Adon returning to start doubleheader with Espino

Needing to get through the final leg of a brutal 14-games-in-13-days stretch, the Nationals have decided to recall Joan Adon from Triple-A Rochester and start the right-hander in the opener of Friday’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Paolo Espino will start the nightcap, making left-hander Evan Lee available to pitch out of the bullpen whenever needed.

The choice of Adon may come as a surprise to those who just saw the Nationals demote the rookie eight days ago after he went 1-10 with a 6.95 ERA in 12 starts to begin the season, but the club was in a dire enough situation to necessitate his recall.

With 18 scheduled innings on tap Friday, the Nats were reluctant to use a pair of starters (Espino and Lee) who haven’t been extended yet to throw more than five innings at best. Adon, who reached the sixth inning in three of his starts, is good to throw at least 90 pitches, taking some pressure off the bullpen for the doubleheader.

“Adon’s been stretched out, so we’re going to pitch him in Game 1,” said manager Davey Martinez, adding that Adon will be the designated 27th man for the doubleheader, suggesting he’ll be sent back to Rochester after the game.

The 23-year-old made one start during his brief time at Triple-A, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five Sunday in St. Paul, Minn. Following the big league club’s instructions, he was working on using his breaking ball and changeup with more regularity.

“Hopefully he went down there and worked on those things,” Martinez said. “I talked to him today. He did say he’s been working on his changeup. He was throwing his curveball a lot, threw it a lot in his bullpen session, and was lining it up for strikes. I’m looking forward to watching him pitch tomorrow again.”

The Nationals don’t want Adon thinking too much about what this return start could mean for him in the long run, preferring he instead focus on what will ultimately make him a better pitcher, no matter if he’s pitching in the big leagues or the minors.

“He understands he’s one of our young starting pitchers that we feel like is going to be here for a long time,” Martinez said. “I explained that to him when he was sent down. Remember, you’re not the first person that’s come up to the big leagues and got sent down. It’s a learning curve. It’s a learning process. You’re going to be back up here. But this is what we want you to do when you go down. This is what we want you to work on.”

Josiah Gray, who was scratched from his last start Monday due to a long rain delay, remains scheduled to start Saturday. Rookie Jackson Tetreault, who made his major league debut Tuesday in place of the injured Stephen Strasburg, is slated to start Sunday's series finale.

With off-days Monday and Thursday next week, the Nationals will finally have a chance to reset their rotation and select the five pitchers they want to continue for the immediate future.

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