San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler insisted Monday that newly-fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild was not a “scapegoat” or a sacrificial lamb amid the team’s efforts to halt a downward spiral in the National League West standings.
But after the Padres’ 7-4 loss to the Phillies Sunday, the team’s ninth defeat in its last 11 games, it was the veteran Rothschild who received his pink slip with a little over a month left in the regular season. The Padres, at 68-58, are third in their division and had fallen a game behind the Cincinnati Reds in the wild card race when the announcement on Rothschild was made.
The Padres made a flurry of trades over the winter that netted the club three new arms — veteran and five-time All-Star Yu Darvish, former Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove — to join San Diego’s stable of stars, including Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
After Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history April 9, and the club strung together a nine-game win streak in May and an eight-game clip in June, it looked as if the team would keep pace with its two division rivals, the Giants and defending World Series champion Dodgers.
Following the All-Star break, it’s been a different story, although as Tingler mentioned Monday, injuries have been a factor. Darvish and fellow starting pitcher Chris Paddack are currently on the 10-day injured list (IL). Snell, 28, who won the American League Cy Young in 2018, is a disappointing 6-5 this season with a 4.82 ERA.
“There’s been a number of reasons, but the lack of, just, consistency, the lack of production, the belief we have ability-wise, certainly on the mound,” said Tingler, in reference to the decision behind the 67-year-old Rothschild getting the boot. “We want to change the voice these last 36 games. Larry’s brought a lot to us, a lot of experience, a ton of knowledge. I believe he was the right guy at the right time.”
Tingler added that “this was 100% my decision.” Ben Fritz will take over as the Padres’ interim pitching coach, the manager said. The Padres are 13 games behind the Giants in their division, and Tingler used the word “consistency” numerous times Monday when he spoke to reporters, referring to the pitching numbers and results.
The Mets made a similar decision earlier this season, firing hitting coach Chili Davis in May. And while the Mets stormed to the top of the NL East standings, and held that position into August, their offense has sputtered mightily, prompting team owner Steve Cohen to tweet his disapproval August 18, calling his hitters “unproductive.”
“The best teams have a more disciplined approach. The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie,” Cohen tweeted. The Mets are currently two games under .500.
Rothschild was previously the Yankees’ pitching coach from 2011-2019, and had coaching stops with the Cubs, Reds and Marlins. He was the first manager for the then expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays when that franchise joined the league in 1998.
“Larry is definitely not a scapegoat in this,” said Tingler. “Me, as the manager ultimately, I’m responsible for the staff. I’m responsible for our performance and getting our players to play to their abilities.”