Washington’s Nationals finished the 2022 campaign 55-107 overall; 46.0 games out of first place in the NL East, and 14.0 games behind the 4th place Miami Marlins.
It did not help that the Nats finished the year 17-59 against their NL East rivals (5-14 against Atlanta; 4-15 against Miami; 5-14 against New York; and 3-16 against Philadelphia, with five straight losses and 13 of 17 in the division to wrap up the ‘22 schedule.
“We got go play better, we’ve got to play clean baseball,” manager Davey Martinez said on the final day of the regular season, when asked what his club needed to do to improve against the other NL East teams, three of whom made it to the postseason this year.
“I think it all starts with starting pitching, as I always say,” Martinez added, with a middle of the order bat or two another obvious need identified by the manager. But the starting pitching in particular was the skipper’s focus. “The teams in our division, their starting pitching is really, really good. I mean, so we got to beat them up a little bit. We always talk about trying to score first, but we got to get better at that, and try to knock those guys out of the game early and then go from there.”
“You can never have enough starting pitching,” Rizzo said at the GM Meetings earlier this month, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty. “That’s going to be a point of emphasis for us, to really look at the market as a whole.”
“In their 107 losses,” the Nationals noted in their Season in Review, the team “scored just 254 runs (2.4 runs/game) while hitting .225/.283/.327, [and their] pitchers recorded a 6.28 ERA and a .289 opponents’ batting average in losses.”
“On the season,” the Nats noted at another point, “the bullpen ranked in the National League in walks per 9.0 innings (5th, 3.32), ERA (6th 3.84), WHIP (7th, 1.28), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7th, 2.49).”
“Our bullpen, for me, it’s been one of the brightest spots we had all year,” Martinez said. “Those guys endured a lot. But we definitely need to get some starting pitching that can go deeper in games, and hopefully [MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin, and Cade Cavalli], and then some others, we can do that.”
As he said following the Nationals’ loss to the Mets in the season finale, the change starts at home in the division.
“We definitely got to start here now,” he told reporters, “and I look back, and a lot of games, other than these last few, we played in our division, we were right there, we competed, but we got to get back and we got to finish some of those games, and get to our bullpen and get those guys honed down. This division is good, I’ve always said this division is going to be tough. In order to compete, we need some pieces, and we’re going to give an opportunity to our younger players, and what I saw from our younger players — that they’re not afraid and they’re going to go out and compete.”
With the balanced schedule in 2023, the Nationals play their divisional rivals just 13 times each. They went 38-48 against the rest of the league last year. So… that’s a positive, right?