Coming in to 2015, the Washington Nationals were the consensus best team in baseball and the favorites to win the World Series. They won the National League East by 17 games in 2014, then signed superstar pitcher Max Scherzer as a free agent in the offseason. With returning stars Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Drew Storen, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez, expectations were sky high for the Nats.
Well, here we sit on September 23 and the Nationals are 6.5 games out of the NL East and 10.5 games out of a wild card spot. A lot of heat has been placed on manager Matt Williams, and it is unclear whether he will be back in 2016.
During a local interview Wednesday with 106.7 The Fan in DC, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asked whether his manager would have a job as the Nationals manager come 2016. His response was noncommittal at best:
“We’ll let the chips fall where they may,” said Rizzo.
In Spring Training, the Nationals exercised their team option on Williams for the 2016 season, and they hold another team option for 2017. It makes it fairly interesting that Rizzo didn’t give a clear “yes,” from which you could infer that a change is coming in the nation’s capital.
Williams has come under a lot of fire for his in-game strategy and bullpen usage this year as the Nats have fallen out of playoff contention after leading the NL East for 48 days earlier in the season. Their record currently sits at 78-72.
Williams was the NL Manager of the Year just a season ago, which makes you wonder what happened with a roster that was supposed to have much success. They did battle some injuries this season, but I’m not sure that will be enough to save Williams’ job.
Only time will tell, but as the days go by, it seems less and less likely that Matt Williams will be on the Washington bench in 2016.