PLAYER REVIEW: ANDRES MACHADO
Age on opening day 2023: 29
How acquired: Signed as minor league free agent, February 2021
MLB service time: 1 year, 86 days
2022 salary: $708,200
Contract status: Under team control, arbitration-eligible in 2025, free agent in 2028
2022 stats: 2-0, 3.34 ERA, 51 G, 0 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 55 H, 32 R, 22 ER, 7 HR, 26 BB, 46 SO, 2 HBP, 1.365 WHIP, 117 ERA+, 4.51 FIP, -0.1 fWAR, 0.1 bWAR
Quotable: “He’s gone up and down a few times and really worked on the things that we’ve talked to him about. Now he’s continuing to knock the door down.” – Davey Martinez
2022 analysis: A member of the Nationals’ opening day bullpen, Andres Machado spent his year shuttling back and forth between Washington and Rochester. He was optioned to Triple-A four different times, only one fewer time than Major League Baseball’s new limit for a single season.
That did not, however, mean Machado wasn’t effective, because he was for several sustained stretches. During a 13-game stretch from June 16-July 17, he allowed one earned run while posting an 0.786 WHIP. Over his final 17 appearances, he was not charged with an earned run while posting a 1.119 WHIP.
Machado’s best skill was an ability to pitch his way out of jams created by others. He allowed only 16 percent of inherited runners to score (4-of-25), which ranked fourth among all National League relievers. And that success prompted Martinez to use him in more situations of consequence as the season progressed.
2023 outlook: Machado certainly doesn’t rank as high on the Nationals’ bullpen depth chart as Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey or Tanner Rainey (once he returns from Tommy John surgery next summer). But he has moved his way up the ladder to the point he should come to spring training with a better chance at making the opening day roster than not.
Machado has proven to be quite effective against right-handed hitters, who batted just .187/.291/.325 against him this year. He was not nearly as effective against lefties, who batted a robust .305/.350/.495. To improve that disparity, he’ll have to be more effective with his four-seam fastball, which opponents belted to the tune of a .322 average and .621 slugging percentage. Or he’ll have to figure out how to throw his sinker (.164 average, zero extra-base hits) to lefties more.
Though he’s not often thought of as an established entity, Machado does own a 3.41 ERA over 91 big league appearances for the Nationals the last two seasons. That would seem to be enough of a sample to suggest he can stick up here for a while. One odd cause for concern, though: He allowed 10 unearned runs this year, a number topped on the staff only by Patrick Corbin (who threw far more innings). Maybe that means Machado would benefit even more from better defense behind him. Or maybe it also means he hasn’t actually been as effective as the numbers suggest.