Nationals manager Davey Martinez explained the reasoning behind tonight’s adjustment in the starting rotation as the club called up right-hander Jefry Rodriguez and gave him the start against the Miami Marlins.
Martinez said club officials have liked what they have seen the last two starts from Rodriguez, one with the Nats on Aug. 7 and an 11-strikeout performance for Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 12.
Left-hander Tommy Milone, tonight’s original starter, now moves to the bullpen and helps the rest of the relievers to remain in their roles. Milone, with his starter endurance, can go multiple innings on multiple nights for Martinez’s ‘pen.
“The fact that Jefry was pitching really well and we need some length in the bullpen,” Martinez said. “I’m using these guys for two innings, and we wanted to create some length.
“Jefry is throwing the ball well. He threw the ball well the last time he pitched up here and he continued to do that in Triple-A as well, so want to give him an opportunity.”
Rodriguez has finally felt comfortable enough to trust his changeup, which has made his fastball that much more difficult for hitters to time.
“(He has been) attacking the strike zone. I mean he’s really attacking the strike zone and able to use his changeup a lot more. He’s getting confidence with his changeup, which allows his fastball to be that much better.”
Milone has now made 130 starts in the big leagues since 2011, with four starts this season with the Nats. He has also made 20 other appearances in a relief role. With Milone as the long man in the ‘pen, Martinez can now utilize Matt Grace in critical, high-leverage moments late in games when a left-hander is needed to get a huge out or eliminate an inning.
“It’s nice to have him down there, you know,” Martinez said of Milone’s versatility. “It’s nice to have him for length. I look at Matt Grace, I like Matt, I love him, but he’s going to have to pitch in some big moments now and pitch quite a bit. So, to continue to get him out there for two, three innings is tough when I need him and I need him every day. So, I want to make sure we are careful going into the last six or seven weeks of the season.”
And now with Jeremy Hellickson to the disabled list (right wrist, retroactive to Aug. 16), Rodriguez drops into the No. 5 role for the club.
“For right now, yeah,” Martinez said. “Hellickson is on the DL, so... Like I said, he’s been doing really well. So, (Rodriguez) deserves the opportunity.”
Cordero appeared in two games earlier this season, making his major league debut Aug. 2 against the Reds. He has a 4-1 record with six saves and a 1.96 ERA in 41 games for the Chiefs. Could this be the moment Cordero gets a longer look with the Nats?
“Yeah, I really like him,” MartInez said. “He’s got an electric arm. So, the way our bullpen is right now, he fits. So, he’ll get an opportunity to pitch here and we’ll see what we got, see what he can do.”