Under St. Claire, the Nationals' pitching staff ranked 30th, with a 5.69 ERA. Most of the problems came from the bullpen, which has blown 13 games.
"Everybody is accountable for their part of the team. We thought that a change was imminent and it needed to be done at this time," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "The numbers speak for themselves. We are last in the Major Leagues in nine major pitching categories. I thought we needed a new voice for the young ears of the starting rotation and to get a stabilizing personality like Steve."
St. Claire was given the news by Rizzo on Monday night, a few hours after working with right-hander Craig Stammen at Nationals Park. According to St. Claire, Rizzo told him he was let go because the pitching staff didn't perform.
"I was getting ready to look at video [of the pitchers] when I got the call," St. Claire said. "The pitchers didn't perform. I've packed up, and I'm going to take a few days off and think about my future. I have been fired before."
St. Claire was with the Nationals/Expos for six-plus seasons, and he was often credited for resurrecting the careers of Hector Carrasco and Livan Hernandez. St. Claire also had a reputation of working well with young pitching prospects. In fact, Ross Detwiler, Stammen and Jordan Zimmermann have not performed poorly in the big leagues this year.
"I loved working with the young guys. They are always looking for information when it comes to pitching," St. Claire said.
Left-hander John Lannan was eating dinner with closer Joel Hanrahan when St. Claire called Lannan to tell him he was dismissed.
"I was shocked. It's always bad when a coach gets fired," Lannan said. "Our staff isn't producing the way it should be. So you can put some blame on yourself. I'm still in shock. He taught me a lot about his methods and his ways. I made strides from 2007."
Asked why the bullpen had problems for most of the season, Hanrahan found it difficult to answer the question.
"I don't really know if there is a real good answer for that. There is really no explanation on what happened. We weren't very good," he said.
McCatty has been the team's Triple-A pitching coach since 2005. He also played in the Major Leagues for nine seasons, all with the Athletics. His best season was in 1981, when he went 14-7 with a 2.33 ERA.
McCatty joins the Nationals with existing working relationships with 10 pitchers on the 25-man roster, including Jason Bergmann, Hanrahan and Lannan.
McCatty received the news about his promotion in the first inning, when Syracuse played Gwinnett.
"I was a little numb at the time. I was trying to watch [Collin] Balester pitch. I was surprised," McCatty said. "You are happy to get a chance, but Randy is a good friend. I feel bad about that, but that's the nature of our game."
McCatty is considered an old-school type of pitching coach. While he is into looking at video and fixing mechanics, McCatty looks more at the mental side of the game.
"You have to throw strikes. There is nothing you can do in this game if you don't throw strikes," McCatty said. "I had a lot of these guys in the past. I'm going to get them to go out and trust themselves to put the ball in play and not be their own worst enemy.
"If your mental approach will allow you to compete, go out and be aggressive, attack the zone and take what happens, I think you are going to find out you are going to have a lot more innings pitched and you are going to have a lot more success."
With McCatty in the big leagues, Spin Williams, the team's Minor League pitching coordinator, will be the interim pitching coach with Syracuse.
"[Williams] will be in Syracuse tonight until our dominoes fall in the Minor League system. We are going to announce them in another day or so," Rizzo said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.