Washington’s Nationals are back in last place in the NL East after back-to-back losses to Miami, four straight losses overall, and losses in six of their last seven, so there are no illusions about the reality they are playing out the final weeks of the 2023 campaign.
Davey Martinez explained recently why it’s an important few weeks for both the big league club and the organization as a whole.
“For me it’s all about trying to finish this year really, really well,” Martinez told reporters, “… and understanding that in order to get to the next level, which is the playoffs for us, this month really counts, and I want to see which guys are ready for that, but all in all it’s all about today. We talk all the time about going 1-0 today, so let’s focus on today and try to go 1-0 today.”
So, yes, Martinez is staying on brand, and focusing on being where his feet are, etc. as is his M.O., but he also wants to see how his club handles themselves playing against some teams headed for the postseason.
Over the course of the regular season, he has seen his club come together as a group and develop real chemistry they can build on going forward as they supplement the core group from within and outside the organization and try to get back to the postseason themselves.
What has he liked of what he’s seen from the team recently?
“The consistency,” Martinez said, “the stuff that we worked on with them throughout the year, you’re starting to see it more consistently, which is awesome, but I think they’ve learned a lot. With the success of winning comes confidence, and I think right now they’re all very confident that they can go out there and repeat everything on a daily basis and compete, compete to go 1-0 every day. So, this group is fun. This group has been really fun. They work hard. They play with a lot of heart. One thing I’ve noticed over the last month and a half is they’ve really become one unit and have really played for one another, which is awesome.”
The culture in the clubhouse new call-ups and additions encounter is different as well.
“I think the expectations that these guys have set right now,” Martinez explained recently, “is that, ‘Hey, when you come up here, be ready to play.’
“‘Because we want to win games. We’re not just up here trying to rebuild. We’re trying to compete and win games, and they’re playing really well.”
As they’ve been evaluating the talent in what they’re hoping will be the next competitive team in the nation’s capital, Martinez said he’s learned a lot about the group as a whole.
“I’ve been encouraged about how relentless they are,” he said, “and how they play hard for 27 outs, they never feel like they’re ever out of any game. And we get good starting pitching, our bullpen seems to be good, we’re getting timely hitting, so everything has been good. They’re starting to really play for one another, which is fun to watch.”
Veteran starter Patrick Corbin, who is in the next-to-last season of his six-year/$140M deal with the club talked on the last road trip about the importance of staying focused over the final weeks of the season for his younger teammates.
The goal he said, is a simple one.
“Continue to go out there, try to win as many games as we can,” Corbin said.
“I think for a lot of younger guys, this last month is going to be something new to them.
“So just interesting to see how that plays out and some of these guys can finish the season strong and that’s what I’m looking to do.”
While they obviously want to win as many games as possible, Martinez said he also wants to continue to evaluate the talent they assembled over the last few years as they’ve rebooted the system and tried to build the next contender.
“I kind of want to see everybody. We’re in a position right now where we’d love to win games, but we also want to build for the future.
“Watching some of these young guys play … you see how their future lies with us. They’re all going to get an opportunity to play.”
Breaking: Johnny DiPuglia, the Nationals' longtime director of international scouting, has resigned. The reasons were not immediately known Saturday morning. DiPuglia had been an assistant GM since after the 2019 season.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) September 2, 2023