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Washington Nationals’ 2023 Rotation: Cade Cavalli ready; building for ‘23…

Cade Cavalli made it to the majors last summer. Now he has to figure out how to stay…

Cincinnati Reds v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Davey Martinez told reporters at the 2022 Winter Meetings, in early December, he’d recently spoken with 24-year-old, 2020 1st Rounder Cade Cavalli, who was raring to go after making his debut in the major leagues late last season, before a right shoulder issue shut him down in September.

Cavalli put in the work over the last few weeks of the season, but didn’t return to the mound for Washington, with the Nationals making a decision to take a more cautious route with the top pitching prospect in the organization.

Cavalli made 20 starts, and threw 97 total innings at Triple-A Rochester last summer, giving up 39 walks (3.62 BB/9), and striking out 104 (9.65 K/9), while holding opposing hitters to a .215 batting average on the year, with a 3.71 ERA and 3.24 FIP in his second full season in the Nats’ system.

He made his MLB debut on August 26th, giving up six hits, two walks, and seven earned runs in 4 1⁄3 IP, over which he threw 99 pitches, before the shoulder issue (inflammation) cropped up for Cavalli in between-starts work.

When Martinez spoke to the right-hander this winter, however, he said Cavalli was healed up and excited to get going as he prepared for 2023.

“Cade said he’s ready to fire the ball, and I told him, well, don’t do that yet. We’ve got plenty of time. But he’s fired up,” the Nationals’ skipper explained.

“I’ve seen a lot of him in the minor leagues,” Martinez added at another point.

“We didn’t see much of him in the major leagues, but this guy is a competitor. He’s young, but I know that he wants the ball.

“He’s eager. He’s hungry. I’m looking forward to getting him in Spring Training and seeing what he can do.

“I think he’s going to have an unbelievable career, but like I said, he’s still young, and he’s still young to pitching. The biggest thing is that he comes to Spring Training healthy.”

Provided he does come into camp healthy, and stays that way heading into Opening Day, the manager said Cavalli earned the opportunity to start the season as part of the big league rotation.

“I’ve got him penciled in as a starter for us, and rightfully so,” Martinez told reporters.

“I think he’s earned it. Like I said, he checked all the boxes for us last year in Triple-A. He was going to get an opportunity to pitch. Obviously got hurt. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”

In a mid-December appearance on MASN’s Hot Stove show, Cavalli said he was hard at work preparing for the 2023 season, and the shoulder felt fine.

“It’s feeling really good,” Cavalli said. “I started throwing two weeks ago, and I’m following our plan and all is good there.”

Asked how he would know his shoulder was healed up and he was good to go, Cavalli said he’s confident he’s okay now.

“I think I am so I’m just going to trust it and I’m not going to worry about it too much,” he said.

“I’m going to go about my work the way I do,” Cavalli continued. “And we’ve been on a really good shoulder program so I’m trusting that and I’ve been hammering that, getting it stronger and I think that’s the big step, is just getting stronger, and making my sequence a little bit cleaner on my lower half and get the energy transferred to the right areas, and it’s been big doing that and I’m really excited about where it’s headed.”

This winter he’s preparing for the rigors of a full major league season, so he was asked if he’s approaching things any differently, but Cavalli said he is going about things as he usually does.

“It really doesn’t change for me,” he told the MASN hosts.

“I’m going to prepare the way I do which is I’m preparing like it’s Game 7 of the World Series every day. That’s how my mind works, and I just love working that way, and I believe that doing it any other way wouldn’t benefit me, so it doesn’t change much. I’m just trusting the plan that was written for me, getting after it, and getting my mind right for it.”