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Washington Nationals news & notes: Jackson Tetreault to IL; Juan Soto sits on the 4th; plus more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Monday...

Tetreault Lands On IL:

In hindsight, some of Jackson Tetreault’s struggles in his July 2nd start make more sense. He was apparently pitching injured. Tetreault was placed on the 15-day Injured List (retroactive to July 3) with a stress fracture of the right scapula before the start of play Monday morning.

Following Tetreault’s outing against the Miami Marlins in D.C., in which he gave up four hits, five walks, and four runs, all earned, in a four-inning, 84-pitch, 44-strike start, skipper Davey Martinez raised questions about what he’d seen from the 26-year-old right-hander, who was called up to make his MLB debut back on June 14th, and performed well enough to earn the spot in the rotation he filled over the last few weeks.

Tetreault struggled with his fastball command, and apparently wasn’t getting the action he’s used to getting on his pitches.

“We’re going to hone in on why,” Martinez said in his post game press conference, “... but his ball was cutting today, he couldn’t figure out why, I think he was yanking, his extension might be a little longer than normal. We’ll take a look at it. His misses weren’t terrible, but they were misses, he couldn’t locate his fastball today at all.”

“So his four-seamer and cutter were both cutting?” a reporter asked (paraphrasing the question).

MLB: JUL 02 Marlins at Nationals Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Yeah. His cutter is actually really not a cutter, it’s a slider, but everything was just cutting.”

“When I constantly see a pattern of something that doesn’t usually happen, you know that something’s wrong,” Tetreault said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the starter took his fourth turn in the rotation since coming up.

“You’ve got to do your best to try to figure it out, and I wasn’t able to today. To say that I’m disappointed in myself would be an extreme understatement.”

When he was placed on the IL, he acknowledged that he didn’t feel right from the start last time out.

Tetreault felt something in the back of his shoulder as he warmed up, but went ahead with the start, then afterwards he had trouble lifting his right arm and told the team something did not feel right.

“I think it’s probably something that’s been lingering for a little while now,” Tetreault said, as quoted on MASN.

“I’m just looking forward to coming back strong and healthy and believing I’ll be better when I’m fully healthy.”

Soto Sits Out On 4th:

Juan Soto felt something in his calf as he tracked down a line drive to right field in Sunday’s loss to the Marlins, and he left the game shortly afterwards. Manager Davey Martinez said in his post game press conference the 23-year-old slugger tweaked his left calf, and was taken out as a precaution.

“He said his calf was tight, so we took him out, so we’ll reevaluate and see what’s going on.”

Martinez did acknowledge he thought it happened on the play in right in the top of the 4th.

“Yeah, I looked at it, he said it just felt tight. When he went up to hit, he said it was fine, and then all of a sudden he ran and came back and said it was tightening up on him.”

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

An MRI showed everything was fine, Soto told reporters before Monday’s series finale with the Marlins.

“It’s going to be day by day,” Soto said, as quoted on “Today, I feel better and I hope I feel better tomorrow, too, and we’ll take it from there.”

MASN’s Mark Zuckerman quoted Soto offering a more detailed explanation of the issue.

“I just felt a little tight behind my knee; it was kind of my calf,” he said. “After the play, the double by [Bryan] De La Cruz, I threw the ball and something just grabbed me right there and it stays and stays and stays. And I think my other at-bat, the rundown, it didn’t feel that way. So I just took the decision to come out of the game and make sure everything’s fine before I keep going and make things worse.”

“We’re going to be good,” Soto added. “They said it’s just a little bit tight. It’s going to take a couple days to see, and then go. It all depends how I’m feeling day by day.”

Rainey’s Blown Save:

Tanner Rainey got five swings and four swinging strikes on the 13 sliders he threw (57%) in his appearance in the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game with the Miami Marlins. He took the mound with a 3-2 lead after Josh Bell homered in the bottom of the eighth, got a couple outs, then issued a walk and gave up a two-run home run on the fifth straight high-90s heater he threw to Jesús Sánchez, who hit it 373 feet to right field.

His 10 four-seam fastballs (43%) averaged 98.1 MPH, and got up to 100.3.

His manager discussed his pitch selection following what ended up a 7-4 loss in extras after Rainey blew the save opportunity in the top of the ninth, with Davey Martinez saying the 97 MPH heater on the home run was just a location miss, but the walk in the previous at-bat, in which he threw Avisaíl García six straight sliders raised questions too. Like why didn’t he try to go with his heater after getting up 1-2 and then missing with the fourth and fifth sliders of the at-bat.

“Yeah. If we keep the [home run] ball like we were trying to, away, I think he gets him right there,” Martinez said, “... and the same thing happened, he went slider, slider, slider, slider-heavy on García. After a certain point, ‘You throw 99 MPH,’ the last thing you want to do is walk a guy in that situation. He threw a slider, he walked him.”

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Martinez has talked often this season about how he’s dealing with all the losses the team has suffered through this season, 52 in 81 games before Monday’s game, but he was asked how his team, and its closer in particular, were dealing with the struggles, especially after Rainey blew a save when the club was one out, one strike, away from a win.

He’s relentlessly positive, but is his team following his lead?

“You know, I worry about — they’ve been pretty good, and we have these conversations — tomorrow I’ll talk to Rainey, and just go over what I saw transpired, and hopefully he takes it to heart, and he goes back out there. I told him, ‘Hey, you’re going to be back out there again when we’ve got the lead, or tied, whatever, but you’re going to be back out there, but keep your head up, we’ve got to keep going, we’ll battle through this,’ and like I always told him, I’ve told him this for three years, ‘I believe you’ve got good enough stuff to close games, but you’ve got to believe it in your own mind.’ We’re going to keep running him out there. All those guys, [Kyle] Finnegan, [Carl Edwards, Jr.], they’ve all done well, they really have, so for CJ today, I think I wear it a lot more sometimes than they do, because I want these guys to all succeed, and it’s tough when I see them not, but I got to make sure that tomorrow I pat them on the back and say, ‘That’s one game, we got so many more games left, keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ve been great, and just work on your control in the strike zone.”

True to his word, Martinez sent Rainey back out in a 1-1 game in the top of the tenth, and he struck out two batters before giving up a two-run home run to left field by Bryan De La Cruz which ended up the difference in a 3-2 loss.

“We got to stay positive with him,” Martinez said after the game. “My conversation with him will be, ‘Hey, you just got to keep going.’ He gets to two outs, he was throwing the ball well, and then he throws one pitch down the middle, and he got the barrel to it, I mean, he hit it hard. But like you said, he got two outs, struck out two guys, just couldn’t get that third out.”