Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage–perhaps one of the most lauded professionals of his vocation in recent memory–informed Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is expecting to be fired by his organization in short order (link).
After manager Clint Hurdle received a Pittsburgh pink slip this afternoon, Searage’s removal from his pitching coach role would represent a substantial dugout makeover. The Pirates have given no official indication of their coaching plans, but they have informed Searage that a decision on his future is impending. “They told us they would let us know in the next couple of days,” Searage told Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (link). “Now, bringing in a new manager could mean bringing in different personnel, anyway. I’m preparing myself not to be a Pittsburgh Pirate next year.”
If the Pirates do indeed remove Searage from his post, it would mark the end of an inarguably successful chapter in his career. After a playing career in which he logged seven MLB seasons as a hurler, Searage was named Pittsburgh’s pitching coach in August of 2010–meaning that his tenure has basically lock stepped with Hurdle’s nine-year run with the org.
During his time in black and yellow, Searage earned himself a near-mythological reputation as a pitching whisperer. J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett are just a few examples of veterans who revived their careers under Searage’s tutelage in the Steel City, and Gerrit Cole, perhaps the sport’s best pitcher circa 2019, began his career as a Searage understudy. Industry-wide respect for Searage was so pronounced following the Pirates 2013-2015 run of success that, in 2016, Sports Illustrated once went so far as to call him “the secret to the Pirates’ success”.
Of course, Searage’s time in Pittsburgh hardly culminated in a storybook ending. Although Pirates pitchers spent the least time on the injured list among all National League teams from 2014-2015, Searage probably made much more frequent trips to the training room in recent years. Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, Chris Archer, and Jordan Lyles all spent time on the injured list this year–and that’s not the only list that was pertinent to Pirates pitchers in 2019.
Under Searage’s instruction, Pirates pitchers often worked up-and-in in 2019–a strategy that helped fuel a few on-field brawls, the most notable of which was a Pittsburgh-Cincinnatti duel that resulted in pitchers Kyle Crick and Keone Kela being placed on the suspended list. Crick was later engaged in a clubhouse scuffle with Felipe Vazquez that resulted in Crick needing surgery and both players being levied with fines. This month, Vazquez was shockingly arrested on charges of, among other things, statutory sexual assault of a minor. That Searage would conclude his time in Pittsburgh with such a top-to-bottom disaster of a season would be, in a word, lamentable.