Krol has been a mainstay in the bullpen for much of the season and was optioned to Triple-A less than two weeks ago to make room for Ross Ohlendorf, who was coming off the disabled list. In his short stint at Syracuse, Krol said that he focused on throwing his curveball in the dirt for strikeouts and getting full extension in his delivery. The left-hander also built confidence against Triple-A hitters.
"I got a lot of swing-and-misses down there, and I wasn't getting that up here with my fastball," he said. "Guys were just kind of spitting on it if I was trying to hit the inside part of the plate or whatever. Down there, [it] definitely builds your confidence when you see a guy swing through your pitch and you make a good pitch."
Davis was also a familiar face in the Nationals' clubhouse Sunday after his brief stint with the team in June. The 26-year-old posted a 6.23 ERA in five appearances with the Nationals before returning to Syracuse, where he has mostly pitched in late innings.
Davis noticed that he was approaching the mound differently depending on the inning and situation in the game. He said that his primary focus over the past two months has been to bring his ninth-inning approach to each of his appearances.
"It's taking that same approach, that same kind of fire, into every outing, no matter what the scoreboard says," the right-hander said. "Hopefully this month, I can just continue to refine my approach and hopefully put myself in a good spot for next year."
The biggest surprise of the group was the 24-year-old Leon, a reliable defensive catcher who hit .177 in 95 games at Double-A Harrisburg this season. Leon, who is ranked as the Nationals' No. 15 prospect, admitted that he has been struggling at the plate recently and said that he was looking forward to working with hitting coach Rick Schu. He said that his troubles have been more mental than mechanical.
"I think too aggressive, sometimes too aggressive at pitches and you've got to be smart, too," Leon said. "So I think just to calm down in the game and just relax and see what happens."
Johnson said Friday that it is important to have an emphasis on this season but also an eye on the future. All three players understand that the final month could serve as an audition for next season and beyond.
"I've learned so much since I've been up here. Being around guys that have been doing it for three, four years helps so much more," Krol said. "So I definitely want to finish strong, want to take whatever happens up here in the next month and bring it into the offseason, think about it and work on some things."