The Washington Nationals prepare for the future as the big league club struggles at the start of 2022…
Where to find the positives amid a 6-15 start and an eight-game losing streak?
That streak was just six Ls in a row when the Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke to 106.7 the fan in DC’s Sports Junkies Wednesday morning and was asked about his positives from the first month of the 2022 season.
“Some of our young players are progressing as we hoped and thought they would,” Rizzo said. “You saw last night with Josiah Gray taking 10 guys out, going into the sixth inning, you can see the progression of that guy. He has a chance to be a real strength for us on the road, and I think you can see he’s learning something and getting better every time. Even with [Joan] Adon and [Keibert] Ruiz and the young group of guys we have. I think that’s the biggest positive I took away from the season.
Manager Davey Martinez spoke on Wednesday night ahead of the second straight loss to the Miami Marlins about his club’s pressure as losses have piled up over the past few weeks.
“I started to feel some pressure a few days ago,” Martinez explained, “so I’ve been having conversations with guys to relax a bit and not chase after the game. Go ahead and try you can’t hit a five run home run you know just go out there see some pitches get on the base walk around do the little things but yeah when you start losing 4-5 games in a row you start trying to create a little bit more than we are capable of creating, we have to play good solid fundamental baseball.
There’s help on the way at some point this season, with rehab starters Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg progressing through their respective rehab programs at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, in Florida, and there’s help on the farm, where Luis García is giving Triple-A pitchers nightmares (.360/.407/.613 line with three doubles, two triples and four home runs in the first 17 games with the Rochester Red Wings), and top pitcher Cade Cavalli is working toward getting closer to the majors for the first time.
When will we see the 21-year-old shortstop or right-hander in the majors?
“We know [García is] future at shortstop,” Rizzo told the Junkies.
“We recognize that [shortstop Alcides Escobar] is struggling at the major league level and Luis is thriving offensively at the minor league level, but I want to make sure he’s ready to play all facets of major league play when he gets here because when he gets here , he’s going to play every day, and we’re going to count on him because he’s a big part of the future.
As for Cavalli? The 23-year-old right-hander gave up 12 points in three starts and 12 IP at the start of this season after rising through the ranks from High-A to Triple-A in 2021 and making the case for a spot in the day’s rotation opener this spring, although he was eventually sent to the minor league’s top affiliate before the game opened earlier this month.
“He pitched on Sunday,” Rizzo told Sports Junkies this week.
“He threw four good innings, I think he gave up four runs, or something, struck out a few, but he’s exactly where we want him to be. He’s learning his craft every days and we just try to give him regular innings and control his innings to make sure he has some innings left when we decide to reach for him.
Barring any injuries, setbacks or struggles, we should see the Nationals’ first pick of the 2020 draft in DC at some point in the near future.
“He’s a big part of the future that we’re looking for here in Washington,” Rizzo said, “and I think you’ll see the light of day in the not-too-distant future where you’re running out of 4-5, 23-year-old starting pitchers. and less for us in the future when you have Adon and Gray and Cole Henry and Cavalli and the rest of those guys who are about to get into the big leagues and be performers for us.”
So… when might we see an influx of more of these young prospects coming out of the minor league system to help out in the majors?
“These guys – player development doesn’t have a clock,” Rizzo said.
“Everyone has their own schedule, and we have an individual plan for each guy, and the plan can’t be rushed. And you can’t say that because of your chronological age, you’re Tier X, the Each player’s performance and development will dictate where they go.