Now-former Nationals’ pitching coach Paul Menhart told Federal Baseball’s David Driver last week that he was, “... a little disappointed with some of the injuries,” on Washington’s roster, though he considered it “inevitable and unfortunate” after pitchers had only three weeks to ramp up in Spring Training 2.0 for the start of the 60-game 2020 season, once players were informed of a start date for the pandemic-delayed season in July.
“I wish there was a better way to get them ready for this (60-game) sprint,” Menhart added.
“I don’t have an answer for what we could have done differently.”
According to reports tonight, first by MASN’s Byron Kerr, and subsequently confirmed by a number of writers and Menhart himself, the Nationals decided to go a different direction in terms of their pitching staff next season, parting ways with the one-time pitching coach in the minors and pitching coordinator for the entire organization, who was promoted to the big league job when the team parted ways with his predecessor, Derek Lilliquist, in May of 2019.
MASN’s Kerr reported tonight that Menhart, “received a telephone call from manager Davey Martinez this evening with the news that his contract, which was up on Oct. 31, would not be renewed.”
Menhart provided the same statement on the news he received to both MASN’s Kerr and The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli (as posted on Twitter):
“I’m not sure how to take all of this. It’s quite a shock. I have given 15 years to this organization, starting from the bottom, trying to help numerous pitchers achieve their major league dreams. Winning a World Series was the icing on the cake. This organization has been very kind to me and my family and I wish them luck in the future.”
The Nationals, according to Kerr, confirmed the news that Menhart will be replaced heading into the 2020 campaign.
Menhart helped the club to the 2019 World Series after taking over in the role in 2019, but the pitching staff, as a whole, struggled through an up and down 60 games this past year, finishing the season with a 5.20 ERA (26th of 30 MLB teams), a 5.02 FIP (27th), a .269 BAA (4th highest), and a 1.52 WHIP (2nd highest), with a number of pitchers injured, including Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey, Dakota Bacus, James Bourque, Sam Freeman, Javy Guerra, and Sean Doolittle.
There’s no word so far as to whether the other members of Martinez’s coaching staff will be returning for a fourth season on the bench along with the skipper, who signed on long-term deal a week back after GM Mike Rizzo agreed to a long-term extension with the Nationals as well.
Now the Nats will start to search for what will be the sixth pitching coach in the nation’s capital since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005, and third since Martinez took over as manager back in October of 2017, with Randy St. Claire (2005-09), Steve McCatty (2009-15), Mike Maddux (2016-17), Lilliquist (18-19), and now Menhart (19-20) all coming and going over the years.