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Washington Nationals news & notes: Joan Adon struggles in 5-3 loss to Braves; Tanner Rainey returns...

Notes and quotes from the next-to-last game of the 2023 campaign ... for the Nationals at least.


Going up against Atlanta last week in the nation’s capital, Washington Nationals’ starter Joan Adon tossed three scoreless to start, working around a single and a walk.

Given a 3-0 lead to work with after three innings, however, the Nationals ‘25-year-old starter struggled, giving up a leadoff walk, RBI double, 2-out RBI double, and a 2-run home run, which put the Braves up 4-3 in what ended up an 8-5 win for the visiting team.

“He had good stuff tonight,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“We jumped out and gave him a three-run lead, and after that he just decided he wasn’t going to attack the strike zone. Came in that inning throwing curveball-changeup, got behind 2-0, walks a guy. And then all of a sudden, he’s behind everybody. He’s got to learn: We score runs for him, the next inning is a shutdown inning. He’s got to stay aggressive.”

“The first time around the lineup, I was ahead of the count,” Adon explained. “And the second time, I was behind.”

Adon, knowing he’d get another shot at the six-time defending NL East champs, in his final outing of the year, said he thought he could compete against the best offense in the majors this season.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

“I think I have the pitches to get them out,” he said. “Every time I am ahead of them, the results are very different.”

Taking on the Braves again last night, this time in Atlanta’s Truist Park, in the next-to-last game of the season for the Nationals, Adon once again got a 3-0 lead to work with, this time before he took the mound, and he put up two scoreless innings before giving up a walk, stolen base, and RBI single in the third, 3-1.

Adon worked around a single and a walk in the fourth, then returned and gave up a double and an RBI single by Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies, respectively, 3-2, and Albies came around on a three-run home run by Marcell Ozuna later in the inning which put the Braves up, 5-3, which is how it ended.

“We jumped out early, got three runs, and then it’s about not being able to get more than four from Adon,” Martinez said after the home team evened things up in the final series of the regular season for both teams.

“Just the pitch count gets up there on him and we have to go to the bullpen right away, but we battled all night. We hit some balls hard, lined out a few times, just didn’t happen today.”

He was up to 88 pitches total, with nine swinging strikes (four on his four-seamer), and 13 called strikes (spread out among his five pitches) and 20 balls fouled off.


Adon now has 27 appearances and 25 starts on his resume at 25 years old, so what does he have to do to take the next step and start getting into the fifth or sixth or later regularly?

“He’s got to get ahead, one, and stay ahead,” his manager said.

“When he does that, he’s good, he’s effective. He just falls behind, and the foul balls, and his pitch count gets up there.”

Martinez did add that he liked Adon’s pitch mix this time out, while he was in the game.

“He had a mix of fastballs and breaking balls today. His changeup is really effective and he knows he’s got to use it, but fastball was good, he threw it in good spots, but like I’ve said, when he gets behind, and then the swings and fouls and fouls, and then the next thing you know you look up and he’s got a bunch of pitches.”


“I’m trying to think of ways to get him on the roster,” Davey Martinez said earlier this week of the possibility of Tanner Rainey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2022 and returned to the mound in the majors last night Atlanta, GA’s Truist Park.

“We might have to do that. Some of our bullpen guys are hanging on by a thread here a little bit.

“We might activate him here in Atlanta, or even tomorrow if we need him. So I want him to stay with us. He’s going to throw a bullpen again today, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”

Before the series opener with the Braves, the Nationals placed reliever Robert Garcia on the Paternity List, transferred catcher Riley Adams to the 60-day Injured List, and reinstated the hard-throwing Rainey from the 60-day Injured List.

“I kind of had a feeling,” he said of getting the late-season opportunity, as quoted by MASN reporter Mark Zuckerman. “I had spoken to Davey, and he told me that it was [possible] for this trip, which is kind of weird. This was my last outing last year, as well. In July, I threw two innings here and that was the last outing. To return here, it’s a little weird.”

Rainey made 13 appearances across four levels of the Nationals’ minor league system over the last weeks before returning to the majors, and came out throwing heat against the NL East division winners, averaging 96.2 MPH on the 10 fastballs he threw, getting up to 96.8, and mixing in some sliders 87.1 MPH average.


Martinez was happy to see him back.

“I thought we’d get him out there, and we’re down a couple runs, but it was a good part of the lineup for him, and he did really well. As we saw, he did really well, and like I knew and like we talked about with him, he’s an adrenaline guy, he’s going to come in, his velo is going to be up in the mid-90s, and his slider was really effective.”

“I’m proud of him. He worked really hard, he got to pitch in a game. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he did a great job.”