Washington Nationals: Meet the 2018 coaches

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Talk about filling in big shoes, Derek Lilliquist gets the unenviable role of replacing Mike Maddux as pitching coach.

After 15 years in the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a bullpen or pitching coach, Lilliquist inherits one of the top staffs in baseball. With the Cards, he was on the staff of two NL Championships in 2011 and 2013. He filled in for Dave Duncan at the end of the Cards World Series winning 2011 season.

Before coaching, Lilliquist spent a decade as a reliever. A journeyman, his longest stint with a team was three years in the mid-90s with the Cleveland Indians.

In Washington, he will be key in any audition of a new fifth starter if the Nats fail to sign or trade for one this winter. If Brandon Kintzler leaves via free agency, Lilliquist will shape either Koda Glover or Enny Romero for the seventh-inning role.

As with the hitters, the glaring weaknesses in the pitching are few. But, they are noticeable. Can he keep Gio Gonzalez focused the right way? What about restoring Tanner Roark’s confidence after his playoff snub?

Lilliquist goes into West Palm Beach with his hands full. Still, two Cy Young candidates are a nice problem to have.