Nationals cut ties with pitching coach Paul Menhart

After a season where injuries wrecked the starting rotation and ineffectiveness hampered the bullpen, the Nationals have cut ties with pitching coach Paul Menhart following 15 years in the organization.

Menhart, 51, said he received a telephone call from manager Davey Martinez this evening with the news that his contract, which was up on Oct. 31, would not be renewed.

“I’m not sure how to take all of this,” Menhart said in a text message to MASNsports.com. “It’s quite a shock.”

Menhart said he had attempted to reach Mike Rizzo, but has not yet been able to speak with the general manager.

Manhart-Warms-Up-Scherzer-Sidebar.jpg“I have given 15 years to this organization, starting from the bottom, trying to help numerous pitchers achieve their major league dreams,” Menhart said. “Winning a World Series was the icing on the cake. This organization has been very kind to me and my family and I wish them luck in the future.”

The Nationals, through a team spokesman, confirmed that Menhart would be replaced as pitching coach.

Menhart, a longtime minor league pitching coach and coordinator for the Nationals, was promoted to major league pitching coach on May 1, 2019, replacing Derek Lilliquist. Under his tutelage the Nationals pitching staff was able to right the ship after a 19-31 start on their way to the 2019 World Series championship.

Because Menhart had coached extensively in the minor leagues, he had influenced the development of nearly every pitcher in the organization.

Prior to joining the Nats as major league pitching coach, he had served since 2015 as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator.

Before that, he had stints as a pitching coach at Triple-A Syracuse (2014), Double-A Harrisburg (2012-13), Single-A Potomac (2009-11), Single-A Hagerstown (2007-08) and Single-A Savannah (2006).

Menhart had worked extensively with Stephen Strasburg after the right-hander was drafted first overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and was known as the organization’s changeup guru, working with multiple hurlers to master the pitch.

However, in the shortened 2020 season, the Nationals’ 5.09 staff ERA ranked 13th in the National League and 26th in the majors, and their 1.517 WHIP was last in the NL and 29th in the majors. Nats pitchers gave up an NL-high 94 home runs and ranked 29th in the majors. Nationals starters posted a 5.38 ERA, which ranked 27th out of 30 teams.

Menhart spent parts of three seasons in the major leagues, compiling a 5-9 record and 5.47 ERA for the Blue Jays (1996), Mariners (1997) and Padres (1998).

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