Next step in Adon's progress? Finishing off innings

May 24th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- Joan Adon had thrown a total of 5 1/3 innings in one Major League start last season before earning a spot in the Nationals’ 2022 starting rotation. So a growing process was to be expected for the 23-year-old right-hander who only graduated from prospect status this past weekend, per MLB Pipeline.

When Adon allowed six runs across 4 2/3 frames on Monday in a 10-1 loss to the Dodgers at Nationals Park, manager Dave Martinez noted that learning curve. It was particularly highlighted in two-out scenarios against an offensively dominant opponent that leads all of baseball in run production.

“It’s not easing up,” Martinez said. “It’s just the focus like, ‘Hey, I’ve got two quick outs.’ Then sometimes you’ve got to sit back down, take a deep breath and say, ‘Hey, I need to throw strike one here and try to get a quick out, just finish the inning.’ Like I said, that’s a young mistake. But those are the things that he needs to get better at because his stuff was good.”

Adon finished his ninth outing of the season with six runs off seven hits, four walks and four strikeouts over 92 pitches (58 strikes). In spite of giving up a pair of runs in the first inning, he settled in for a four-batter, three-strikeout second frame and a 1-2-3 third inning.

But after retiring the first two batters in the fourth, Adon issued a walk to Cody Bellinger, surrendered an RBI triple to Chris Taylor, walked Gavin Lux and then allowed a two-run double to Mookie Betts.

It was a similar scenario one inning later. Adon began the fifth by forcing two groundouts, only to walk Will Smith, surrender a single to Max Muncy and permit an RBI double to Bellinger before he was replaced by Austin Voth, trailing 6-0.

“You’ve got to bear down for that third out, you really do,” Martinez said. “I don’t know if he lost focus or whatever, but that third out is important. Get through that third out as quick as you can and get back in the dugout. We’ve got to kind of shut teams down, especially when we gave up two runs early.”

For Adon, the biggest key to success -- especially against a tough lineup like the Dodgers -- is consistency. One start removed from issuing zero free passes in 4 2/3 innings to the Marlins last Tuesday, he emphasized the need to maintain his line to home plate and not overthrow. , who has caught six of Adon’s nine starts this season, spoke to the importance of attacking with strikes, inning after inning.

“[We’ve got to] be more aggressive in the zone,” Ruiz said. “Let them beat us with base hits and not with walks.”

On a night when the Nationals’ offense was stifled and they were no-hit by lefty Tyler Anderson until César Hernández doubled in the sixth inning, every run allowed is magnified. Converting his pitching that Martinez described as “electric” into finishing off innings is the next step in Adon’s continuing progress.

“I think it’s a little bit of a focus thing, where he thought he got two quick outs and he can ease up,” Martinez said. “You don’t ease up. You want to get that third out as soon as you can.”