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Coming off an impressive return to the majors by Joan Adon earlier this month, Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters their club was going to go with a six-man rotation over the next few weeks as they play out the remainder of the 2023 schedule.
“We actually decided we’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” he explained. “Adon’s going to be plopped in that spot. Just because with Jake Irvin (26), with [MacKenzie] Gore (24), even Josiah [Gray] (25), I know he could finish out [the season], he could throw a lot more innings, Trevor Williams who’s been a reliever, we want to make sure that we keep their innings intact, and understand what we’re trying to do, not only for now but the future. So it made a lot of sense to us to bring Adon up here, give him an opportunity to pitch, but also stretch out our pitchers so that we can manage their innings a little bit better.”
The goal, Martinez said, is fairly simple, to keep everyone healthy down the stretch, with a watchful eye on their individual workloads so they’re hopefully healthy going into the 2023-2024 offseason and able to build towards next year when the club hopes to be back in the mix, competing for a postseason berth.
It’s something they’d discussed behind the scenes for a while at that point.
“It’s something that we talked about for a couple of months now,” Martinez elaborated.
“Knowing that this time will come, but we thought this would be the best time. Especially this time of year. I’ve always said after the All-Star break, the time that they’ve had off coming back, the August — we call them the dog days, but it’s kind of the grind of getting through August, we thought it would be a good time to get another starter here and go to that six-man rotation.”
Martinez and his coaches weighed their options, looked at the data, and came up with the plan they decided to implement.
“We dug into a lot of different things,” he explained. “I talked to the medical staff, strength coaches, obviously [Pitching coach Jim] Hickey, [Bullpen coach] Ricky [Bones]. We really tried to hone in on what will be the best for the guys. Stretching them out 10-12 days, I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing because they’ve got to (ramp up) themselves. They’re going to sit and then they gotta figure out if we let them try to throw two bullpens. So I didn’t really necessarily want to do that. But maybe shorter stints, six days, seven days, even eight days would definitely work.”
The goal, of course, is to get the young starters through a full schedule, keep them healthy, and with a pitcher like Williams, who spent the last couple years moving between the ‘pen and rotation, build him back up cautiously for the second year of his 2-year/$13M deal with the Nats.
“Like I said, we’re gonna try to stretch them as far as we can to the end of the year,” the sixth-year skipper continued.
“We’ll see how it goes. We really will. Like I said, we’re building a team for the future and for many, many years. And I want to make sure that, especially with guys like Jake and MacKenzie that both had been injured in the past, make sure we take care of them.”
Is the move to a six-man rotation in D.C. the right thing for the starters? Did the Nationals make the right decision?