When Dave Martinez was hired, he did not mince words. He said he was here to win. The schedule-makers were kind to Martinez with his first quest against the Cincinnati Reds for his first series of the season. The Reds only won 68-games last season, and they no longer have +5.0 WAR Zack Cozart. It set-up what good teams want in sports — good teams are supposed to beat the bad teams and the Washington Nationals have done that so far. Today, the Washington Nationals go for the three game sweep.
“You embrace those expectations,’’ Dave Martinez said. “In my first press conference I said, ‘I’m here to win.’ If you don’t think that way, or any player thinks that way, why are you playing the game? I want them to understand we’re here to win.’’
Wins can come with a price to pay. Dave Martinez had a nice four run cushion leading into the seventh inning and stuck with Stephen Strasburg too long. By doing that, the game turned to high leverage when Martinez finally went to the bullpen with bases loaded and Joey Votto stepping into the batter’s box representing the tying run. While Sammy Solis toed the rubber, Brandon Kintzler was getting hot in the bullpen. Solis got the job done not allowing a run to score, and Kintzler got to sit back down. But over 2 2/3 innings yesterday after Strasburg departed, Davey Martinez warmed up every bullpen arm not named Sean or Shawn. Even A.J. Cole was warming up in the bullpen.
What Dave Martinez was guilty of is affectionately called dry-humping by pitchers and they hate it. Dry-humping happens when you warm-up relievers and don’t use them in the game. Brandon Kintzler got up twice to warm-up and was not used. Even Ryan Madson warmed-up and did not get into the game. While traditional statistics only keep track of reliever innings actually pitched in the game, dry-humping relievers don’t show up in the stats. How effective would Kintzler be if he was used in today’s game? The same with Madson. Then you have the situation of some relievers are not as effective in consecutive games with Solis and that .412 batting average. On top of that, Enny Romero and Matt Grace were both used in relief yesterday and did not look good which will take a leap of faith as both should be available.
So who is available out of the bullpen today besides Shawn Kelley and Sean Doolittle? You can expect Dave Martinez and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist will be taking stock today as they talk to their bullpen pitchers.
“I think injuries are the best lesson,” Brandon Kintzler said. “I have had enough injuries and surgeries to know how the body works and how to take care of yourself.”
Kintzler wants to be honest with his manager and coaches and declare himself unavailable when he has been over-worked. It was not always that way for Kintzler in his career he said. Most relief pitchers have that bravado to tell their coaches they are fine when they are not.
Trevor Gott should be available today. He was the last reliever used in the game, and only needed to pitch to one batter to close out the six run victory for the Nationals. Gott had to replace the ineffective Enny Romero in the ninth inning.
“By winning one more game each day,” Dave Martinez said which is his philosophy to the end of the season.
With Gio Gonzalez as the starting pitcher today, the hope is he can control the game and save the bullpen. The decision to go with the eight-man bullpen sure looks like a wise move now. The decision to dry-hump Kintzler and Madson was a shame. Two things we expected from Dave Martinez was better reads on when his starters are spent regardless of pitch counts, and not abuse his bullpen arms. While yesterday is just one game out of a long season, there is no reason to panic. We hope yesterday was a learning experience for a manager who has all of two games on his resumé.
The Reds have righty Sal Romano starting for them today. Only Matt Adams has faced Romano before and he was 1-for-3 with a home run against the rookie. We will see if that small sample size nugget sways Martinez on today’s line-up.
Washington Nationals vs. Cincinnati Reds
Stadium: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, Ohio
1st Pitch: 4:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice:
- Adam Eaton LF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Bryce Harper RF
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Trea Turner SS
- Michael Taylor CF
- Miguel Montero C
- Gio Gonzalez LHP
- Wilmer Difo 2B
Today at CIN: Eaton LF, Rendon 3B, Harper RF, Zimmerman 1B, Turner SS, Taylor CF, Montero C, Gonzalez LHP, Difo 2B pic.twitter.com/e3aGSS9YPS
— TALK NATS ⚾ (@TalkNats2) April 1, 2018