The San Diego Padres, stumbling in their quest to reach the playoffs this season, fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild on Monday.
Ben Fritz, nearly 20 years removed from being among the headliners in the Oakland Athletics' famed "Moneyball" draft of 2002, will replace him as interim pitching coach.
Rothschild, 67, was in his second year with the Padres and spent the previous 18 years as a pitching coach for the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. Padres manager Jayce Tingler said firing Rothschild was "100 percent" his decision, citing a desire to "change the voice" down the stretch.
"Larry's brought a lot to us -- a lot of experience, a ton of knowledge," Tingler said. "I believe he was the right guy at the right time; we've won a lot of games with Larry as the pitching coach. But moving forward -- we've been in a situation where we've certainly had some injuries, there's no doubt about that, but we've had just some inconsistency on the mound, and I just think at the end of the day we haven't reached our level of consistency on the mound. With 36 games to go, we wanted to try to give a different message, a different voice."
The Padres (68-58), who traded for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove in the offseason, have lost nine of their past 11 games and sit a game behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
The Padres' rotation, which recently lost Darvish and Paddack to the injured list, has combined for a 5.63 ERA this month, fourth-highest in the NL. The Padres' starters rank 10th in the NL in ERA and 15th in innings per start.
"We've shown flashes throughout the year, but I think at the end of the day it's just been too inconsistent," Tingler said. "We've only had some flashes of guys pitching to what I believe is their capability."
Fritz, 40, is in his seventh year with the Padres' organization and was in his second as the major league bullpen coach, after jobs as a rehab coordinator and minor league manager. Tingler brought up Fritz's versatility -- specifically his knowledge of pitching mechanics and analytical data, as well as the medical realm -- as a principal reason for his promotion, as well as his familiarity with the Padres' pitchers.
A little less than two weeks ago, Tingler said, he and Padres general manager A.J. Preller went "back and forth" on the idea of making a change at pitching coach, ultimately deciding to let more time play out. On Sunday, after a 7-4 defeat to the Philadelphia Phillies capped a third consecutive series loss, Preller and Tingler decided to fire Rothschild.
"Larry is definitely not a scapegoat in this," Tingler said. "Larry has done so much for this organization, he's done so much in his career, just in his experience in the game. As the manager, ultimately, I'm responsible for the staff, I'm responsible for our performance and getting our players to play to their abilities, and ultimately I made the decision with the idea, and the thinking, that this is going to be best for us moving forward."