Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked to Joan Adon after the starter was optioned to Triple-A Rochester back in early June, and let him know where he needed to improve his game, but he also delivered a message to the 23-year-old starter who signed with the organization out of the Dominican Republic in 2016.
“We explained he’s not the first one that’s been in the big leagues and had to get sent down,’ Martinez told reporters.
“Sometimes when they come back up they’re ready to go so we’re hoping that’s the case with him.”
“He’s going to go down there, we wanted to send him down yesterday so he can fit in the rotation every five days down there, and then work on his changeup, work on throwing his fastball and location, work on his breaking ball and throwing it for strikes, throw strike one, so everything — he’s learned so much,” Martinez continued.
“From what he told us,” the manager added, “... he learned about his body, his mechanics, and how to utilize everything, how to stay calm in high-leverage situations, so now it’s just getting him down there and getting him to relax a little bit and using all his tools.
“But like I said, this kid’s got a bright future with our organization. We love him, he works hard, so I can’t wait till he gets back up here and has a second go-around.”
When he was optioned out, Adon was winless in his previous nine outings, with a 7.36 ERA, a 5.50 FIP, 26 walks, 31 Ks, and a .290/.402/.463 line against in 40 1⁄3 IP in that stretch, and he made two starts at Triple-A around a return engagement in D.C. in a doubleheader with the Phillies he was facing again yesterday in Philadelphia.
He’d been off since June 22nd, on an organizationally approved rest period for the young starter, but Martinez said before yesterday’s game Adon could go as deep as he could.
“Yeah, we’re going to let him go,” the manager said. “I don’t want to put any limitations on there.
“He has come off a big break. He was throwing the ball well down in Triple-A, so we’re going to go see how far we can take him and from there.”
This time out, the right-hander worked his way out of a second and third, no-out jam in the bottom of the first, and a leadoff walk in the second, but a one-out walk, single, and an RBI double in the third made it 2-1 in the Nationals’ favor, after they jumped out to an early lead, and a sac fly tied things up, before a two-out RBI triple gave the Phillies a lead, 3-2.
A double, single, and RBI groundout in the fourth made it 4-2 Philly, and Adon was up to 96 pitches after a 26-pitch inning, and the Nats went to the pen in the fifth.
Joan Adon’s Line: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 96 P, 59 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
Adon got 11 swinging strikes, spread out amongst the five pitches he threw, and 13 called strikes, seven with his four-seamer (which sat at 96 and got up to 98.2) and three each on his sinker and curve, with the Philly hitters fouling off 22 pitches (including 12 fastballs) to run his pitch count up and knock him out early.
“Walks, the walks, leadoff walks, then he couldn’t command the strike zone,” Martinez said in assessing Adon’s outing after a 5-3 loss to the Phillies.
“He got behind hitters, but he’s got great stuff, we just got to continue to work with him on his command and utilizing all his pitches and getting him around the strike zone.”
Sorting things out on the mound in the majors, of course, isn’t easy, and the Nationals sent Adon down to Triple-A last month so, as Martinez said at the time, he could, “work on some things without the pressure of going out there [every] five days and competing up here.”
While he’s up, Martinez said, they’re continuing to do what they can to help Adon improve.
“Yeah, but this is conversations we have even when he goes back down that we need to do this. Today, he got from the wind-up, and his body was swaying one way and trying to throw the other way, so we told him to go out there and just pitch from the stretch, did much better. So that’s something we can obviously look at. I know [Stephen] Strasburg always pitches from the stretch, so we told him it’s not a horrible thing to do, but that’s kind of the minimal instructions that we could do while he’s here in the games, but you know, we just got to get, like I said, when he’s in the strike zone and he’s making pitches, he’s effective, and we can see that, and just all of a sudden when he starts throwing the balls — non-competitive pitches, his pitch count gets up and next thing you know he’s behind in the count and he gets hit.”
Asked if Adon would get another shot the next time his spot in the rotation comes around, Martinez said that was as-yet undetermined.
“We’re TBD right now, we’ll see in the next couple days where we’re at.”