Washington’s Nationals finished the 2022 campaign up at 55-107 overall; a full 46.0 games out of first place in the NL East, and a total 14.0 games behind the fourth place Miami Marlins in the division.
It did not help that the Nationals finished the year 17-59 against their divisional 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 their ‘22 schedule.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked late in the year about turning a corner and getting back to competing in the East again and what his club would have to do.
How do they close the gap?
“We got go play better, we’ve got to play clean baseball,” Martinez said over the final weekend of the 2022 season.
“I think it all starts with starting pitching, as I always say. 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.”
Later the same day, Martinez shared his thoughts in more depth when asked for another take on competing in the NL East.
“We definitely got to start here now,” he said. “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.”
Looking back on the season, Martinez told reporters this winter, he liked the fight from his club down the stretch, and he stressed that he wanted the club to put the 2022 season behind them and keep building.
“I want — what I want them to come to Spring Training knowing is that everybody starts fresh, right?” Martinez said. “We’re young, but we can compete. I don’t want them to think that, hey, we’re rebuilding. No, we’re here to compete, and we’re trying to win as many games as possible, and that’s going to be the message.
“I’ve sent that message at the end of the season, and I want them to understand that, hey, losing 100 games is not acceptable. It’s not. We’re going to get better. So I want them to come to Spring Training knowing we’re going to compete and compete to win every day.”
In a season preview with our sister site here at the SB Nation, The Good Phight asked us what it will take for the club to get back in the mix in the NL East in ‘22.
Q: The National League East is probably the second strongest division in the game today. What will it take for your team to get into playoff contention, either by winning the division or securing a wild card spot?
A: What will it take? A minor miracle? I don’t think anyone is really considering the 2023 Nationals as a threat to make the postseason at this point in their rebuild, reboot, reset or whatever. GM Mike Rizzo has repeatedly pointed to the 2009-12 rebuild the club went through as a blueprint for what the organization is trying to do now, which if taken literally would have the Nats close to .500 at the end of this season and maybe surprising some folks along the way as the young talent develops and the free agents signed this winter bounce back as hoped and bring back more prospect depth if they’re dealt at the trade deadline. So the club can keep on building the next contender while the pillars of that future club mature and make progress and they assess where they’re at and potentially begin adding via trade and free agency for their next run.”
Here’s the rest of the 2023 preview we contributed to: