Nats GM: Martinez safe with ‘a lot of season left’

MLB

WASHINGTON — Davey Martinez’s job is safe for now.

“We’re not making any decisions with a third of the season gone,” said Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo on Friday afternoon, when asked about his confidence level in the Nats manager. “We’ve got a lot of season left. Davey’s not happy with what’s going on; nobody’s happy with what’s going on — the fan base, ownership, and myself. Things gotta get better. We’ve got to play better baseball.”

Two months into the season, the Nationals have been the most disappointing team in baseball. Expected to contend for the National League East title, they were 10 games out of first place entering their weekend series against the Miami Marlins. Their .380 winning percentage was the fourth worst in the majors, ahead of only the Royals, Marlins and Orioles.

Although Washington has consistently underperformed this season, the past week has been especially troublesome. After winning back-to-back games for the first time in a month, the Nats proceeded to lose six of their next seven. That skid included a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets, who had just been swept by last-place Miami.

“They’re gut-wrenching losses, and they’re demoralizing, and they’re upsetting,” said Rizzo, whose club lost eighth-inning leads in each of the past three games of the Mets series. “We’ve got to put ourselves in position to win baseball games, we have to play cleaner games, we have to perform better, and we have to play up to the capability of this roster.”

Washington’s bullpen, which ranks last in MLB with a 7.02 ERA, has been under siege for most of the season, but Rizzo was quick to point out that his relievers aren’t solely responsible for the team’s struggles.

“Everyone’s got their part in it,” said the GM. “Management, general manager, everyone’s got their part in how we’re playing, just as we have for the past eight years of how well we’ve played. This is a team process. There’s a lot of things that have to go right to win, and we certainly have to turn around and play better baseball.

“We’re fairly spoiled in that clubhouse. We’ve won a lot of games for a lot of years and we’re used to winning. It’s not happening right now, but we’re not going to pull the plug on the season less than a third into it.”

Martinez spent 10 years serving as Joe Maddon’s bench coach before earning his first managerial gig following the 2017 season. He replaced Dusty Baker, who went 192-132 and won two pennants during his two years in Washington but failed to win a playoff series. In the second year of a three-year deal, Martinez is 101-111 since taking over.

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