ADON AND IN-GAME ADJUSTMENTS:
Joan Adon threw 93 pitches to the 26 batters he faced in 4+ innings last week on the road in PNC Park, giving up eight hits, a total of six walks, and four earned runs before he was lifted from what ended up a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“He just couldn’t get the ball in the strike zone,” Washington’s manager Davey Martinez said after the abbreviated outing by the Nationals’ 25-year-old righty.
“He fell behind. He kept going back to breaking balls and breaking balls, not really attacking hitters, so we’ll sit down with him in the next couple days, and get him back squared away.
“His stuff was fine, he just couldn’t find the strike zone when he needed to.”
“Just bad. Bad overall,” Adon said in assessing his own start, as quoted by MASN’s Bobby Blanco.
Joan Adon's 2Ks in the 1st. pic.twitter.com/ktFCx26SZn— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2023
“How can I tell you? I don’t even know how to explain it,” Adon continued.
“I felt good, but they were just hitting my pitches. They were seeing everything very well.”
Martinez said it was a matter of Adon trying but struggling to make in-game adjustments.
“He’s got to understand that he’s got to make adjustments,” Martinez explained.
“For an inning or two there he did start throwing his fastballs a little bit more, which was great, but then again he still — he got to two strikes and then he started throwing more breaking balls again, but he’s got to understand, the fastball plays sometimes and when your other stuff you can’t get over you’ve got to utilize your fastball.”
Joan Adon's 4th and 5th Ks.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2023
Thru 3 pic.twitter.com/fhHsv2s8O1
Back on the mound last night, this time in the nation’s capital, Adon worked around a few hits and a walk in four scoreless, but after he erased a leadoff single with a double play in the fifth, the visiting Chicago White Sox rallied with two down, with Tim Anderson singling, Andrew Benintendi walking, and Luis Robert, Jr., who’d K’d swinging the first two times up, hit a three-run blast to left-center field on an 0-1 curve down in the zone which went 398 ft. in Nationals Park.
Luis Robert Jr. put it on the board! pic.twitter.com/JshBunb519— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 19, 2023
Adon returned to the mound in the sixth, but gave up three straight hits and a run before he was lifted from the outing, and one of the runners he left on came around to score to make it five earned runs allowed in 5+ innings pitched, over which he walked two, struck out five, and threw 87 pitches overall, 58 strikes in what ended up a 6-1 loss to the Sox.
“Just location,” Martinez said of Adon’s struggles later in his outing last night. “Just missed locations. Hung a breaking ball to [Robert], who’s got a lot of home runs. In those situations, like we talked about, high-leverage situations, he’s got to make pitches. He started off throwing the ball really well, getting ahead. His pitch efficiency was really good. Then all of a sudden he got in trouble. 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 also talked about the fact he got Robert, Jr. swinging the first two times up, with a 2-2 changeup the first time, and an 0-2 fastball the second time, before hanging the curve, which the manager said was another example of the pitcher sometimes over-thinking a bit.
“I think it’s just over-thinking,” he explained.
“[Robert, Jr.] obviously couldn’t see his fastball/changeup. They tried to throw something different. He can hit an in-zone breaking ball, I’ve seen it done. So, we just got to — like I said, in those situations, you got to understand what you’re trying to do and execute.”
“During that at-bat, Keibert [Ruiz] came up and we talked about it, and we had a game plan, and I actually executed that game plan,” Adon said, when he spoke with reporters.
“He just had a better game plan and was able to execute better than I did.”
The young starter was clear he wasn’t happy at all with the overall results.
“Four runs in five innings is not a good outing,” he said.
In the 6-1 loss, the Nationals had six hits total, went 0 for 6 with five left on base, and only scored a run when Dom Smith homered off starter Mike Clevinger in the bottom of the 9th, and Smith took some time to admire the blast, a 419 ft. shot to right-center, then tossed his bast aside, which the White Sox’ starter didn’t appreciate.
Smith made his way around the bases, then made a sharp left when he heard chirping from the mound as he crossed the plate.
The benches (and the bullpens) cleared, though nothing but harsh words were exchanged between the two teams.
Mike Clevinger/Dom Smith Drama. pic.twitter.com/CJTkP6rCdT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 19, 2023
Dominic Smith said he wasn’t sure why Mike Clevinger was upset on that home run in the 9th. Smith said he heard him say something as he rounded third and when he crossed home he wanted to know what he was saying.— Bobby Blanco (@Bobby_Blanco) September 19, 2023
“Dom stood there and watched the home run,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said of the two sides getting into it a bit. “He started saying some words to him, I don’t know what he said, it’s just part of the game now, right? I’ve seen a lot worse. Guys standing there for a minute half the time, throw their bats 40 ft. in the air. So, it’s part of the game.”
Mike Clevinger explains why he got into it with Nats' Dom Smith pic.twitter.com/Uo0cteNop7— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) September 19, 2023
“He ran around the bases,” Martinez continued, “Clevinger said some words, and next thing, you know I saw Dom turn around. Our team ran out there, we stopped it. We didn’t want any trouble, so got everybody in the dugout and finished the game.”
THE TREVOR WILLIAMS ?:
In three starts this month, Trevor Williams has raised some questions about whether or not he’s hit a wall in his first season as a full-time starter since 2020’s COVID campaign.
Williams, 31, split time between the bullpen and rotation in ‘21 and worked mostly out of the bullpen in ‘22 before signing on as a starter with the Nats on a 2-year deal this past winter.
Williams has failed to get through the fifth inning in 7 of 11 second-half starts, including all three of his outings this month, posting a 14.81 ERA (18 R, 17 ER in 10 1⁄3 IP), 10.03 FIP, and a brutal .472/.525/.793 line against in that stretch.
“For me, he’s just got to keep the ball down, work down,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters going into the third of Williams’ three September starts.
“Work side-to-side, in and out. Look, he’s done a lot for us, he really has. The guy has taken the ball every five days. Hasn’t done that in a while, so I’m really proud of the fact that he maintains himself, he keeps himself in shape, he works hard every day, and he gives us those innings every five days, but in order for him to be successful, he’s got to work in and out, keep the balls down, and utilize his changeup and slider.”
Martinez was clear going into that outing that it wasn’t a question of Williams putting in the work, but he did raise concerns about the workload catching up with the veteran.
“He works really hard. He does,” Martinez said. “And it’s long — when you haven’t done it [in] a while, it’s a lot of innings that we’ve asked him to accumulate. I think moving forward, he understands what he needs to do this winter to get a little bit stronger, to sustain what he needs to do to pitch every five days, but he’s done a great job, he really has.”
Williams threw 70 pitches in two innings later that day, giving up five hits, two walks, and three earned runs before his manager pulled the plug on the pitcher’s 29th start of the ‘23 campaign.
“He was missing,” Martinez said, “but not missing by much, and he got himself in trouble by falling behind. I think he fell behind five of the first seven hitters, you know, so that’s tough. He’s got to pound the strike zone. He’s got to get ahead, stay ahead, and really get the ball over the white part of the plate. He had a lot of pitches. He wanted to go back out there, and I said, ‘This time of the year I’m not going to do that to you. That’s a lot.’ And like I said, he’s been a workhorse for us all year, and I wasn’t going to send him out there.”
A day later, Martinez said he planned to talk to Williams about the next step for the starter.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” he said. “But we’re going to talk to him today and see how he’s feeling. The indication is he wants to finish the season. But I’m going to talk to him and get a really good sense of where he’s at. And where we think he’s at. He’s given us a lot of innings. This is the most innings he’s pitched in a long time. I’ll talk to him, see what we get and then move forward from there.”
Williams’ 141 IP overall are the most he’s thrown since 2019, the last year he was a full-time starter, so the club and the pitcher have a decision to make about his final few turns in the rotation.
“This is actually a first for me and how we used him,” the Nationals’ sixth-year skipper said.
“We did give him a little bit of a break early on, but it’s a lot. Like I said, he hasn’t done that.
“He’s been a guy that bounced up and back. I know he’s maybe opened some games, started some games in a spot-start, but never pitched a full season here since I think ‘18 or ‘19 if I’m not mistaken.
“But here’s a guy that for me just took the ball every five days, never complained, he was ready to go every five days, fights me all the time to stay in there, even if he’s behind. He wants to finish up. He understands how important it is to keep our bullpen fresh, but he wants the ball. But we’ve come to a point in time where we’ll have a conversation with him. We might be able to do something different with him just to give him a little breather because he has pitched a lot.”