One goal for the Nationals as the season winds down is getting starts for younger pitchers and seeing how they can do in pressure situations. This will allow manager Davey Martinez and his staff to get the hurlers that spent a lot of time at Triple-A the valuable experience in big league games and see if they can get through those high-leverage situations for future opportunities.
Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, 25, has started eight games and made 11 total appearances. He has 3-2 record but also a 5.33 ERA. Right-hander Erick Fedde, 25, is 2-3 with a 5.02 ERA. Fedde had a no-decision Monday night in Miami, going 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on only two hits with six strikeouts, but with three walks on 93 pitches.
Martinez reflected on what he needs and expects from the young starters as they vie for a spot in the rotation in 2019.
“I think they both need understand the walks kill them,” Martinez said “It really does. For Fedde, the other day, it was just the leadoff walks. And also pitching deep in the ball games. Nowadays, everybody talks about the third time through the order and what decision you have to make. But I’m starting to see like as a whole that the relievers are getting beat up all around the league. You look at the Dodgers and what they have to go through because they thought that third time through the order the relievers should come in.
“But we’re really going to take a good look at that stuff. I know when we were good for a month or six weeks or so, our starting pitchers were going seven innings and you could get guys to take breaks gives guys off in the bullpen and keep them fresh. When pitchers are only going five, six innings, it puts a big stall on your relievers.
“We really got to take a look at that. Some of these young players actually got to understand that that’s a part of it. I know there are some days when you could only pitch five innings. They got to understand their job is to try to get 21, 22 outs per start. If you can do that, it’s going to be really, really helpful for us in the long run.”
Martinez was asked about flipping the script and starting a reliever as an “opener” like the Tampa Bay Rays have done this season. He believes that his starters are so good that they would rather start the game with those top pitchers instead of holding them back for the later innings.
“That, to me, all depends on who you have in your bullpen,” Martinez said. “You have guys that could throw multiple innings because if you don’t, and these guys come in and they give up four or five runs the first inning, then you’re not going to put a starter in right away. You’re going have someone come in and clean it up, which has happened before. And then all of sudden, your starter comes in ... it’s almost like blowing a starter when they could have keep you in the game maybe five or six innings.
“Some guys have been successful, others think that they will run into the same problems. It’s definitely something we looked at, but we feel like our starters start the game and keep us in the ballgame as long as possible.”