Nationals fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist

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The Nats got a nice performance from starter Stephen Strasburg last night but that didn’t save their pitching coach: General Manager Mike Rizzo fired Derek Lilliquist after the game. Minor league pitching coordinator Paul Menhart was promoted to replace him.

The Nationals have disappointed so far this year, particularly on the mound. The club came into yesterday’s game with a 4.95 starter’s ERA which was 13th out of 15 NL teams. The relievers have been worse, ranking last in the NL with a 6.02 ERA. Rizzo’s statement about the move:

“We felt that both the rotation and the bullpen, we thought that we had some flaws in there. We thought that there [were] preparation issues in there, and we thought that we wanted to get a new message and a new voice.”

Often times a coach firing is the first step. If things don’t change, the manager tends to find himself in the crosshairs. Rizzo offered support for manager Dave Martinez, though, saying “I can’t find a lot of examples of malpractice by the manager,” and “The performance goes to the players, and the players are on the roster because I put them there.”

Washington is 13-17 and sits in fourth place in the NL East, four games behind the division-leading Phillies.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.