- The Washington Times
Friday, May 24, 2019

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday it is too early in the season to “pull the plug” on manager Dave Martinez and make drastic changes to the roster.

Rizzo addressed reporters before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins. The Nationals (19-31) have the fourth-worst record in baseball and have lost five straight.

“We’re certainly not going to pull the plug before we’re a third of the way through the season,” Rizzo said. “We’re a big-league club, we’ve got a talented big-league roster and we got to play better baseball. That’s it.

“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.”

Rizzo said the Nationals can be “hard to watch,” but defended Martinez amid growing cries from its fanbase for the franchise to make a change. He added everyone has a piece of the blame, not just the manager.

Entering Friday, the Nationals have the worst bullpen in MLB with a 7.02 ERA. Against New York, the group was particularly brutal — failing to record outs while giving up leads in the process.

Rizzo called the recent losses “gut-wrenching” and demoralizing.

Asked if the Nationals had the right relievers on the roster, Rizzo said they have players who are capable of performing and just have to play to their capabilities. But in response to a separate question about the bullpen, Rizzo said the Nationals are looking for ways to fix it through trades and the waiver wire. Washington recently DFA’d Dan Jennings and claimed reliever Javy Guerra off waivers.

As for when Washington could start to consider to “pull to the plug,” Rizzo said the Nationals are aware of the calendar and have a plan in place for all contingencies.

Last year, the Nationals traded a number of players — Daniel Murphy and Brandon Kintzler among them — in lead up to the league’s trade deadline once the playoffs started to look out of reach. 

But the Nationals aren’t ready to make similar moves just yet. 

“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,” Rizzo said. “There’s a lot of people in this group right here that predicted to win 90, 92 games, and win the division and World Series.

“That was our expectation coming into this, and a third into the season, I’m certainly not going to pull the pin on that and blow it up.”

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