Soto Is Streaking!:
With a 400-foot, opposite field home run to left field on Saturday, Juan Soto extended three streaks. He had a hit streak, which stretched to 12-straight games, over which he was 17 for 41 (.415/.564/.732) with four doubles, three homers, 14 walks, and eight strikeouts in 55 plate appearances, and a 19-game on-base streak going back to June 17th over which he had an impressive .333/.500/.614 line in 76 PAs. We’ll get to the third streak in a second...
He also walked late in Saturday’s loss, for an MLB-high 71 free passes on the year.
Soto’s home run was his third in his previous seven games and 25 PAs.
“He’s really staying on the ball really well,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters in his post game press conference on Saturday. “I’ve said this before, when he starts hitting home runs to center field and left field, that’s who he is. And the rest of it will come. He hit the ball well today, so we just got to keep him consistent and keep him going.”
That third streak? We didn’t forget: Soto also had multi-hit games in four straight games, “matching a career-high” as the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes.
Martinez said Soto’s five-pitch, two-out at-bat against Braves’ lefty A.J. Minter in the ninth, which ended on a single to right on an 0-2 change up in the zone inside, provided Soto’s teammates with an example of how to approach a tough battle in a high-leverage situation.
“It’s just to watch him battle. Watch him get the ball — he knew that he had to get the ball up on Minter — and he got the ball up. He stayed away from chase, and he had a great at-bat. But this is what I want our young guys to understand. We have to get the ball in the zone, and when we do that, we’re typically pretty good. We hit the ball hard. So, we got to continue to work on it, got to continue to do it.”
Soto extended both of his hit and on-base streaks with a two-out single in his first trip to the plate on Sunday afternoon. The multi-hit streak?
Roster Moves - Adon To Triple-A; Harvey to bullpen; Tetreault to 60-Day:
Before start of the series finale in Atlanta on Sunday, the Nationals announced a series of roster moves:
“The Washington Nationals returned from rehabilitation assignment and reinstated right-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey from the 60-day Injured List and optioned right-handed pitcher Joan Adon to Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred right-handed pitcher Jackson Tetreault to the 60-day Injured List.
Davey Martinez talked, after Joan Adon returned from Triple-A, and gave up six hits, three walks, and four runs in four innings against the Phillies in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park last week, about the plans going forward with the club’s rotation, notably not committing to another turn in the rotation for the 23-year-old starter.
“We’re TBD right now, we’ll see in the next couple days where we’re at,” Martinez said when asked who’d go the next time the rotation spot came up.
Once they sent Adon down, Martinez explained the thinking behind the move on Sunday.
“We’re going to send Adon back just to continue his development process,” he said.
“Like I talked to him earlier, he was throwing a lot more changeups down in Rochester because we wanted him to, he didn’t throw as many, we want him to get comfortable throwing it.
“I know we’ve been talking to him about his breaking ball usage, when to use it, so it’s just part of his development.
“We had a great conversation this morning, he understands. Like I said before, he’s a big part of our future, but we want to get him going, get him consistent with all his pitches, and the most important thing, as I always say, is throwing strikes, you know, location on all his pitches, so he’s going to go down there, he’s going to pitch on Wednesday down there, and we’ll get him going and see where he’s at in a couple weeks.”
With Adon going down, there was a spot in the majors open for Hunter Harvey (once they moved Jackson Tetreault — already on the IL with a stress fracture of the right scapula — onto the 60-Day IL), the hard-throwing righty who’d tossed 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings between Triple-A Rochester and the Florida Complex League Nationals on his rehab assignment, and 2 2⁄3 scoreless for the big league Nats back in April, before he landed on the IL with a right forearm strain.
Rather than more rehab outings in the minors, Martinez said the club thought Harvey was good to return to the majors.
“He’s been throwing the ball well, and he’s thrown a lot,” the fifth-year skipper said, “... so we thought, ‘Hey, might just bring him here, give us another good arm in the bullpen.’ Like I said, he’s been throwing the ball really well, he felt great, we had no issues, so we decided to bring him here.”
The 27-year-old, 2013 1st Round pick by the Baltimore Orioles, who was selected off waivers by the San Francisco Giants in November 2021, then selected by the Nationals off waivers in March of this year, has plenty of potential (and a 97 MPH fastball he threw 81.1% of the time early in 2022).
“He’s a guy that has a big arm,” Martinez said.
“The biggest thing with him is throwing strikes. Since we’ve been here, [pitching coach Jim] Hickey has done some things with him and he’s been great. Down there [in the minors] he was throwing a lot of strikes, his split is really good, as well, so we’ll give him an opportunity again to come up here. When he was up there the last time he threw the ball well before he got hurt, so hopefully he continues to do that.”
As for the decision to shift Tetreault to the 60-Day IL, Martinez said it was just a matter of the reality of the right-hander’s situation.
“We felt like it’s going to be a little longer than we thought,” he explained. “It’s still the same, same thing, we just want to progress him, want to get him stronger, so we thought the best thing for him is to give him some time and we’ll get him ready when we can.”