Joan Adon made two appearances out of the bullpen for Washington’s Nationals in July, but returned to the majors as a starter for ten outings beginning with a six-inning start on August 5th in which he was perfect for five before he tired in the top of the sixth and gave up three hits and eventually three earned runs.
“The last time he was out there - I know he was in the bullpen - but he threw the ball a lot better,” Nats’ manager Davey Martinez said after Adon’s first start of the year in the majors.
“He went down [to Triple-A] and worked on some things, and now he came back up here and polished up a lot of things.
Joan Adon's 2Ks in the 4th.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 5, 2023
6Ks thru 4. pic.twitter.com/Wm4YL3k1YU
“He did everything we asked of him to do, and that was awesome.”
“It was awesome to see him go out there, understand what he was trying to do and attack hitters, and do it well.”
Adon, who debuted in the majors in the final game of the 2021 campaign, at 23, made 14 starts in the Nationals’ rotation in 2022, struggling to a 7.10 ERA, a 5.11 FIP, 5.43 BB/9, 7.65 K/90, and a .290/.392/.481 line against in 64 2⁄3 IP. His first start of the ‘23 season showed his manager and teammates what he’s capable of doing at his best.
“Today, for me, was a perfect example of what he really can do. If he stays engaged, I can see him helping us win games here,” Martinez said.
Adon told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, he did not know what would have happened had he been perfect through six innings, because he had issues with leg-cramping late in his outing.
“I don’t know what would’ve happened, because in that sixth inning, I started cramping,” Adon explained.
“That’s when I started feeling it. But no one wants to come out of a perfect game.”
Adon and the Nationals’ staff worked to get his hydration issues in check over the next few outings, and eventually did. He ended up making 10 starts this time around, posting a 6.56 ERA, a 4.65 FIP, 4.18 BB/9, 8.36 K/9, and a .294/.374/.479 line against in 46 2⁄3 IP in his starts.
After what was arguably the now-25-year-old right-hander’s best appearances of the season on August 25th in Miami, Adon’s manager talked about the growth he’d seen since last year.
“Even when he was coming out of the bullpen for us earlier,” Martinez told reporters, “I saw a big difference in him.
“His demeanor, his maturity, and he went back down [to the minors], he worked on some things we asked him to do, and now he’s getting an opportunity to pitch every five or six days, and has done well.”
“He attacked the zone, and when he does that he’s really effective, and he pitched really well for us and we were able to get a win.”
While he was up and down in his next few outings, Martinez said in early September he was happy with the contributions Adon made to the rotation.
“He’s thrown the ball a lot better for me since we had him last year, and every time he’s come up it seems like he seems like he’s gained a lot more confidence, so that’s a good thing,” the manager said.
Joan Adon's 4th and 5th Ks.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2023
Thru 3 pic.twitter.com/fhHsv2s8O1
He finished the season winless in his last six, however, (0-4, with the Nationals 1-5 in his starts), with a 7.48 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 5.86 BB/9, 9.11 K/9, and a .350/.441/.553 line against in Adon’s final 27 2⁄3 IP on the mound.
His ability to slow things down when he gets in trouble, his pitch selection, and making in-game adjustments were areas of his game Martinez suggested Adon needed to work on in the last month of the season.
“That’s some of the things that we talk about with him, when he gets in trouble, he’s got to slow the game down a little bit,” Martinez said.
“Things go on in your head, as you know” he said at another point, of Adon over-thinking a bit at times on the mound, “and he starts really trying really hard to make the adjustments, and when it doesn’t work then he starts over-thinking about things.”