Mike Rizzo says the Nationals are better than the Braves

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I have no idea what the Nationals’ obsession is with saying they’re better than the Braves while getting their butts handed to them in mid-April series, but they’ve gone and done it again.

Last year the Braves swept the Nats in a three-game series that took place April 12-14. In between games two and three of that series, Danny Espinosa and Stephen Strasburg both said that they weren’t impressed with Atlanta and that, in their opinion, the Nats are better than the Braves.

Flash forward exactly one year, between games two and three of a Nats-Braves series and here’s Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo:

So of course the Braves won yesterday to sweep the Nats once again.

Over the past two seasons Atlanta is 18-7 against the Nationals and won the division over them by ten games last year. One would think that, eventually, someone on that club might at least be open to the possibility that they’re not quite as superior as they fancy themselves.

Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio

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In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.

The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.

Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.

Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.

There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.