Bullpen Day To End “First Half”:
Davey Martinez talked after Saturday’s loss, the Nationals’ ninth straight overall, and ninth in a row to the Braves, about the issues and the injuries which left Washington going with their relievers in a bullpen game for Sunday’s series finale with Atlanta in D.C.
“It’s been tough,” the fifth-year manager said. “Some of the guys we thought were going to come back and help us throughout the middle of the season, it didn’t happen. Some of our younger guys are getting an opportunity to pitch. Josiah [Gray], who’s done well. We had Jackson [Tetreault] up here, he did well till he got hurt. So we’re working through some things, but we still got some really young pitchers that are doing well in the minor leagues that should be knocking on the door here fairly soon, we just got to develop them a little bit more, but I’m excited about that.”
But in the first-half finale, the club went with versatile right-hander Erasmo Ramírez in his second start of the season after he was a fill in for Josiah Gray earlier this year.
“He’s a guy that can give us 2-3 innings,” Martinez said of the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran, who started the day with a 3.52 ERA and a .293/.331/.447 line against over 38 1⁄3 IP out of the bullpen.
“He matches up well with left or right, so we’re going to go with him and we’ll see how far he can take us.”
Ramírez gave the Nationals three scoreless innings, on just 39 pitches, and left the game with a 4-0 lead.
Before the first-half finale on Sunday, the Nationals called righty Corey Abbott back up and optioned hard-throwing reliever Hunter Harvey to Triple-A Rochester a night after he gave up two hits, a walk, and two runs in an inning of work in a 6-3 loss to the Braves. But as the Nats’ skipper explained before yesterday’s game, it was as much about getting some more length in the bullpen as it was Harvey’s continued development.
“We recalled Abbott, and we optioned Harvey down. So, Abbott gives us a bunch of length that we need,” Martinez said.
Harvey, 27, landed on the IL early this season, with a right pronator strain, and he returned and made three appearances in four days before he was optioned out.
“He’s just another guy — just like [Mason] Thompson, he’s been a guy that’s been injured,” the manager said, “just kind of go down there, he’s got four days off coming up, and just kind of give him a little breather, and get him back — want him to actually pitch multiple innings, work a little bit on his breaking ball a little bit more, and then we’ll get him back up here as soon as we can.”
Nelson Cruz Sits With Quad Issue Again:
Nelson Cruz left the second game of four with the Braves in the sixth on Friday night, with a left quad issue, and he wasn’t in the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon’s game.
Davey Martinez explained before the third of four in the series they will be cautious with the recently-turned 42-year-old, 18-year veteran, especially with the All-Star Break coming up.
“I want to make sure that he’s healthy and comes out of this without any other issues,” the fifth-year skipper said.
“But he’s been smart, this whole year with me and telling me how his body feels, so if he’s available to pinch hit I’ll use him and then hopefully tomorrow we’ll see how he feels.”
Cruz pinch hit on Saturday, and he didn’t start on Sunday either.
“Nelson is still — he’s day-to-day — so we’re hoping that after the break he can get back to DH, but he’s going to try to be available today to pinch hit if we need him.”
Martinez told reporters he was hoping the offense might end the first-half on a high note in the finale with Atlanta in the nation’s capital.
“Let’s try to score some runs today and leave the break with a curly-W,” he said.
“That’s the goal. So like I said, we put some good at-bats together, we hit the ball hard, we’ve got to start doing it though with guys on base, guys in scoring position.”
Ehire Adrianza (2-run single) and Victor Robles (2-run HR) provided some early offense for the Nationals, who jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second and went on to snap their nine-game losing streak(s) (overall and to the Braves) with a 7-3 win.