Nationals manager Matt Williams on the hot seat

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Updated: September 16, 2015
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Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams may be on the hot seat as the season draws to a close. The rumors have actually been circulating for some time now, as once again the Nationals have managed to underachieve and will likely miss the postseason for the third time in the past five years. They are currently sitting second in the NL East at 74-70, and nine games back from the division leading New York Mets.

The problem some baseball franchises make is jumping the gun and firing a manager after a disappointing season, because that’s what the media behests. But, in this case with Washington, that may end up being a huge mistake.

Realistically speaking, it isn’t entirely Williams’ fault the Nationals haven’t performed up to par with the league’s expectations. Keep in mind, just in the last two seasons, the Nationals have been forced to play without Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. All are everyday players in Washington. These players combined, have missed over 500 games in the past two seasons. That’s ridiculous, how exactly does the manager receive all the blame in this scenario?

Only one player on the entire roster has been somewhat healthy over the last few seasons, and that’s shortstop Ian Desmond. Even with all of the games being missed to key contributors for the team, Washington still produces one of the best offenses in all of baseball. In the past couple years, they have finished within’ the top three in the National League in runs scored.

This season, and probably the past few seasons, the biggest disappointments have been associated with the pitching staff. On paper, the Nationals have arguably one of the best overall starting rotations in all of baseball. With guys like Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez, there’s no way they should barely be a .500 team. This same rotation led the major league in team ERA (3.03) last season.

So with the same pitching staff and same coaching staff, how is it all Williams’ fault for the Nationals’ disappointing season? He does struggle with his bullpen management — as he tends to leave relievers in longer than he should — but that’s a fixable problem.

There’s no question that some type of change needed, but firing Williams may not be the best idea. Especially without a better free-agent manager on the market. One thing that Williams has working in his favor is the support from Harper. According to MASNSports.com, Harper released the following statement regarding playing for Williams in Washington:

“He wants us to be perfect, and I love that [in] a manager. I played for a guy like that in high school, and my dad’s exactly like that also. So being able to come in every single day and have that approach to win ball games and playing for a guy like that is fun.”

Obviously, having arguably one of the best players in all of baseball on your side will help your case. But, it is a business and sometimes business decisions have to be made. If he is indeed canned as the manager of the Nationals, Williams will receive a lot of interest from other ball clubs this offseason.

DC Hendrix

DC Hendrix

Report for Sideline Sports Report. Producer/Host for ESPN 1380 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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