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Washington Nationals news & notes: Dylan Floro looks to bounce back after down ‘23 campaign...

Notes and quotes on the Nationals’ new reliever...

For the first time in eight major league seasons, 32-year-old reliever Dylan Floro threw more four-seam fastballs than any other pitch in 2023, turning to it 34.2% of the time on the year, but opposing hitters had a .271 AVG on the fastball, up from .145 and .148 in 2021 and 2022, respectively. He’d previously thrown sinkers more often than his other pitches in each of his first seven seasons, but hitters put up .344 AVG on the pitch last year, up from .275 in 2022, and .215 in 2021, so he decided he had to mix things up a bit.

“I mean I wouldn’t say there was — I didn’t have a game plan for that,” Floro said when asked about his pitch mix in a Zoom call with reporters, after he signed a 1-year/$2.25M free agent deal with Washington’s Nationals last week.

“It kind of more happened,” he explained. “I think it was a little bit more of a frustrating year, so I was just trying to do something different to stop hits, weak hits from going into the hole, so trying to change some things up as I’m going along, so it’s all part of the process. I was trying do some things because I knew things weren’t going exactly how I wanted them to go.

“So I was just trying to mix things up and go for more of a strikeout, but kind of got away from my game plan a little bit more I think last year.”

Floro, who pitched for Miami and Minnesota last season, gave up a higher percentage of ground balls (54.7%), than he did in the previous two (44.6% in 2022, 49.2% in ‘21), and a career-high in hits (70 in 62 games and 56.2 IP), so he felt he needed to mix things up to attempt to change his luck.

“I think I got a big taste of that last year, just giving up a lot of weak contact that ended up finding the hole,” Floro said.

“Even if it was something with the shift, or I didn’t execute a pitch in the right spot and they were able to hit it where the shift wasn’t, or whatever. There’s a lot of things. …

“Knowing the right pitch to throw at the right time.

“Maybe just getting a pop-up with the runner on second is better than giving up a ground ball, or something like that. Just throwing the right pitch at the right time. Maybe it’s trying to execute at the top of the zone, instead of working the bottom of the zone. Just different things like that, I think I could do better.”

Floro saw his ERA climb for the fourth straight season, from 2.59 in 2020 (when he pitched for the World Series-winning Los Angeles Dodgers) to 2.81 in 2021 in Miami, and 3.02 in ‘22 with the Fish, to 4.76, to go along with a 2.96 FIP, and a .308/.363/.410 line against overall.

“In my eyes it wasn’t a good year for me, I know that,” he said. “I mean, I had some bad luck, people said, but at the end of the day I’m the one pitching. I’ve just got to figure out a way to get it done, and I know coming back this year, I’m feeling good. I’ve done a couple changes, been working on some different things, executing, executing pitches a little bit better, and with two strikes, I mean there’s little things I can change to hopefully going into next year and it will help me out.”

Floro said he’s focused this offseason on tweaking some things with his mechanics, with a focus on execution, as he tries to turn things around. His focus this winter?

“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Floro said. “There’s a little bit of mechanical adjustment I’ve got to do there. Just executing pitches, when it’s time to expand a little bit more expand a little more, instead of giving up that hit in the gap, expand a little bit more, and just kind of trying to figure out what a hitter is thinking and throwing a better pitch in the right situation.”

“I’ve been working on some different things,” he added. “Executing pitches a little bit better with two strikes. There’s little things that I can change to hopefully go into next year and it’ll help me out.”

Part of the plan for the 2024 season, is to get back to his strength, which he knows is his sinker.

“My biggest strength would probably be my two-seam. I’m a big ground ball pitcher,” the right-hander said.

“I’m probably not going to blow your doors off with strikeouts and everything like that, but I know my strengths, and my strength is usually to get early contact, weak contact, and get ground balls, and that’s probably my biggest strength is my two-seam because it creates a lot of ground balls.”

Floro joins a Nationals’ bullpen which figures to feature Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, and a hopefully healthy Tanner Rainey, so where does he fit in the mix?

The veteran said he will, of course, fill whatever role he’s asked to fill with his seventh big league club, though he, of course, likes the challenge of pitching high-leverage innings.

“I’m pretty flexible,” he said.

“It just depends on situations. When we get into Spring Training, try to see where guys are at and try to talk to coaches, kind of see what they’re thinking, but for the most part I’m pretty flexible. Yeah, I want to pitch in the back end of games, winning, I like that, the competitiveness of me, and everything, I like that, but sometimes there’s going to be a situation where I might not pitch in that situation because it’s going to be better for the team to get a W, and I’ve done that before in the past too.”