I love it when some of our writers send out links to amazing articles from around the web. It makes writing for this site all the more pleasurable. These guys (and girl) act like my own personal google reader with commentary. And that's the point of this series, to share these articles (along with boring you with our own thoughts on the subject) with you.
Last night, clack sent this one out to us about Dave Duncan and how he helped develop "The Cardinal Way" and how his expertise continues to live on with the Cardinals pitching staff and development. He is easily one of the best pitching coaches to ever walk the fields of Major League Baseball and doesn't surprise me one bit that his philosophy and approach continues to influence such a great organization, that is the St. Louis Cardinals.
Note: it pains me say that last line since I hate playing them, but I respect what they do so much. Just don't tell my brother-in-law who is a die-hard Cardinal fan.
The article discusses how he used advanced analytics to create game plans for their pitchers every day. He expected his pitchers to study every day and to know what each hitter's tendencies were in how would be best to approach them. The article discussed how Kyle Lohse came over and dramatically increased his sinker usage down and away to help improve his efficacy under the tutelage of Duncan.
Also, with the use of graphs from pitch f/x website BrooksBaseball.net creator Dan Brooks, illustrated the different usage of first pitch selection with runners in scoring position. Duncan encouraged the use of softer fastballs and off-speed pitches as opposed to gearing up and sailing in your hardest fastball.
But, the real purpose the article was to show that Duncan's tactics and philosophy continue to be evident in the Cardinals performance despite Duncan now being an advisor with the Diamondbacks. It's because the pitching coach who took over for him following the 2011 season, Derek Lindquist was the bullpen coach for Duncan and learned his philosophy. Some of the reason for so much success is still due to Duncan.
Now, think about who runs the pitching in the Astros organization. At the major league level, it's Brent Strom. Strom was a roving pitching instructor for the Cardinals beginning in 2007 and worked up to pitching coordinator in 2012. Despite Strom and Duncan clashing on mechanics and philosophy at times, they wrote a manual on "The Cardinal Way" that is given to all Cardinal minor league pitchers. So, they at least did find some common ground in philosophy in some areas.
The Astros minor league pitching coordinator is Dyar Miller. Dyar Miller was the Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator in 2008-2011. Strom would replace him in 2012 due to Miller being promoted to bullpen coach to replace promoted bullpen coach Lindquist as he stepped in to fill Duncan's shoes. Miller would come over to the Astros organization in 2013 as the minor league pitching coordinator.
Both men have dramatic influences on the Astros pitching development and approach. Both men worked with Duncan on several occasions and undoubtedly have some influences from him.
The difference though is that Duncan was a proponent of heavy sinker usage and liked the sinker down and away. Both Strom and Miller utilize Perry Husbands "Effective Velocity" in their teaching to some extent. Effective Velocity, to put it simply, is the effect of location on the perceived velocity of a pitch. Down and away can is slower than up and in. That's where the use of a 4-seam can be very beneficial as an up-and-in pitch. Strom is also a proponent of pitch tunneling which is using pitches that start in the same tunnel before their break in movement to hide their pitch type. A high 4-seam FB can help protect a curve due to that tunnel. So, while Strom has likely influences from Duncan, he also seems to have built on those philosophies some.
I don't know about you, but the days of missing Brad Arnsberg are long gone.