Game 69 lineups: Nats vs. Diamondbacks

Nationals catcher Yan Gomes has not been able to get in a consistent groove at the plate this season, slashing .229/.302/.621 in 44 games. But in the last 15 games, he has made a steady climb, hitting .250 with 13 hits, four walks and eight RBIs.

Manager Davey Martinez said saw an uptick in Gomes’ success with the bat during the last road swing, but knows the importance of the former Indians backstop has been his work with the pitching staff.

Gomes-Catches-Popup-Blue-Sidebar.jpg“We say he is struggling, but he is actually swinging the bat a lot better,” Martinez said. “This road trip, he swung the bat really well. When it comes to catching, I don’t really worry about the hitting, it’s the catching, the calling of the games. He calls a really good game, he really does. The passed ball stuff, he’s come to a point where he’s inherited a new pitching staff. With that being said, these guys are not easy to catch when you have guys that have the stuff that we have.

“(Stephen) Strasburg has an unbelievable curveball, an unbelievable changeup. (Erick) Fedde throws two cut fastballs, two-seam and four-seam, at 95, 96 mph. It’s not easy. I explained to him, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen, don’t worry, you’re an All-Star catcher.’ And he was in 2018, he was an All-Star catcher. Just keep putting those good fingers down and keep doing your thing.”

Martinez told Gomes that he wanted him to keep his head up. He said the veteran does not let a passed ball or an 0-for-4 at the plate take him away from his job in guiding the pitcher through each inning. Gomes is not in the starting lineup tonight.

“What I like about him is he stays focused and he’s on task,” Martinez said. “No matter what happens, he gets right back to that next pitch and he’s right in the mix. He doesn’t let that wear on him until the next day when he works with and talks to Henry (Blanco, bullpen coach) about it. They work together to try to get better.”

The Nats turn to former Arizona right-hander Max Scherzer (4-5, 2.83 ERA) tonight against the Diamondbacks. Arizona counters with left-hander Robbie Ray (5-3, 3.54 ERA), a 2010 12th-round selection by the Nats. Scherzer pitched for the D-backs from 2008-2009, and has posted an 0.67 ERA in his last four starts with the Nats.

Ray was in the Nats organization from 2010-2013. The Nats traded him in the deal with the Tigers for veteran pitcher Doug Fister in 2013, and the Diamondbacks acquired him in from the Tigers in a three-team deal a year later. Fister went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA for the Nats in their playoff season of 2014. This is an example of how a Nationals home grown talent like Ray paid dividends for the Nats with the acquisition of a player like Fister.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Sunny, 75 degrees, no precipitation expected, wind 10 mph out to left field

NATIONALS (31-37)
SS Trea Turner
RF Victor Robles
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
1B Howie Kendrick
2B Brian Dozier
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Michael A. Taylor
RHP Max Scherzer

DIAMONDBACKS (37-33)
CF Jarrod Dyson
2B Ketel Marte
LF David Peralta
RF Adam Jones
3B Eduardo Escobar
1B Kevin Cron
SS Nick Ahmed
C Carson Kelly
LHP Robbie Ray

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