The Cincinnati Reds kicked off the 4th of July festivities with some fireworks from their coaching staff, strapping pitching coach Mark Riggins to a bottle rocket and sending him on his way.
Reds replace pitching coach Mark Riggins with assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach Mack Jenkins.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 4, 2016
Riggins was only in his first season as the Reds' big league pitching coach, but as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon noted last November, Riggins had been the team's minor league pitching coordinator for the four seasons prior. So while the likes of John Lamb, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, Alfredo Simon, and Anthony DeSclafani hadn't really ever spent much direct time under his tutelage prior to the 2016 season, the bulk of the rest of the rotation and bullpen certainly had.
The results so far this season, as I'm sure you've noticed, have been a cataclysmic failure.
Cincinnati's entire pitching staff has been "worth" -3.9 fWAR in 2016, not only the lone team sporting a negative mark, but a full 6 fWAR worse than the next closest group, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The staff's 4.39 BB/9 ranks as nearly a half-walk worse than any other staff, they rank almost dead last in strand rate, strikeouts per 9 innings, and ground ball generation, and their team ERA of 5.53 sits a full half-run worse than even the Colorado Rockies (and is also dead last in the game). There's also the minor issue of having allowed dingers at a pace that currently projects to thrash the MLB single season record.
To say that's all the fault of Mark Riggins would be asinine, since it's certainly not all on his shoulders. Injuries to Homer Bailey, DeSclafani, Lamb, Raisel Iglesias, Jon Moscot, and others have torpedoed the projected rotation he expected, and a patchwork bullpen that featured the cheapest outlay of salary in the game certainly didn't provide him with anyone he could lean on, either. Still, the buck has to stop somewhere, and people *aren't going to stop yelling about failure in comment sections unless heads begin to roll.
Getting the shot to show his mettle is Mack Jenkins, the assistant pitching coach and bullpen instructor who has been a part of the Cincinnati organization in some fashion for most of his adult life. He also conveniently has a staff ERA that starts a 0.00 under his tenure, with Disco already back, Iglesias healthy and performing, and both Homer Bailey and Robert Stephenson due back soon. As The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan noted earlier, former AAA Louisville manager (and current pitching coach) Ted Power will get promoted to Jenkins' previous role.
Shuffling the deck chairs? Maybe. The solution to the historically bad problems? Probably not. Still, it's clear that whatever was happening under Riggins wasn't working, and at this point trying anything is probably worth a shot.
*Be real...they're never going to stop yelling regardless.