After a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night, Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo announced the team has let go of pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.
Just a few moments ago Mike Rizzo met with the media and announced the Washington Nationals have parted ways with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. Paul Menhart, who currently is the Nationals minor league pitching coach, will replace Lilliquist.
In his press conference, Rizzo stated that there were “preparation issues” that could have led to this decision to let go of Lilliquist. Tweet via Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic.
Lilliquist took over as the Nationals pitching coach in 2018 after Mike Maddux was let go when Washington parted ways with Dusty Baker. In 2016 and 2017 under Maddux Washington was top three in the National League in team E.R.A. In 2018, Lilliquist’s first year, Washington finished ninth in the National League with a 4.04 team E.R.A.
Paul Menhart, who will replace Lilliquist, has been in the Nationals organization for 14 years.
At the Major League level, there is not as much to coach the players on as there is for a pitching coach as at other levels, but there clearly was a disconnect with the Nationals. Whether it was a lack of preparation, i.e. watching film, or just overall was not a good fit, Washington clearly felt it was a big enough issue to make this move now.
With Lilliquist gone, it will be interesting to see if the Nationals pitchers start to perform better than they have to this point. I think it is fair to say that Lilliquist being there or not will not be a huge factor in if Washington makes it to the postseason, but it may help to have a fresh face and voice in the room with the pitching staff.
For Mike Rizzo and the Nationals to make this move after a game like this, there had to be a clear disconnect between Lilliquist and the organization. Moving forward we will have to see if Paul Menhart can have a positive effect on the Washington pitching staff that Lilliquist appeared to not have.