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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on waiting for the next wave; the Ildemaro Vargas bump + club morale...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s recent media availability...

Prospects, Prospects, Prospects:

Back in mid-July, with the Washington Nationals in the midst of what would end up being a 6-19 month for the club, GM Mike Rizzo was asked why the big league roster remained full of veterans and some journeymen rather than the young up-and-coming prospects in the organization, and he said it was fairly simple: When they’re ready, they’ll be up.

“It’s because we bring players to the big leagues when they’re big-league-ready, and that’s the answer,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.

“There’s a developmental curve that belongs here. We want to make sure that these young, good prospects are ready to pitch in the big leagues and once they get here, they’re here to stay, and that’s always the equation we use when we’re talking about bringing people to the big leagues. It’s are they ready to compete at the big league level, are they fully prepared, physically, emotionally, stuff-wise for the grind of the major league season, and that’s the only criteria we use to bring up a player, be it a pitcher or a position player.”

Of course, talking about the progress of the organizational reboot back in late-May, Rizzo did look towards a future in which, “by the end of this year you could see three or four, 23 or younger pitchers in the big leagues.”

“You could see several position players that are knocking on the door to become good players in the big leagues,” Rizzo told the Junkies, adding, “... you will see some of these exciting kids in the near future, and when we do, you’re going to see these guys develop into stars right before your very eyes like you did with [Anthony] Rendon and Trea Turner and those guys.”

They’re not going to bring the next wave up until they’re ready, and individuals progress at their own pace, but with the promise of some more arms working their way up at some point this season, and comments from manager Davey Martinez this past weekend about newly-acquired, 21-year-old infielder C.J. Abrams potentially coming up in the near future, the club could provide an expanded glimpse of the future down the stretch. But, when?

“We’re keeping a close eye on some of our young guys, our prospects, and they’re doing better,” Martinez told reporters before the series opener with the Cubs last night in Wrigley Field. “They’re pitching better, they’re playing better. But we’ve got to be very careful. Like I said, we’re building for the future. We want to make sure when we bring these guys up, that they’re ready. I know we’re going to stick to that plan.

“I’ve talked to [Rizzo] a lot. Whether it’s next week, two weeks, three weeks, or next spring, we’ll make that decision when the time comes.

“But for right now, I’ve got 26 guys on the roster here, and they’ve got to go out and compete each day.”

It always comes back to 1-0 every day.

License to \ILL-de-mar-oh\:

Ildemaro Vargas, 31, played 25 games over three seasons in two stints with the Cubs, but the six-year veteran joined the Nationals’ organization back in late May and came up back on August 3rd, and going into last night’s game back in Chicago, he was 6 for 13 with one double, one walk (and no Ks), for a .462/.467/.539 line in his first 15 plate appearances for Washington, playing third and short over his first few games.

“He’s been great since he’s been here,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters during the series in Citizens Bank Park this past weekend.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

“And the guy works hard, as you can see, he plays both positions well, and he’s done well.”

“I like the fact that he’s versatile and I can use him different places,” the fifth-year skipper added.

Martinez also said he’s brought some energy to a club which needed it after they traded Juan Soto and Josh Bell the day before Vargas’s 2022 debut.

“He’s got tons of energy,” Martinez said. “He’s one of those guys that he loves to be here, loves putting the uniform on, and he always makes comments about he’ll do whatever, whatever I ask him to do he’ll do. So he’s a good guy to have around, like I said, I love these guys that can do multiple things.

“For him, he’s a switch-hitter, he swung the bat well from the right side yesterday, as well as the last couple days he’s hit left-handed, he’s swung the bat well as well.

“So far he’s been really good.”

Clubhouse Morale?:

With the four-game sweep in Citizens Bank Park, and five-straight losses overall following the trade which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego at the trade deadline, it hasn’t been easy for Washington, with the Nationals 7-25 since July 1st, and 36-74 overall going into this week’s series in Chicago.

All their weaknesses were on display in Philadelphia, with the offense struggling to score runs, and starters struggling to go deep in their outings, putting stress on the bullpen.

“After the first day, which I thought, you know, we played well,” Davey Martinez said after his team’s fourth straight loss to the Phillies, “our [first] game got cut short because of rain, and then the last three games were just not, not fun. We got to pitch better. I thought we swung the bats okay till today. But we just got to pitch better and we got to get some better starting pitching. I mean, we’re always behind. And it’s tough for morale. We do the best we can to keep these guys going, keep the guys positive.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

“As you can see, man, they play. But I mean, we’re always behind, so we got to start scoring first and get some better starting pitching.”

Asked where the club’s morale was at this point, after losing Soto and Bell, and with the Ls piling up, Martinez said, “As you can see, they’re playing hard.

“You’ve got guys like [Ildemaro] Vargas making good plays out there, Lane [Thomas] running all over the field trying to catch balls, they’re playing, like I said, for me it’s just about trying to get the lead and holding the lead for a while and making it a good, close game. We’ve done that. It’s just these last three days we haven’t done that.”

Martinez and his club dropped a 6-3 decision to the Cubs last night, their sixth straight loss overall.