JUNKIES: Are Martinez's days as manager numbered?

Ben Krimmel
May 09, 2019 - 10:40 am
Are Dave Martinez's days numbered as Washington Nationals manager?

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The hot seat has not gotten any cooler.

The Washington Nationals are through six games of a crucial 10-game road trip and have just one win to show for it. Currently, they sit in fourth place in the National League East, closer to the cellar-dweller Miami Marlins than the front-running Philadelphia Phillies. The record: 14-22. 

And Dave Martinez's days as manager of the Nationals could be numbered.

The question now: How much runway does Martinez have left?

"If it's embarrassing in LA, if it's embarrassing and they get swept, back-to-back sweeps, maybe," John Auville of The Sports Junkies said Thursday. 

There, of course, are extenuating circumstances: No team in Major League Baseball has had worse injury luck in 2019 than Washington. Just a beginning of a season with injury after injury.

"A lot of it's not his fault," Eric Bickel said. "(But) there has to be a fall guy. That's fine. There has to be a fall guy, I've accepted it. I also know that he's not special, I know that. So it's not like you're losing anything if you let (Martinez) go." 

Bickel raises another point: The Nationals just fired pitching coach Derek Lilliquist last week. Firing Martinez so soon after that decision makes it look like the team is flailing. 

"It makes it look like your organization like you're rudderless. Like you're flailing," Bickel said. "On the heels of just firing the pitching coach, it just... so is there going to be a whole staff change? Just drop it all?"

But, if the Nationals now realize hiring Martinez was a mistake, J.P. Flaim argues, isn't it smart to rectify that mistake as soon as possible?

"Why delay? If you've come to a determination, 'We've made a mistake and this season is heading in the wrong direction.' And yes, it is a grasp to bring in an outside manager or to elevate somebody who is already on the staff, it's a grasp. It's throwing out a life preserver, but at least you then have a shot."

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo doesn't seem to be panicked yet.

"This team is just too good, too talented to give up on with 80 percent of the season left. Although disappointed and upset, I still have optimism that we're gonna turn this thing around," he told The Junkies on Wednesday morning.

After pointing to the numerous people on the Injured List, Rizzo said, "Once we get those guys back, I think the offense and the defense will stabilize and I think we'll really get a gauge on what type of chance and what type of team that we have going forward in the last 80 percent of the season."

To Auville, "The firing of Lilliquist buys Davey, at least, a month... unless (the situation) becomes untenable."

However, all of that could change after four games in Los Angeles against one of the best teams in baseball.

"If they come back here and on Monday (after a poor series against the Dodgers and) Rizzo pulls him into his office and says, 'Look we just gotta do something,'" Flaim said.

"But if you lose those eight in a row and (the Nats) were a team that was supposed to contend. Would you be stunned if it happened?" Flaim asked.

"No, I wouldn't be stunned at all," Auville answered. 

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