Slumping Padres fire pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Sports

FILE – In this June 17, 2021, file photo, San Diego Padres pitching coach Larry Rothschild walks back to the dugout after a mound visit in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in San Diego. The slumping Padres fired Rothschild on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan, File)

The slumping San Diego Padres fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild on Monday as the franchise tries to stop its freefall in the National League playoff race.

The 67-year-old Rothschild has been with the Padres for the past two seasons. San Diego has lost nine of its past 11 games and has fallen to third place in the NL West, 13 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

The Padres fell one game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second and final NL Wild Card after losing on Sunday.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler said he’s discussed the struggles of the pitching staff — particularly the starting rotation — for a few weeks with general manager A.J. Preller and other front office staff.

But Tingler was adamant that the move to fire Rothschild was “100%” his decision.

“Instead of waiting and seeing what’s going to happen and staying stagnant, I thought the best thing to do for this team moving forward is to bring in a different voice, different message, different perspective right now,” Tingler said.

Ben Fritz — the team’s bullpen coach — will be the interim pitching coach for the rest of the season.

“He’s done a great job with our bullpen,” Tingler said. “He’s one of the reasons our bullpen has performed very well this year. With his experience, knowing the system, knowing the guys, being able to provide his perspective, ultimately I think is going to give us our best chance to pitch to our capabilities down the stretch.”

After a good start to the season, San Diego’s pitching staff has regressed, especially in recent weeks. The group has a 4.82 ERA in August.

Three of the Padres’ main starting pitchers — Yu Darvish, Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet — are currently on the injured list. So is Drew Pomeranz, one of the team’s top relievers.

Tingler praised Rothschild, saying he was the right hire for a young pitching staff in 2020. Rothschild has had a long career as a pitching coach with teams like the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. He was also the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays from 1998 to 2001.

“We’ve certainly had some injuries, there’s no doubt about that,” Tingler said. “But we’ve had some inconsistency on the mound. I just think at the end of the day, we haven’t reached our level of production consistently on the mound. With 36 games to go, we’re trying to give a different message.”

San Diego hopes improved pitching can complement one of the most powerful lineups in the big leagues, featuring Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth.

The Padres start a three-game home series against the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

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