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Nats fire pitching coach with Strasburg on horizon

Washington has an MLB-worst 5.69 ERA, including a historically awful performance from the bullpen, so it comes as no shock that the Nationals fired pitching coach Randy St. Claire this afternoon.

St. Claire has been with the team for so long that he was hired as pitching coach when they were still the Expos, way back in December of 2002. In seven seasons at the helm his pitching staffs have been above average at preventing runs just once, when the Nationals ranked fourth in the league during their first season in Washington.

Over the past four years the Nationals have ranked 16th, 10th, 15th, and 16th among NL teams in runs allowed, so despite not having a whole lot of good arms to work with during that time St. Claire was certainly shown plenty of patience. Here's what he said on his way out the door:

That's life. I've been in this game for 31 years. I've been fired before. But it's a tough one. I would have liked to be around when the organization takes off. The pitching isn't performing up to where it needs to be to win, and I think a lot of factors go into it, but I guess I'm easier to replace than 12 guys. Easier to replace and cheaper to replace. But that's the game. When the team doesn't perform, they're bound to make changes.

St. Claire's point about not being "around when the organization takes off" is a good one. Steve McCatty has been promoted from Triple-A to replace him, which is pretty nifty timing with the Nationals one week from drafting Stephen Strasburg. Toss in Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, and Shairon Martis and McCatty is in the right place at the right time with a potentially very promising rotation filled with 24-and-under starters.

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