It is a shame that the Washington Nationals, despite marvelous offensive power, continue to lose games they should be winning. One reason for this has been the unwillingness of the owners to spend the money required to build a contending team. Recently, however, I have been forced to conclude that the pitching coach, Randy St. Clair, might be responsible (at least in part) for the sad state of the relief corps. While good pitchers are hard to find, the pitchers with high expectations have actually regressed.
When Joel Hanrahan came up several years ago, he started several games and was impressive with his “give me the ball” attitude; now he lacks confidence completely. Mike Hinckley was unjustly touted as a promising rookie in 2005 but, after spending several years in the minors, performed well last year, going 13 innings without being scored upon. And yet this year he flopped. Despite pitching very well at times, Jason Bergmann currently seems to be forgotten. Jordan Zimmermann’s first two games this year were great, but his most recent efforts have been disappointing. All of these men have shown promise, but none seems to have improved. They have gotten worse.
Evaluating coaches is difficult, but everyone will agree that Rick Eckstein’s job as the hitting coach has shown great results. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the case with St. Clair. In the realm of national politics, “change” is not necessarily as good as advertised. In the case of the Nationals, however, a change in the pitching coach would be a cause for hope.