Left-hander Tim Cate has been promoted from low Single-A Hagerstown to high Single-A Potomac. The 2018 second-round selection out of UConn has gone 4-5 with a 2.82 ERA in 13 starts this season, striking out 73 and walking only 13 in 70 1/3 innings. Here is my sit-down with Cate from spring training, which focused on building from his lower half.
“Cate has made tremendous strides from last year to this year with his development of all three pitches, fastballs have been commanded better, curveball (which is a plus pitch) has been more consistent and his changeup has come along as well,” said Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson.
Also, infielder Jackson Cluff begins his professional career at Hagerstown. The BYU product and sixth-round selection spent two years on his mission out of college, so he is a little more mature than some other 2019 draft picks.
* Nationals manager Davey Martinez recently has looked to simplify roles in the bullpen, trying not to not put too much of a burden on each reliever. One focus has been on southpaw Matt Grace, who has always been a reliable go-to for Martinez.
But during the Nats’ struggles, Martinez might have leaned on Grace too much, and it affected the left-hander’s overall consistency.
In May, Grace stumbled to a 9.82 ERA in 12 appearances over 11 innings. So far in June, in five appearances over 4 1/3 innings, he has been on target, posting a 2.08 ERA. In last Thursday’s series opener, Grace fired two scoreless innings to hold the Nats’ 5-0 lead against the Diamondbacks.
“I’ve tried that throughout the whole year with some guys and it has worked,” Martinez said. “Matty likes pitching. He’ll take the ball every single day, doesn’t matter what situation. And I’ve done that with him on occasion where he’s pitched a lot. I thought this time just to reel him in and get him back on track. Just pick situations, maybe face one or two hitters, three or four times out of five days, and it’s worked. He’s been pitching really, really well. I just got to make sure that we continue to keep him on that track, because we need him. He’s a guy that eventually can do a lot of things for us, whether it’s one inning, two innings. But we need him. We need him right.”
Martinez said he’s asking Grace to focus on his two-seam fastball and changeup to get him back to his strengths.
“For me, it’s just honing in on what he needed to do to get outs,” Martinez said. “We talked a lot about that. That’s what he has done. He’s got three good pitches. His sinker, at one point he wasn’t really, he was trying to throw an elevated fastball, so we wanted to get him back to throwing his two-seamer more, throwing his changeup a little bit more, throwing his sliders more effectively to left-handed hitters, and he’s done all of that.”