The Cubs are hiring Darren Holmes as bullpen coach and Mark Strittmatter to serve as catching coach, reports Sahadev Sharma of the Athletic. Those are expected to be the final two hires for Craig Counsell’s first staff in the Windy City.
Holmes joins the organization after four years in Baltimore. The Orioles initially hired him to work as bullpen coach going into the 2020 season. A winter later, he was promoted to assistant pitching coach. Holmes held that role under Chris Holt for three seasons before Baltimore changed its pitching voices this past October. Holt was moved back into an overhead role with the organization, while Holmes departed entirely.
The 57-year-old Holmes pitched parts of 13 seasons as a big league reliever. Before his time in Baltimore, he had spent five seasons as the bullpen coach in Colorado. He’ll bring plenty of experience to a relief corps led by Adbert Alzolay, Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. Chicago relievers finished 13th in ERA (3.85) last season. They were fourth in strikeout rate (26%) but issued walks at an 11% clip that was lower only than the 12% mark posted by a rebuilding A’s club.
Strittmatter, 54, has worked with catchers in the Rockies organization for the better part of two decades. He had some experience on a big league staff before serving as minor league catching coordinator since 2013. Strittmatter briefly reached the majors as a player in 1998.
Sharma notes that the Cubs are expected to soon announce the entirety of the coaching staff. Holmes and Strittmatter will round out a group of previously-reported hirings including Ryan Flaherty as bench coach, returnee Dustin Kelly (hitting coach) and new addition John Mallee (assistant hitting coach) on the offensive side. Tommy Hottovy and Daniel Moskos are back as the lead and assistant pitching coaches, respectively. Mike Napoli and Willie Harris will return as the base coaches.