Washington’s starter for the series finale with Milwaukee in D.C. was up in the air until after the second of three this weekend in Nationals Park.
“We’ll see how today goes,” manager Davey Martinez said before Saturday’s game. “Let’s get through today and then we’ll know more.”
Paolo Espino and Evan Lee seemed to be the two pitchers under consideration for the spot, as Martinez noted, but he wanted to see how the game with the Brewers played out.
“Like I said,” Martinez told reporters, “... we’ll get through today. Both Espino and Lee, if we need them today, they’re going to have to pitch today, and then we’re going to have to do something else.”
He didn’t use either of the two pitchers in the game on Saturday, and he announced his decision in his post game press conference.
“We’ll start Espino tomorrow, and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez said, “but I was hoping that we didn’t have to use those guys today, but we did and we came up with a win, so all in all, like I said, it was a good day.”
Espino was the right choice, Martinez said.
“He’s throwing the ball well. We looked at everything, and I wanted him to start against them tomorrow, and then we’ll see how long he can go, and then we’ll go with whatever we’ve got left.”
Espino, 35, has posted a 2.03 ERA, a 3.06 FIP, four walks, 20 Ks, and a .228/.257/.317 line against in 20 games and 26 2⁄3 innings pitched out of the bullpen this season before the right-hander got the nod to start again.
“We’re going to let him go. He dictates how much he’s going to throw, he really does. If he’s going good and he’s throwing strikes, he can maybe go 3-4, maybe 5 innings, I’ve seen him do it before, so we’re just going to ride him and see how far he can take us.”
Espino ended up going into the fourth. He tossed two scoreless innings on 23 pitches total to start the series finale with Milwaukee in D.C., but one- and two-out doubles in the third got the Brewers their first run, with Tyrone Taylor lining a 3-0 slider to left with one down, moving up to third on a fly ball, and scoring on a two-out double to left by Willy Adames, 1-0.
Espino got two outs into the fourth, on 53 pitches, two shy of tying his season-high, when skipper Davey Martinez went to the bullpen for Lee, who ended up allowing three hits and two runs in 2 1⁄3 innings.
Paolo Espino’s Line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 53 P, 34 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
“They pitched well,” Martinez said after what ended up a 4-1 loss. “Paolo started off, and he did really well. And then Lee came in and did really well, and then he got smoked by a line drive. He’s doing well. He’s a little sore, but everything’s good. He’s going to be bruised up for a couple days. But our pitching was good.”
The decision to go with Espino as a long opener/starter?
“I just wanted to give — I wanted to see the matchups,” Martinez explained. “What they were going to do. They set their lineup up left-right-left for the first, so I kind of like that. I thought that’s what they would do, they did it, and Paolo is relatively good against both, because he throws so many different pitches, and then I wanted to get Lee in that bottom of the order first to get him going and then let him face the top, and like I said, he did well. Really well. So I was very pleased on both those guys.
For Lee, the young starter, who’s pitched in relief before in the minors, and is being asked to do so again in the majors, Martinez said he’s handling it well.
“He’s been good. Like I said, he’s been throwing bullpens in-between, and throwing lengthy bullpens so we keep him stretched out, but he’s been good. So just between him and Paolo they did a great job. Between those guys, and those other guys, they had a quality start today, so that’s all you can ask from them.”