Ryan Mattheus’s flight from Rochester landed at 5:50 p.m. He hopped in a cab and headed to Nationals Park. Mattheus dressed and headed straight to the bullpen. He had woken up a Syracuse Chief, and by first pitch he was again a Washington National.
After Mattheus pitched poorly in his return from a broken hand, the Nationals demoted him to Class AAA Syracuse on Aug. 15. Less than two weeks later, they summoned him back to the majors after what Mattheus felt was a productive stint in the minors.
“You’re not going to be happy about getting sent down, whatever level you’re at,” Mattheus said after the Nationals’ 2-1 win. “Once you’re over the initial shock of it, the initial fact that it can happen, you go down there and figure out what you need to do to get back. I had to fix some things. This team needs to win, and they need everyone able to contribute.”
At Syracuse, Mattheus focused on a return to the style that made him a reliable piece of the Nationals’ bullpen in 2011 and 2012. He threw more fastballs for strikes and attacked early in counts with his sinker.
“That’s what Davey [Johnson] really stressed to me,” Mattheus said. “ ‘You’ve been successful when you come in, you attack, you get ahead early.’ So I went down there with that focus.”
Immediately after he arrived at Syracuse, pitching coach Greg Booker noticed a mechanical flaw. Mattheus was yanking his head to the left as he delivered pitches, which prevented him from making a proper, powerful follow-through.
“I got that ironed out really quick,” Mattheus said. “It was minor. It wasn’t any mechanical overhaul. When you’re up here, you don’t realize those things, because you’re trying to get guys out. You go down there, you can take a step back. It was good for me.”
At Syracuse, Mattheus allowed one earned run over 5 1/3 innings, and now he’s back. The events on the Mall will make for hellacious traffic to Nationals Park. Mattheus will be the one National with an easier commute today than yesterday.
FROM THE POST
Tyler Clippard started in a 2-1 win over the Marlins that nudged the Nationals closer to contention.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Rochester 6, Syracuse 3: Eury Perez went 3 for 5. Danny Espinosa went 2 for 5 with a double. Cole Kimball allowed no runs in one relief inning on no hits and no walks, striking out one. Ian Krol allowed no runs in one inning on no hits and no walks, striking out two.
Harrisburg 6, Altoona 3: Billy Burns went 4 for 5 with a double. Brian Goodwin went 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and a walk. Goodwin and Burns have scored a combined 12 runs the previous two games. Steve Souza went 4 for 5. Rick Hague went 2 for 4 with a double. Blake Treinen allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings on four hits and no walks, striking out six.
Potomac was off.
Lakewood 6, Hagerstown 5: Tony Renda went 2 for 5 with a double. Wander Ramos went 2 for 4 with a home run. Pedro Encarnacion allowed two earned runs in six innings on four hits and two walks, striking out one.
Batavia 9, Auburn 3: Cody Gunter went 2 for 4 with a triple. Matt Reistetter went 1 for 4 with a home run.