Doug Fister has been excellent for the Nationals all season but the results stand out when Jose Lobaton is behind the plate. It may be coincidence, but with Lobaton catching Fister is 7-0 with a 1.82 ERA over eight starts, including Sunday’s seven scoreless innings in the win over the Cincinnati Reds.
“Maybe lucky,” Lobaton said. “I don’t know. He’s been throwing strikes. He’s been [well]. It’s weird because I talked to him before, too, what we’ve been doing. We almost on the same page all the time.”
Added Fister: “We’re just kinda on the same page and natural as can be. We want to attack hitters with our best stuff with sinkers and cutters. Keep them off balance. We’re trying to stick with no pattern and really just kinda throw anything and everything at ‘em all at once.”
With Wilson Ramos carrying the bulk of the playing time over the past month since he returned from the disabled list, Lobaton has played less frequently. But even when he isn’t catching Fister, Lobaton has made sure to watch each of his starts intently and talk with the right-hander about them. Lobaton started on Sunday because it was a day game and Ramos started the previous two games.
“What [Fister] does in the game is different than any other guy,” Lobaton said. “He’s a guy who throws sinker all the time. He’s gotta use that sink. He gotta use that cutter. He’s not a guy that’s going to throw three fastballs in a row. He’s going to throw in, he’s going to throw away, he’s going to throw the cutter and he’s going to throw change-up. It’s different than other guys.”
Lobaton has had success this season beyond Fister. Ramos is an excellent game caller and he has known the majority of the Nationals pitching staff the longest. In 43 games Ramos has caught this season, the Nationals have a 3.08 ERA. In Lobaton’s 46 games, the Nationals have a 2.98 ERA. That’s a small difference but shows that Lobaton has added value behind the plate more than may appear.
Catcher’s ERA can be a little fluky because of the small sample sizes, but some starters have been better with Lobaton behind the plate so far. Jordan Zimmermann has a 2.95 ERA with Lobaton over seven games while a 4.41 ERA over nine games with Ramos. The rest? Stephen Strasburg has a 2.90 ERA with Ramos (12 games) and a 3.48 ERA with Lobaton (seven games); Tanner Roark has a 2.39 ERA with Ramos (10 games) and 4.31 ERA with Lobaton (seven games); and Gio Gonzalez has a 3.28 ERA with Ramos (four games) and a 3.65 ERA with Lobaton (10 games).
“I’ve been learning,” Lobaton said. “When I’m on the bench, I’m not a guy whose just watching over there because I’m not playing. I’m watching what they’re doing. I know I’m going to have my chance. In a series, I know I’m going to have maybe one game so I wanna make sure in that game I do good.”
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FROM THE WEEKEND’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Gwinnett 2: Blake Treinen earned his seventh win after allowing two runs over seven innings. Rafael Martin went 1 2/3 innings for the save. Steven Souza Jr. hit his 17th home run. Emmanuel Burriss went 4 for 5 and is hitting .306. SandyLeon had two hits.
Potomac 6, Carolina 5: Oscar Tejeda hit a walkoff solo shot in the 11th. Hector Silvestre allowed three runs over six innings and struck out six. Travis Henke blew the save by allowing two runs. Jake Walsh earned the win with three scoreless. Pedro Severino and Tejeda each collected three hits. Tejeda hit two home runs.
Greenville 8, Hagerstown 4: Brett Mooneyham started and allowed two runs and walked five over four innings. Phillips Valdez fired two scoreless. Cody Dent went 2 for 5, both hits triples. John Wooten also had two hits.
Auburn 3, Jamestown 1: Robbie Dickey fired four scoreless innings and allowed only two hits. Chase McDowell earned a two-inning save. Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, Raudy Reed and Cody Gunter each drove in a run.