- Associated Press
Monday, October 19, 2020

The Nationals hired Jim Hickey on Monday as their pitching coach.

Hickey is entering his 38th season in pro baseball after spending the past two with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special assistant for player development. He has 15 years’ experience as a pitching coach in the majors.

Hickey succeeds Paul Menhart, who was not brought back after his contract expired.

Menhart, who had been with the organization in minor-league roles since 2006, had replaced former pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in May 2019. And while Menhart helped right an underperforming pitching staff en route to a World Series title that season, the Nationals’ staff left something to be desired during the 60-game, coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

Washington’s 5.09 ERA was fifth worst in the majors, as Stephen Strasburg lost most of the season to carpal tunnel surgery and the team’s once-vaunted starting rotation took a step back.

Patrick Corbin, a major free-agent acquisition ahead of the 2019 season, allowed a league-high 85 hits. Max Scherzer gave up 10 home runs in 67.1 innings — compared to 18 in 172.1 innings a season earlier. And Aníbal Sánchez and Austin Voth, who both made 11 starts, finished with ERAs above 6.00.

Hickey gives manager Dave Martinez, who inherited much of his staff when he took the Nationals job, a coach with whom he’s had a long relationship. Hickey coached alongside Martinez with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008-14. 

“He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to the job,” Martinez said. “He’s led a lot of really good pitching staffs over the years and has been a part of many successful clubs along the way. He’s helped countless pitchers improve, achieve their full potential and become All-Stars.”

Hickey was last a pitching coach in 2018 with the Chicago Cubs. Before his decade (2006-17) with the Rays, he spent three seasons with the Houston Astros.

Before that, Hickey spent seven years as a pitcher in the minors from 1983-89.

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