When you win a World Series, your managerial resumé is solidified, and many of the loud criticisms of the past become whispers. We can question the August 8th use of Sean Doolittle and maybe how Seth Romero was used in his debut on August 13th or not having a quicker hook on a starter. But all things considered, manager Dave Martinez keeps trying to show his players that he believes in them. Maybe Davey gave Max Scherzer too much rope on Sunday (he did) and maybe he had blind faith in Doolittle, but that faith in his players paid dividends in the 2019 postseason run for the Washington Nationals.
Now Davey has almost a whole new cast of characters in his bullpen to work his magic on. Last night he meandered around a repeat of Monday’s disaster when closer Daniel Hudson imploded with a 3-run lead, and on this night which came a day after Hudson closed the game out with little drama. In fact, Davey used a total of seven bullpen arms to secure that win and that included three rookies pitching for him: Romero, Dakota Bacus, and Kyle Finnegan as well as the slightly more experienced Wander Suero along with veterans Javy Guerra, Will Harris, and Hudson.
For the first time this season, Martinez seemed to manage with a real sense of urgency, and he traversed the potholes with real acuity. He had a quick hook on starter Austin Voth who gave up the only runs (5) by Nats pitchers, and hooked Romero with foresight, and Guerra out of necessity to go to Finnegan in the fireman’s role since Tanner Rainey who has been the bullpen ace was unavailable due to his heavy workload.
“You see the way the game’s playing out, and you try to pick spots where you think guys are going to fit and get big outs,” Martinez said. “Games that are close like that — you put guys in situations where you think they’re going to succeed. Those guys did really well, and I’m proud of all those guys.”
For those who felt the sense of urgency was missing this season — they saw it last night. Personally, I was expecting Patrick Corbin out of the bullpen last night as I just did not think that Hudson was going to pitch three days in a row — and I was wrong. If “Patty Ice” came in, it would have felt like his multiple appearances in the postseason. It would have felt so right, but in the end Martinez stuck with Hudson, and you have to hope that his use and usage won’t affect him physically in any negative way.
Going forward, it just feels with the designated hitter that the Nats do not need both Josh Harrison and Wilmer Difo, and could use a tenth bullpen arm in a long-man since Erick Fedde is now in the starting rotation to replace Stephen Strasburg.
Also with the trade deadline just a dozen days away, will Rizzo be a buyer to plug holes on lefty relief and another spot starter as well as an upgrade on the bench?