JUNKIES: Dave Martinez has earned another year with the Nats

Chris Lingebach
October 09, 2019 - 12:37 pm

Everyone knew the bullpen was the Washington Nationals' weakest link coming into the postseason.

And yet, here they are, lasting as far as a Game 5 elimination game, with a chance to knock off the Dodgers, one of the three most stacked clubs in Major League Baseball.

After just five postseason games, the Nats have already faced elimination – and survived – twice, a testament, The Sports Junkies say, to the "masterful" managing of Dave Martinez.

"At 19-31, I thought he was dead man walking. He'd be fired," John-Paul Flaim said on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday. "Most people thought that that was probably imminent. But they turned the season around, partly maybe because of Davey, partly maybe because of injuries. Who knows? They find themselves in the playoffs."

"And I have to tell you, I've been impressed with how he's managed in the playoffs," he said. "It's been that all-hands-on-deck. And I don't know if this is coming from Rizzo. They've made decisions where, I like, even when it doesn't work out, the decision to go with (Patrick) Corbin (in Game 3), the decision to go with Max (Scherzer) in relief (in Game 2).

"I like the decisions that they have been making as an organization and Davey Martinez as the manager, so I'll give him credit for that. I've kind of come around on Davey, because I thought he's been a poor manager at times throughout the regular season."

"Well, I mean, it's hard. He's got to manage that roster through 162 games," said Eric Bickel. "He can't employ this kind of strategy in the regular season. But as they've gotten into these must-win situations in this playoff scenario, you know, those guys aren't stupid. They know who's their good arm and who's their... they know (Wander) Suero's not as good as (Daniel) Hudson or some of these other guys. They know!"

"But they're just trying to manage and get through a 162-game season," he said. "But coming into the playoffs, I think he's really shined, and I think if you're a Davey detractor, you can always point to decisions and second-guess when they don't work out, but I think by and large, he's proven his worth big time in these playoffs and deserves an opportunity to come back and do this again next year. One-hundred percent."

"Oh yeah," chimed Jason Bishop. "He's definitely coming back."

"And just think about the Wild Card Game, the buttons he pushed in just that one game," said Flaim. "Every button he pushed worked out for him, like keeping Zimm until there was a runner on base. Like Zimmerman was on deck I think three times that game. I thought he pushed every button perfectly in that game."

"That was masterful, what he did," Bickel said.

"And going to those starters, like going to Corbin and going to Max, he also knows he doesn't have many options," Bishop noted. "In a desperate situation, you kind of have to go to your starters, who are your best pitchers. I will question him on one thing in Game 3, when he..."

"When he took out Sanchez (in Game 3)?" Bickel asked.

"Well maybe not taking out Sanchez, but leaving Corbin in to face (Kike) Hernandez after he had just walked (Chris) Taylor," Bishop said. "I thought he left him in one batter too long and it cost him. That's the only thing that I'll question Davey for."

"But then who's he gonna go to?" Bickel questioned.

"I don't know," Bishop replied. "I'm just saying, it was clear that Corbin didn't have it and he left him in a little too long."

"Some of it is the composition of the bullpen right now," argued Flaim. "You've got Doolittle as a lefty. He doesn't have as many options in some of those pitching matchups, so, to me, that's why I would have Corbin ready to go. I don't care. Just pretend that that Game 3 didn't happen with Corbin. Corbin was one strike away."

"I know. I trust them whatever they do," said Bickel. "I'm not one of these guys that bangs my head against the TV when Davey does something and it doesn't work out. I don't claim to know more than these guys, so I trust. They always have rationale that, other people might disagree with it. But they're not just doing things willy-nilly, so I trust whatever they come up with. I've been really impressed with Davey."

"And he actually went against analytics the other night when Zimmerman stayed at the plate," Flaim observed. "Because they brought in (Pedro) Baez, a right-handed pitcher, to face Zimmerman. And a lot of people thought they should have pinch-hit. You know, put Matt Adams at the plate. Whatever, somebody else. (Martinez) kept Zimmerman there and he delivered with the home run."

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