After allowing seven runs in his last 3 2/3 innings, the Washington Nationals optioned reliever Wander Suero to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday, a move made in the hopes of rediscovering some of the right-hander’s confidence.
Suero holds a 6.29 ERA in 34 1/3 innings this season, and he’s especially struggled since the beginning of July. In 12 games, his ERA ballooned to 11.37, with batters hitting .315 with a 1.091 on-base-plus-slugging percentage off Suero.
The Nationals announced Javy Guerra was called up to take Suero’s place. And with catcher Rene Rivera landing on the 10-day injured list, Washington brought up catcher Riley Adams, the player received in the trade that sent closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“He said he needs to get better,” Martinez said of Suero. “I told him, ‘You gotta throw strikes. You’ve been behind a lot, and I think it’s causing you to get hit the way you’ve been getting hit.’ He understood, and he said he’s going to work hard and get back here as soon as possible.”
Suero’s difficulties were on display in Monday’s loss to the Phillies, when he replaced Gabe Klobosits with two on and no outs in the ninth. Suero gave up a double, intentionally walked one hitter, then allowed a two-run single to J.T. Realmuto. Because Washington is in development mode, Suero remained in the game, allowing two more runs to score.
Suero relies heavily on his cutter, throwing the pitch 78.1% of the time, according to FanGraphs. Martinez said he hopes to see improvement to Suero’s curveball and changeup while he’s working on his game in the minors.
“He throws his changeup a little bit harder than what we want him to throw it,” Martinez said. “So we want him to throw it a little softer. We’ve talked about his curveball, being a little bit more consistent with his curveball and learning how to throw it in situations where he’s going to succeed.”
Rivera landed on the injured list after a pitch hit him in the arm, leading to a sore throwing elbow. He couldn’t throw ahead of Tuesday’s game, and the catcher underwent an MRI to assess the injury.
Washington opted to call up Riley rather than top prospect Keibert Ruiz, a catcher acquired in the trade that send Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martinez said he wants Ruiz to get the opportunity to catch every day for the Red Wings in Triple-A. Riley, meanwhile, has offensive upside and ranks as the 13th best prospect in the Nationals’ farm system, per MLB Pipeline.
“He has a lot of pop in his bat,” Martinez said. “He’ll get an opportunity to split time here with [Tres] Barrera. He just showed up, I just had a conversation with him. He seems like another good, fine young man.”
After trading eight veterans at the deadline, Washington has plenty of prospects making a jump to the bigs. Right-hander Josiah Gray started his first game for the Nationals on Monday night, and reliever Mason Thompson made his first appearance for Washington later in the game. Adams could soon follow.