Sept. callups give Nats chance to evaluate

September 23rd, 2021

CINCINNATI -- With just over a week remaining in the regular season, the Nationals are still making moves to evaluate players for next season. On Thursday, the roster changed again -- partly out of necessity, but also to give a new pitcher a chance.

The Nationals selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jhon Romero from Triple-A Rochester, placed outfielder Yadiel Hernandez on the paternity list, and designated catcher Jakson Reetz for assignment.

“It’s about getting guys here and getting a chance to know them,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We're going to be evaluating everyone for the 2022 season. I tell them to go out there and knock the door down.”

Romero is someone Martinez is familiar with from his time with the Cubs. The 26-year-old went 2-4 with two saves and a 2.62 ERA in 38 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester this season. He struck out 69 batters and allowed 11 walks over 55 innings.

“He’s a strike-thrower,” Martinez said. “We wanted to get him up here to see him in person. They asked me about him. From what I know, he’s feisty. He’s always around the zone. Not afraid to throw his fastball for strikes.”

In five outings with Triple-A Rochester, Romero posted a 1.23 ERA with 11 strikeouts, one walk and five hits allowed (.192 opponent average). He joined the Red Wings after going 2-4 with two saves and a 2.83 ERA in 33 outings at Double-A Harrisburg.

A native of Cartagena, Colombia, Romero was acquired by the Nationals from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brandon Kintzler at the 2018 Trade Deadline. Romero has posted a 2.84 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 119 career Minor League appearances.

“I told him, ‘I want to see you pitch. Don’t change a thing. Be aggressive,’” Martinez said.

Reetz, 25, made his Major League debut back in July. He went 1-for-2 with a double and one run scored in two games. Martinez liked how Reetz worked with the pitching staff, but said his overall game -- especially defensively -- needs to improve.

“Hopefully he sticks around, but continues to get better,” Martinez said. “He’s got to get better catching. He’s a go-getter. Even though we take him off the roster, doesn’t mean we give up on him. We think he still has a chance to reach his peak. You can never have enough catchers.”

The best news of the day was the impending birth of Hernandez’s second child, a girl.

“So far so good,” said Martinez, who spoke with Hernandez on Thursday. “He’s excited about having a little girl.”