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Washington Nationals’ Joan Adon takes step back in loss to LA Dodgers…

Joan Adon wasn’t around long in the series opening loss in Nationals Parl.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Joan Adon struggled to repeat his mechanics and command his pitches in his start against the New York Mets earlier this month (3 23 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 3 ER), but the Nationals’ 23-year-old starter and Washington’s pitching coach Jim Hickey worked hard in the lead-up to his next outing and he bounced back with a solid turn against the Marlins in Miami (4.2 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 1 ER).

“He was way better,” manager Davey Martinez said after what ended up a 5-1 loss for Adon and the Nats. “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.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“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.”

“His pitch count got up there a little bit, but hey, 65% 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.

“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,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies the day after Adon’s start against the Marlins last week.

“He’s hard not to like,” Rizzo said at another point.

Going into his ninth start, Adon’s manager said he was hoping for more of what he saw from the starter on the road in Miami.

“I want him to go out there and do what he did his last outing,” Martinez said, “... which is attack the strike zone.

“We talked about him being 65% in the strike zone, not walking any guys. These guys do walk, so he’s got to throw strikes and just go from there.”

Martinez said he wasn’t concerned that Adon would press or try to do too much going up against the NL West-leading Dodgers and LA’s intimidating lineup.

“We’ll give him the same message we give him all the time, ‘Hey, it’s pitch-to-pitch, right?’” Martinez told reporters.

“Just make your pitches, attack the strike zone, don’t get caught up in who you’re facing, they still got to hit, and he’s got electric stuff, so just stay in the strike zone.”

Adon struggled to do that, however, walking four in 4 23 IP, over which he also gave up seven hits and six earned runs, leaving the game after throwing 92 pitches to 25 hitters before Martinez pulled plug on his outing.

Joan Adon’s Line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 92 P, 58 S, 4/4 GO/FO.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

He did generate seven called strikes, five with his fastball (which sat at 94.3 and got up to 96.9), and Adon got 16 called strikes, 11 with his four-seamer, while throwing 63% strikes, but the Dodgers’ hitters fouled off 18 pitches, which along with the four walks ran him up to 92 pitches in under five innings of work.

“The thing I want to take the most out of today ... it’s one of those things that’s never happened to me,” Adon said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “It’s a great lineup to face, and as the game progressed, it was hard a bit. I think it’s more of being consistent and trying to locate my pitches much better.”

In the fourth and fifth innings, Adon retired two batters on three and the four pitches, before two-out walks in each frame led to rallies by the Dodgers, who drove both the free passes in.

“It’s not easing up,” Martinez said in assessing why Adon struggled to end those innings before the damage was done, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato. “It’s just the focus like, ‘Hey, I’ve got two quick outs.’ Then sometimes you’ve got to sit back down, take a deep breath and say, ‘Hey, I need to throw strike one here and try to get a quick out, just finish the inning.’

“That’s a young mistake. But those are the things that he needs to get better at because his stuff was good.”

“I think it’s a little bit of a focus thing, where he thought he got two quick outs and he can ease up,” Martinez added. “You don’t ease up. You want to get that third out as soon as you can.”