Nationals catcher Yan Gomes started his seventh straight game Friday night in a 5-0 loss to the Braves. His teammate, Kurt Suzuki, has been out with an elbow injury for more than a week now. Manager Davey Martinez said Suzuki could start throwing a baseball by the end of the weekend.
The skipper appears to be leaning toward giving Raudy Read the start against the Braves on Saturday afternoon. Martinez said he likes the matchup of Read against Mike Foltynewicz. Plus, Read has experience catching Austin Voth this season in the minor leagues.
So if Read does get the start Saturday, that would give Gomes a day off before Sunday and the three games in St. Louis that begin Monday night.
Gomes last night caught Max Scherzer for the second time in five days. The second start was not like the win in Atlanta last Sunday, when Scherzer allowed only one run over six innings. This time, the Braves scored three on Scherzer with rallies in the fourth and fifth innings.
“He was doing really well, battling,” Gomes said. “That one inning kind of ... a couple balls (were) just quite out of the reach of some guys. But I think a little thing was just putting some guys away early, trying to work our pitch count. They battled well, took some good pitches and got his pitch count up pretty quick.”
Last Sunday, Scherzer fired 98 pitches over six innings. But last night, the Braves fouled off a lot of his pitches, driving the pitch count to 99 through five. His night was over. Did familiarity with Scherzer help the Braves the second time around?
“It should be beneficial one way or the other, for them or for us,” Gomes reasoned. “But I just think it’s one of those things. The game from when we faced them the other day and today, it’s kind of both teams are prepared one way or the other. I just think today they probably did a little better job laying off some pitches and (Mike) Soroka did a better job getting ahead on us.”
With all these starts in a row, does Gomes think he is tiring out? No, he insists. Gomes has started every day as a catcher for years. He can still play every day if necessary. He did concede that the team charter landing at 5:01 a.m. Friday morning from Minneapolis made for a quick turnaround.
“I know it’s kind of the first time this year (getting so much playing time), but I’ve been doing it for the last six years, so it’s just a matter of trying to get yourself ready every day,” Gomes said. “Focus on recovery, but yeah, definitely the 6 a.m. makes it a little tougher. But it’s one of those things, man. No one’s going to let us get away because we came in so late or we’re tired, but you got to get back tomorrow. Hopefully, get some good rest tonight, come back and try to win the series.
“Sure, everyone’s exhausted, but I’ve said it before: No one’s going to feel bad about it. No one’s going to put this loss as an asterisk because we came in at 7 o’clock in the morning. It’s still a ballgame. We had to prepare and it just didn’t go our way.”
The likely plan today is to have Read making his first start this season and Gomes returning to the lineup for the series finale Sunday. Read’s lone major league start came on Sept. 9, 2017 against the Phillies. Even if Gomes does not admit it, a day off will help him during this final haul to the finish line.