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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez & Mike Rizzo on Juan Soto; starting pitching; bad defense + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo’s media availability on Wednesday...

Back of the Baseball Card:

Mike Rizzo talks often of believing in the back of the baseball card, meaning players tend to end up putting up the same sort of numbers they’ve put up throughout their careers, or the good ones tend to follow established patterns, and it came up again when one of 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies joked with him yesterday about the fact that Juan Soto might not be getting traded in real life, but with his current production-levels (.215/.365/.435 line, 12 doubles, 14 home runs, 56 walks versus 46 Ks in 69 games and 304 plate appearances heading into last night’s game), he was available from the host’s fantasy team. Rizzo said he would not recommend the move.

MLB: JUN 21 Nationals at Orioles Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“He’s going to finish the season at .300,” Rizzo explained, “he’s hitting .215 right now, so you do the math. He’s going to have a lot of hits in the next three or four months.”

Starting Something:

Going into last night’s matchup in Baltimore, “Washington’s starting pitching staff [had] not allowed an earned run in 21.0 consecutive innings dating to the fourth inning on June 17 vs. Philadelphia,” as the Nationals highlighted in their pregame notes, and Erick Fedde joked in his post game press conference on Tuesday, after tossing six scoreless vs the Orioles, about Patrick Corbin carrying it forward.

“I said it right when I came in I think today, I said, I think Corbin’s up next,” Fedde told reporters after his start.

“So I said, ‘Don’t mess it up, dude, ‘cause we’ve got a good one going.’”

Corbin gave up an early run, ending the streak, but before the second of two with the O’s in OPACY, GM Mike Rizzo talked with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies about liking recent results from the Nationals’ starting staff (and bullpen).

“I think that kind of messages are starting to get through,” Rizzo told the Junkies. “We’ve got some young kids [Jackson Tetreault] and Josiah Gray, and even Erick Fedde. The message all along has been to be aggressive, throw strikes, pound the strike zone, and let your defense help you. The defense has let the pitchers down, frankly, so far this season, so it’s a message that we have to give, and it’s a message that the pitchers have to buy into, but we need to get the help from our defense, especially our infield defense. We’ve done a pretty deep dive on our defensive efficiency, and it’s been poor to say the least.”

MLB: JUN 21 Nationals at Orioles Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rizzo did clarify he was talking mostly about the Nationals’ infield defense.

“Outfield defense we’ve found with [Víctor] Robles, [Lane] Thomas, and [Juan] Soto in the outfield, has been fairly solid,” he explained. “It’s the infield that has been disappointing. We need to shore that up. Luis [García] is having growing pains at shortstop, which we all knew were going to come, but we need to be more consistent on routine plays, make routine plays routine, and that helps the pitchers, and the biggest part of it and what it’s all about, is it helps us win baseball games.”

Given an opportunity with off days on Monday and Thursday this week to maybe switch the rotation up a bit and give some starters extra rest, Martinez kept his starters lined up as the team had them, so that Josiah Gray and rookie Jackson Tetreault would benefit after he and pitching coach Jim Hickey discussed the best plan.

“This time of year I wanted to continue to do what we’ve been doing,” the manager said in his pregame press conference last night.

“I talked to Hickey about the rotation moving forward, so I gave Jo-Jo another couple days extra, [and] Jackson, who got hit, in the leg, wanted to give him a couple days extras, so I think we’re set up pretty good for the weekend.”

Fedde got the start in the first of two with the Orioles, and Corbin the second, so that lines up Paolo Espino, Gray, and Tetreault for this weekend’s three-game series with Texas.

TKCHZ:

Mike Rizzo joined the Nats in 2006, the year after the Nationals drafted Ryan Zimmerman with the 4th overall pick (the same year Rizzo oversaw the selection of Justin Upton No. 1 overall in his role as the scouting director in Arizona), but he spent a lot of time with the face of the Nats’ franchise in his 16-year career, and he was up on the dais when Zimmerman talked to 40K+ in D.C. this past weekend as part of his No. 11 retirement ceremony. Rizzo’s takeaways from Ryan Zimmerman Weekend as a whole?

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Diamond Images via Getty Images

“It was a great weekend,” Rizzo told the Junkies. “The weather was perfect, and it was so much fun to see those guys. And everybody you bring in you reminisce, and their guards are down because they’re not with us anymore, we tell stories about you know things that happened during the season and that type of thing.

“The day that Zim was at the podium, it was a very emotional day for everybody. It brought back a lot of great memories. To me, it couldn’t have come at a better time, we needed some good vibes at the ballpark. Philly was beating our butts that weekend, and we needed some good vibes, and seeing the Desmonds, and the LaRoches, and the Werths, and that reminded us of the success that we’ve had for the last 12 years, and really for most of the 16 years that Zim has been with the Nats, so it was good timing, it was a good-feel weekend, and Zim is just — he’s a treasure, a good friend of mind, and a person you want to be associated with.”