The final MLB preview for the 2023 season looks – perhaps fittingly – at the worst team from 2022. The Washington Nationals finished with a 55-107 record that no level of glossing over can make look like anything other than bad. That Nationals finished an astonishing 46 games out of first place, with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets having 101 wins in 2022. The Philadelphia Phillies also had a winning record (87-75), while even the Miami Marlins were 14 games up on the Nats.
The Nationals begin the season at home, though it will be a testing start as they welcome the Braves to Nationals Park for a three-game series beginning on Thursday, March 30. This is followed by a home series with another playoff team from 2022 in the Tampa Bay Rays. The Nats welcome another heavy hitter to DC in the Cleveland Guardians before finishing April with home series against the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Here are three questions for the Nationals ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
How much will they improve?
There is no way that the Nationals can be as bad in 2023 as they were in 2022. They finished last in the Majors by a full five games, and their immediate goal has to be to not finish with the worst record in baseball. Even some dumb luck along the way should see to that, as though the Nationals roster isn’t going to set the world on fire, it also isn’t clearly the worst in the league. The Nationals will also benefit from the new, balanced schedule that sees them play fewer games in the nasty NL East, automatically inflating the win total by not playing the Braves/Mets/Phillies as often.
Can the pitching improve?
Assuming no major changes, the rotation projects as Josiah Gray, Patrick Corbin, Trevor Williams, Cade Cavalli, and Mackenzie Gore. They are fine, but it seemed like everyone had a bad year in 2022. It isn’t inspiring, and they need Corbin to get back to pitching at the level that saw him sign a $140 million deal with the club at the end of the 2018 campaign. If just two of the starters break out – or if someone else breaks through – the staff will be better.
Is there a future with this roster?
This is probably the biggest question for Nationals fans. This is clearly not a roster that can compete in 2023, but is there a point at which it could in the future? There are talented youngsters, but there aren’t many of them. Reclamation projects are all over the roster, with some about running through their time in the big leagues. The farm isn’t producing legions of talent either, so it is hard to see where a significant change in fortune comes from without major spending over the next few years.