s Line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 84 P, 54 S, 9/0 GO/FO.

“I was trying to buy time to get Cishek ready,” Martinez said of the conversation on the hill, “but he tried, he tried. Which I like. But, yeah, I thought he did really well.”

“His pitch count got up there a little bit, but hey, [64%] strikes, I think his velo was the highest that he’s thrown all year, but his tempo, the way he controlled his body, his mechanics was way, way better, so I told him, ‘Hey, let’s build off of that and get you [through] the next five days.”

Adon got five swinging and 10 called strikes with his fastball, which averaged 96.1 MPH (up from 94.1 MPH average this season), and got up to 98.2 MPH, and the Marlins fouled off 19 pitches overall, running his pitch count up a bit, and leading to his relatively early exit.

“They swung, they fouled some balls off, like I said, his pitch count got up there, and for me, it was about getting him out of there on a positive. He gave up one home run, but I thought he threw the ball really well,” Martinez said.

“He was way better,” the manager said, summing things up after the 5-1 loss. “For me, it was more about — as we talked about earlier, his mechanics, right. But Hickey cleaned a lot of that up with him during his bullpen session. We talked about him staying in his legs, he did that really well today, and you saw the velo spike up. I think he was — 23 times he was at 96 or better, so to me that’s a positive and that’s a great sign.”