Nationals relief pitcher Daniel Hudson’s first home game with his new team came at a fortuitous time.
Acquired at the trade deadline while the Nationals were on the road, the Lynchburg, Virginia, native attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk. It just so happened it was “ODU Night” at Nationals Park on Monday as Washington began a week-long homestand.
“It is a big coincidence,” Hudson told The Washington Times. “I had a couple of people text me this morning to tell me they were going to be here. I didn’t even know it was ODU Night. It is pretty cool.”
Washington manager Dave Martinez hopes the timing is right for a new-look bullpen, which added Hudson and two other veteran relievers at the trade deadline nearly two weeks ago.
Hudson was acquired in a trade from the Toronto Blue Jays on July 31, and the Nationals also landed fellow relievers Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias from Seattle before the deadline.
“They have been great,” Martinez said. “They have all fit in perfectly. They are all jelling. They are having fun.”
More importantly, all three relievers have better numbers with their new team.
Hudson already has pitched in seven games for the Nationals in just 11 days, maintaining a 1.69 ERA. Overall this season, he is 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 52 games between the Blue Jays and Washington.
Only 6.5% of the runners he inherited had scored through Sunday, which led the majors.
“That is how we are judged at the end of the day — how many runs we give up,” Hudson said. “It is kind of the mindset that I want to leave those guys out there.”
Elias retired both batters he faced in his Nationals debut Aug. 2 at Arizona, but he hurt his hamstring while running out a grounder that night and went on the 10-day injured list.
Meanwhile, Strickland has a 1.93 ERA in his first five games with Washington and is 0-1, 4.50 in nine games overall this season between Seattle and the Nationals.
“I’m healthy now and just trying to get in as many games as possible and the help team in any way I can,” Strickland said.
Strickland dealt with a right lat strain earlier this season.
Strickland may be better known to Nationals fans as the pitcher who allowed two homers to Bryce Harper in the playoffs in 2014. Strickland also hit Harper with a pitch in San Francisco in 2017 and that set off a brawl between the two teams.
Strickland said the Washington bullpen has been “a great fit” with “a great group of guys.”
“I’ve just put things in a bit of a different perspective, what really means most and matters, and just realizing fro past mistakes and trying to move forward and grow as a person, in general,” Strickland said.
The Nationals’ bullpen was 16-28 with a 6.00 ERA and 55 home runs allowed through Sunday. Martinez, though, feels the three new arms give him more versatility and could take some of the workload off closer Sean Doolittle. The closer’s ERA has risen to 3.44.
Elias was eligible to come off the injured list on Monday, but Martinez said the Nationals hope Elias can begin throwing by the end of this week.
In other personnel news, Martinez said ace pitcher Max Scherzer (9-5, 2.41) will throw a simulated game at Nationals Park on Tuesday and be re-evaluated after that. Scherzer has made just one start since July 6.
Left fielder Juan Soto (.288, 24 home runs) was held out of the starting lineup Monday after he sprained his ankle Sunday in New York against the Mets.
Infielder Howie Kendrick (.316, 12 home runs) came off the injured list before Monday’s home game with the Reds, while outfielder Andrew Stevenson was sent to the minors.
• Rina Torchinsky can be reached at email@example.com.
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