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.