With streak now over, Floro able to appreciate scoreless run

Dylan Floro didn’t want to talk about it. He reluctantly agreed to be interviewed after Saturday’s game only when told the questions would be generic and not specifically about the streak.

“I’m getting ahead. I’m getting strike one. Not walking guys,” he said when asked what he liked about the way he was pitching. “Getting quick outs for the most part. And the defense is making unbelievable plays.”

Davey Martinez cringed when Floro’s name came up during his postgame press conference that evening, as well.

“I’m not talking about it! I’m not going to be the guy!” the Nationals manager said with a smile. “He’s really good right now.”

In case you didn’t know, baseball players are just a bit superstitious. So as much as they enjoyed watching Floro toss 21 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run, the Nats didn’t want to have to actually address the streak in any kind of formal way.

So you can guess what the reaction was Sunday afternoon when the streak finally ended, with Floro giving up the two eighth-inning runs that flipped the Nationals’ one-run lead over the Mariners into a one-run deficit (and ultimately a loss).

“I might’ve jinxed it yesterday,” Martinez sighed.

Whether he gave up two runs because the baseball gods made it happen or he simply misfired on a few pitches for the first time in a long time, Floro’s streak was nothing to scoff at. It was the longest single-season streak by a Nationals reliever in club history, not to mention the longest streak by any major league reliever this season.

And the 33-year-old, finally free to discuss it once it was over, certainly appreciated what it meant.

“Putting up zeroes gives the team the best chance to win,” he said. “And being a bullpen guy, that’s kind of the job: To go out there and get the team back in there so we can score runs. To go on a little streak there, knowing I was putting up zeroes for the team, that’s probably the best thing to take from it.”

This has been an important bounceback season to date for Floro. Owner of a 3.20 ERA over a strong nine-year career, he struggled in 2023 with the Marlins and Twins, finishing with a 4.76 ERA in 62 appearances.

The Nationals signed him over the winter for $2.25 million, believing he was a good bounceback candidate and hoping he could help deepen their bullpen. So far, the signing has paid off as well as anyone could have hoped. Floro has teamed up with Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan to give the team its best late-inning relief trio since Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle all arrived via trade in July 2017.

Floro isn’t an overpowering reliever. He has only 19 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings this season. But he consistently induces weak contact with a sinker-slider combo that usually leaves hitters lunging and unable to drive the ball.

“I’ve seen him do this. He’s been really good for different teams,” Martinez said. “When he’s healthy, he can get outs for us. And he’s getting really big outs for us.”

Floro has pitched a lot for the Nationals, appearing in 25 of the team’s first 51 games, tied with Derek Law for most on the team. And he had already pitched in each of the first two games of the weekend series, posting a zero each time.

But with the Nats leading 5-4 heading to the eighth Sunday, and with Harvey deemed unavailable after pitching three straight days himself, Martinez summoned Floro to make his third straight appearance. And things quickly fell apart for him, with a leadoff double by J.P. Crawford later followed by RBI singles from Julio Rodriguez and Ty France.

Floro didn’t blame his rare struggles on his recent workload.

“I think it’s more just execution-wise,” he said. “Just consistency of pitches. I threw a couple good sliders. I think just on those two-seamers, I left them more middle instead of off the plate. They stayed more on the plate.”

His ERA skyrocketed from the appearance, from 0.35 to 1.03. He suffered his first blown save of the season and was charged with his first loss.

In the moment, Floro was upset. Once he had time to simmer down and contemplate the length of his scoreless streak, he was able to put it into perspective.

“I mean, it’s fine,” he said. “This game is hard enough. Now the best part is I’m going to get another chance to get back at it tomorrow and hopefully get the team back on the W side.”

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