More on Menhart's exit and his possible successor with the Nats

On May 2, 2019, the Nationals elected to fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and replace him with Paul Menhart, who had been with the organization since 2006.

Menhart guided the Nats through rough waters in May last year, then helped the Nats bullpen turn the season around. At 12 games below the .500 mark on May 24, the Nats would ultimately earn a National League wild card spot and finish the miraculous comeback season with a world championship.

Thumbnail image for baseballs-generic-art-nats.jpgBut nearly 12 months later, the Nats have elected to not renew Menhart's contract, and the pitching coach has confirmed he has been let go.

This surprising news comes after the Nats finished at a disappointing 26-34 this regular season. The club ended with a team ERA of 5.09, which ranked 13th out of 15 NL teams. The Nats allowed a league-high 94 home runs. Nats relievers' ERA totaled 4.68, which was fourth-worst in the NL.

Relievers Will Harris and Daniel Hudson struggled at times during the season. Tanner Rainey and Sean Doolittle fought injuries. No fewer than 10 Nats pitchers ended the season on the injured list.

Menhart was not able to work much this abbreviated season with Stephen Strasburg, who managed to appeared in only two games, the last on Aug. 14. Strasburg was shut down soon after being placed on the IL and had surgery on his right hand to correct carpal tunnel neuritis. The 2019 World Series MVP not being able to pitch this season severely hampered the starting rotation.

During the World Series, Menhart diagnosed that Strasburg was tipping his pitches early in Game 6. Menhart had advised Strasburg to start fanning his glove between pitches as he gripped the baseball so the Astros could not decipher his choice of next pitch. Houston scored two runs in the first, but that was it, as Strasburg lasted 8 1/3 innings in the Nats' thrilling 7-2 comeback win to force Game 7.

It was something that Menhart had worked on with Strasburg earlier in the season when they took on the Diamondbacks.

Last night, Menhart said that manager Davey Martinez did not give him a clear-cut reason for his dismissal. After finding out the news, Menhart said: "I'm not sure how to take all of this. It's quite a shock. I have given 15 years to this organization, starting from the bottom, trying to help numerous pitchers achieve their major league dreams."

Moving forward, it would make sense that current minor league pitching coordinator Brad Holman would be the favorite to take over the reins as the Nats pitching coach. The Nationals confirmed Menhart had been let go, but no other changes had been put forth as of late Saturday night.

Holman was the bullpen coach for the Texas Rangers from November 2015 through the 2017 campaign. He became the pitching coach of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in 2018, and then went on to Fresno in the same spot in 2019 when the Grizzlies became the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate.

Holman worked with dozens of Nats pitchers at the alternate training site for three months and is currently focusing on working with more than Nats 30 pitchers, including top picks Jackson Rutledge, Cade Cavalli, Seth Romero and Mason Denaburg at the instructional league workouts in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was elevated to the position of minor league pitching coordinator to begin the 2020 campaign, with Michael Tejera taking Holman's spot as Triple-A Fresno pitching coach.

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