Mike Rizzo 'frustrated' and 'pissed' at Nationals' performance

Chris Lingebach
May 22, 2019 - 4:41 pm

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says he was "frustrated" and "pissed" at his club's performance in Tuesday's loss to the Mets, in which the Nats blew three separate leads.

After 48 games, they're now nine games back in the NL East and 10 games under .500.

"Definitely frustrated, pissed at performance and that type of thing," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies on 'In The Clubhouse,' presented by Burke & Herbert Bank. "Satisfied with the energy level, the effort and the fight the team shows every night. I give 'em credit for that. It's just the performance level, it's not adequate."

"We haven't been in this position for nine years, since 2011," he said. "We're 10 games under, we're not playing very good baseball, and the most frustrating part about the whole thing for me, and for a lot of the coaching staff and the players, is this is a winnable division. It's still a winnable division.

"We're gonna be in a dog fight with the Phillies and the Mets and the Braves all year, and we think that we match up favorably with each and every one of those teams. We've shown it in the past. We've dominated the Mets over the last seven years. I think we're 84-56 against them over that span. We're 82-59 against the Phillies. And this year, we've played 'em both tough."

"Yeah we're frustrated," he went on to say. "But we still believe in the talent level on this club and we've got to keep fighting. And we've got a tough matchup today with deGrom, but we've got Mad Max Scherzer on the mound, so I feel good about our chances."

The Junkies asked the GM and president of baseball operations if he's ever had a season where "so many guys under-perform in one season, especially with the bullpen."

"Yeah. The seasons like that are few and far between, but they do happen," Rizzo said. "And when that happens you have to make adjustments. So you've seen that we've brought new guys in, we've kind of tried some new guys. We also have six pitchers on the disabled list – four relievers and two starters on the DL.

"We went and reached for Tanner Rainey, who showed that he's got Major League stuff and kind of a reliable guy that can throw it over the plate. And we think that he'll help us. We went out and got Javy Guerra, who's a proven veteran relief pitcher, who you trust is going to throw strikes and give you a chance to win and that type of thing."

"So we're looking for all avenues to improve ourselves bullpen-wise," he continued. "And as our lineup kind of gets whole and gets healthy, we feel that we're gonna score enough runs. Lately with our starters going short within their starts, we've had to really lean on the bullpen the last four or five games."

"You see the bullpen being strained and taxed," he added. "And it's time for guys to show what they can do and see if they can make their money in the big leagues by performing, and so far, we have to upgrade the performance levels."

Rizzo was asked to answer to fan concerns that the Nationals are willing to invest money in the starting rotation while neglecting to do so with the bullpen. Washington acquired starter Patrick Corbin for six years and $140 million in free agency last offseason. The club also paid $7 million to acquire veteran reliever Trevor Rosenthal early in free agency, an acquisition that hasn't panned out so far.

Greg Holland, on the other hand, did not re-sign with Washington after a brief stint here last summer. After pitching to a 2-0 record with three saves, four holds and a 0.84 ERA in 24 appearance for the Nats, Holland went on to sign with Arizona, where he currently holds a 1-0 record with a 1.69 ERA.

"You certainly have to allocate your resources in the best possible way," Rizzo said. "We felt that Patrick Corbin was a necessity for us to try and acquire. We felt good that we could get him. He's an All-Star caliber pitcher. He gives us a big part of our Big Three, and a guy we can run out to the mound every night and feel good that you're gonna win that game.

"And people forget, Holland was a guy we picked up mid-season last year, and made him from a player that the Cardinals released making a lot of money, to a very valuable pitcher for us down the stretch. You know, he was a guy that we talked to, that we tried to sign. We just couldn't get it done."

"But we recognize the importance of the bullpen," he said. "Again, it's about asset allocation, and we felt that getting a starting pitcher like a Corbin, that can pitch 200 innings for you, was a priority for us. That's kind of the way we allocated our resources in the offseason. We feel really good about having Patrick here for the long haul and I think he's gonna be a huge asset for us moving forward."

Every week, all baseball season, if any Washington player hits for the cycle during a Wednesday game, one lucky fan wins a cool $100K. Click here to enter the Burke & Herbert "Bank On The Cycle" contest!