Nov. 18: The Diamondbacks have officially announced they’ve hired Strom as their pitching coach.
11:52am: Strom confirms to Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston that he has accepted an offer to be the next pitching coach of the Diamondbacks. “It’s an exciting time for me,” says Strom. “It’s a challenging job obviously. They’re much better than what their record showed.”
Strom also confirms the change of scenery to Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Me leaving the Astros had nothing to do with any disagreements or anything like that. Just a gut feeling on my part that eight years was long enough. It’s really in good shape with the people they have now.” He also heaps praise on Astros skipper Dusty Baker, calling him “as good a human being as I’ve ever been around in my life.”
11:43am: The Diamondbacks are set to hire Brent Strom as their new pitching coach, per Ken Rosenthal and Andy McCullough of The Athletic (Twitter link). The hire comes just nine days after Strom announced that he would not return as the Astros’ pitching coach.
Strom didn’t commit to retirement at the time of his departure from the Houston organization, suggesting such a route could be on the table but also squarely leaving the door open for further coaching opportunities in the Majors. As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale points out, Strom resides in Tucson, Ariz., so the move to the D-backs brings him much closer to home.
It’s a notable get for the D-backs, who had one of the worst pitching staffs in Major League Baseball this past season and will soon welcome a bevy of interesting young arms to the big league ranks. Strom spent eight seasons as the pitching coach for the Astros, helping to develop a number of quality young arms and also turn around the careers of some previously unheralded journeymen. While a pitching coach alone isn’t solely responsible for the successes of a staff — certainly not in the era of advance scouting and mounting data provided from analytics staffs — it’d be foolish not to credit Strom as a significant factor in the success of the Astros’ pitching staff over the years.
Young arms like Corbin Martin, Ryne Nelson, and Bryce Jarvis are all expected to begin next year in Double-A or higher, making them relatively near-term options for the big league club in Arizona. Strom ought to have the opportunity to work with them and with several of the D-backs younger arms in camp this spring, too — a group that includes names like Slade Cecconi and Blake Walston.
Of course, beyond the up-and-coming prospects, the D-backs will look to Strom to help right the ship for a club that posted the second-worst team ERA (5.15) and FIP (4.88) in all of Major League Baseball. Still-developing arms like Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver, Tyler Gilbert and J.B. Bukauskas will hope for better results and/or better health, and even an elder statesman such as Madison Bumgarner will surely welcome new ideas under Strom.
More than ever, it takes a village to field a competitive pitching staff (or, more broadly, a competitive roster), but there are few hires the D-backs could have made who would’ve commanded as much respect from the pitchers he’ll now oversee and from his peers on manager Torey Lovullo’s staff.