You might've missed it -- what, with someone else announcing a decision around the same time -- but on Monday afternoon the Reds fired pitching coach Mark Riggins, replacing him with bullpen coach Mack Jenkins.
Here's what Walt Jocketty said, via press release:
"Mark was a valuable member of this organization for several years. Before he accepted the job with our Major League team, he contributed to the development of many of our successful young pitchers in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, the pitching on our big league staff has not improved over the course of the season as we had hoped, and it is time for a new voice."
Riggins was in a bad situation. This was his first season on the big-league staff following four years as Cincinnati minor-league pitching coordinator, and he had little talent to work with as the Reds continue to rebuild their organization from the bottom up. Unsurprisingly, the results were horrid: the Reds entered the day with the second-worst rotation ERA in the majors, and by far the worst bullpen ERA -- to the extent that it was nearly a full run higher than the next worst.
You can pick any number of statistics to explain the Reds' state. For instance, they've used 27 pitchers this season, and just eight of them -- regardless of their innings pitched total -- have an ERA+ exceeding the league-average mark. To take it a step further, of those eight, three have fewer than five appearances apiece, and another two have strikeout-to-walk ratios worse than 1.50. Not satisfied? Here's another telling number: 14. That's the number of appearances from Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, and Raisel Iglesias, arguably the three-best pitchers on staff. And on and on and on ... the point is, Johnny Sain himself probably couldn't make this group of replacement-level types pitch much better than they have.
Unfortunately for Riggins, someone has to get fired in cases like this, and that someone is usually the pitching coach. Here's hoping he finds a new position in the coming days where failure isn't ensured.
And as for Jenkins? Good luck. You've just inherited one of the toughest, most depressing jobs in the sport.