February 3, 2023

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After early HR, Adon nails 'growth moment'

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CINCINNATI — Nationals manager Dave Martinez has been seeking consistency from 23-year-old starting pitcher Joan Adon.

It’s been a trial-by-fire 2022 season for the rookie, who was handed his ninth loss of the season in an 8-1 defeat against the Reds on Thursday at Great American Ball Park, but who has shown significant growth through his past two starts. Despite remaining winless on the road, Adon continued to show promise in the back end of Washington’s rotation. He gave up three runs on six hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts.

“I think it was a good outing,” Adon said after the game through a team translator. “My main reason for being out there is to keep us in the game and try to be out there as long as possible, which I think I accomplished.”

Adon is a week removed from his strongest start of the season, and he followed it up with another solid outing that kept his club in the game through the middle innings.

Despite allowing just two home runs across his past 38 1/3 innings coming in, Adon was dealt a big blow in the bottom of the first when Reds slugger Joey Votto clubbed a Statcast-projected 390-foot homer to right field. Adon left a four-seamer up and in on the heart of the plate, and Votto punished the mistake.

The Reds had a baserunner in every inning of Adon’s outing, yet he continued to get himself out of his own jams. The right-hander kept his mid-90s fastball down in the strike zone, leading to multiple key double plays that limited Cincinnati’s momentum.

“He settled in after the first [inning],” Martinez said. “He’s maturing, he’s learning. I wanted to see him get through the [fifth inning]. He did it. He let up three runs, but he kept us in the game.”

Moving forward, Martinez also wants to see Adon learn to adjust on the fly and recognize what’s working and what’s not.

After getting knocked around early, Adon had another opportunity to face Votto with a runner on base in the fifth, and this time he induced a groundout to end the inning.

“He had a growth moment there. We let him face [Votto] again,” Martinez said. “He made the pitch he needed to make and got him to ground out.”

When asked about his decision to leave Adon in the game entering the sixth inning, Martinez said he believes it’s important to show his staff their expectations as a starting pitcher.

“We need to teach them that the game’s not over after five innings,” Martinez said. “We want you to go out there for six, seven innings, but you’ve got to understand how to do it.”

Departing after 98 pitches (54 strikes), Adon was pleased to be able to battle on the mound in the sixth, given how his night began

“I felt great,” Adon said. “That’s what I prepare for, to be able to be out there for 100-plus pitches in any game. So I was able to accomplish it today, so it feels good.”

Although Adon may not be receiving the on-the-field results that he’d like, he understands the process of being a young pitcher in the big leagues.

“There’s certain things that you have no control over, so I just try to keep doing my job and stay positive out there,” Adon said.

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