Joan Adon's Performance Gives Nationals Boost Rest of Season

After delivering nearly 6 innings of perfect baseball on a moment's notice, Joan Adon's strong performance has earned him a spot for possibly the remainder of the season with the Nationals as they move to a six man rotation.
Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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Joan Adon was nothing short of brilliant in his spot start on Saturday in Cincinnati. Adon had Reds hitters completely fooled and off-balance for the first 5 innings, going perfect to that point. In the 6th inning, Adon began to tire and experienced some cramping prior to giving up a 3 run home run, but he was still able to complete the inning for the quality start and the Nationals rewarded him with a much deserved win.

Adon has shown flashes of dominance before. If you go back to the final game of the 2021 season, Adon went 5.2 innings allowing just 2 runs to the Boston Red Sox in his Major League debut. This, in large part, contributed to Adon making the Major League roster out of camp heading into 2022. Unfortunately, it was a season to forget for Adon and the Nationals, for some reason, continued to let Adon struggle before finally intervening and sending him down to AAA. Adon went 1-12 in 14 starts last year for the Nationals with a 7.10 ERA, naturally leaving a negative impression on most of the fan base.

Thankfully for the fans and for Joan Adon, the lab up at Rochester seems to have worked on Adon and turned his season, and possibly career, around, leading to a great performance last Saturday in his first start with the Nationals this season. That start has seemingly earned him the opportunity to stick around for the foreseeable future.

As Jesse mentioned, Adon's re-emergence gives the Nationals options to manage arms down the stretch. Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore and Jake Irvin are all on pace for career highs in innings pitched if they haven't hit that mark already. The Nationals, in a rebuilding season, need to be smart in managing their young arms and keeping them healthy. Gray in particular has had arguably his worst two starts of the season back-to-back in the past two weeks, so additional rest for him and for everyone in the rotation is not the worst thing in the world by any means.

For Adon, he essentially gets a two month audition for a roster spot next season. On paper, the Nationals' rotation seems to be set with Gray and Gore as a part of the future, Irvin's emergence, and Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams both under contract for 2024. However, Williams has had success as a reliever and being in a contract year, the Nationals could move Williams back to relief role in order to increase his potential trade value at the 2024 deadline if Adon proves he can stick in the rotation and if Williams continues to struggle as a starter, as he did yesterday against the Phillies. Patrick Corbin is also in a contract year (finally) and could be moved if he performs well, but that seems like a longshot and Corbin, to his credit, has served well as an innings eater this season, going at least 5 innings in basically every start.

So going to a 6 man rotation means we'll see slightly less of Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore as the season winds down, but it is absolutely the right move for the longterm health of their pitchers. And with the way the bullpen has been performing as of late (lights out), it seems like a no brainer to take some stress off the starters as well.