The Nationals new pitching coach may have thrown his bosses under the bus

It's tough to keep a secret these days. That's especially true when the main party entrusted with said secret information lets it fly the first opportunity they get.

That seems to be the story surrounding the Washington Nationals and Paul Menhart, who was officially promoted to pitching coach following Thursday's 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.

During his introductory news conference on Friday, Menhart revealed something regarding his promotion that the Nationals almost certainly wanted to keep under wraps.

Outgoing pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was informed of his dismissal immediately following Thursday’s game. The team then quickly announced that Menhart would be taking over on an interim basis, which is expected to cover the remainder of the season.

Based on the swiftness of the Nationals actions, it was clear this move had been in motion well before the announcement. But Menhart’s surprising openness clued us in on a timeline that paints Lilliquist as a dead man walking for 48 hours.

That’s not good business.

It’s not clear who all was clued in advance of the change. Obviously it’s not something the players would know, but it seems likely that manager Davey Martinez would have had some involvement in that decision making.

What would be most interesting to know is if Lilliquist could sense it was coming. It’s reported he prepared for his final three games just as he had for every game dating back to his hiring before the 2018 season. So if he did, he didn’t let it show.

The Nationals had also been pitching like a team that was hoping to save their coach’s job. Lilliquist’s firing came directly after the team’s best pitching stretch of the season against St. Louis.

The team’s recent performances had been promising enough that closer Sean Doolittle felt they were turning a corner.

The overall numbers are not as rosy. The team will enter the weekend with the second-worst bullpen ERA in MLB (5.87) and the eighth-worst overall ERA (4.82). From a baseball perspective, you could argue the change makes sense.

In terms of how it was handled, well, that appears to be a different story. It’s difficult to say with complete certainty that the Nationals botched the process without having all of the necessary information. But based on Menhart’s revelation, they did a very poor job.

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