Joan Adon just didn’t have it in his 3 2⁄3-inning, 84-pitch outing against the New York Mets in D.C. back on May 12th.
Adon, 23, gave up three hits, five walks, and three runs in that turn in Washington’s rotation.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said after the game Adon didn’t ever look like he was able to get comfortable on the mound, with his mechanics out of sorts in the brief start.
“He couldn’t repeat his delivery,” Martinez explained.
“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.”
“Ever since I started warming up, I just felt like I couldn’t find the zone today for some reason,” Adon said after facing the Mets, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.
“Even as I was warming up, it’s hard to explain, just couldn’t find the zone.”
Over the five days between the outing against New York and his start in Miami earlier this week, Adon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey did a lot of work to get the right-hander back where he needs to be to be successful.
“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,” Martinez said before Adon and his teammates took on the Marlins.
“So we are hoping that he goes out there and takes what he did in the bullpen and utilizes it today.”
Adon got through 4 2⁄3 innings in another 84-pitch outing in loanDepot park, holding Miami hitters to five hits and one run while he was on the mound in a 5-1 loss which left him (1-7) in eight starts, in which he’s posted a 6.38 ERA, 5.47 FIP, 23 walks, 31 Ks, and a .261/.380/.444 line against.
His manager, noting the positives from his appearance, pointed to his strike%, which was up to 64% from 52% in his previous outing.
“His pitch count got up there a little bit,” Martinez said, “... but hey, % 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 [were] way, way better, so I told him, ‘Hey, let’s build off of that and get you [through] the next five days.”
“We talked about earlier, his mechanics, right,” the manager continued, “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.”
Adon got five swinging and 10 called strikes with his fastball, which sat at 96.1 MPH on the night, (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 in the fifth.
While the results aren’t there overall, Adon is still 23 years old, and he is learning on the job in the majors a bit earlier than he probably would be if everyone in D.C. was healthy, but GM Mike Rizzo said in his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday he has liked the progress the starter has made through the first two months this season.
“He’s hard not to like,” Rizzo said.
“He’s throwing 96-98 as a major league starter at 23 years old with a good breaking pitch and a developing changeup, so there’s a lot to like about him.”
How, the GM was asked, do you keep Adon positive as he struggles at this level early in his big league career.
“I just think the secret is — and it’s a valid question — I think the secret is you have to keep communicating with him,” Rizzo added, “... and you have to tell him what he is and what he could be and how he has to keep working to get better and keep making your adjustments.
“I’ve seen great adjustments over the course of the season with him. We’ve [raised] his hands on his pre-pitch windup preparation, and he’s taken to that.
“He was tipping pitches early on in the season, we think we have put that to bed, so there’s a lot of things that he’s gone through in his young rookie season that there’s a lot to be pleased about.”
It’s not just the Nationals blowing smoke, according to Rizzo.
Other teams have expressed their thoughts on what they’ve seen from Adon as well.
“The main thing is he’s got great stuff,” Rizzo told the Junkies, “and comments from other managers that have faced him think that this guy is the real deal, with a little polishing up he’s going to be a really good one.”