Most of the readers on here are familiar that I’m a huge fan of Brent Strom. Despite winning a coach of the year, and gaining some recognition as a pitching coach, I think he’s still vastly underrated and has revolutionized baseball far more than the average baseball fan knows.
Brent Strom says he will not return to the Astros as their pitching coach in 2022. pic.twitter.com/r4vaVOuyTT— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 3, 2021
(I think personally, I’m more upset by the loss of Strom than Correa)
In the off-season, Strom accepted a role with the Arizona Diamondbacks. While a pitching coach making a change is not usually a huge newsworthy event, I think this move in particular is of interest. Why? Well, the Diamondbacks have a downright terrible pitching staff. They’re not just bad, but easily one of the worst in the league.
Last year, here is where the Diamondbacks ranked:
Pitching WAR - 4.0 (worst in baseball)
ERA: 5.15 (tied for second worst)
FIP: 4.88 (tied for second worst)
xFIP: 4.85 (2nd worst in baseball)
K/9: 7.86 (3rd worst in baseball)
Unfortunately, last year does not seem like a bad luck driven fluke either. With Depth Chart projections rating them as the worst pitching team in baseball, totaling for 6.7 WAR for the entire team (Astros come in at 17.0 for comparison).
The vast majority of their WAR comes from Zac Gallen (2.1), Merrill Kelly (1.4), and Madison Bumgarner (1.0) - which are not particularly impressive totals especially given all 3 are estimated for 160+ IP, showing more of an accumulation of innings than dominant performances.
While Bumgarner was once one of the league’s elite pitchers, his performance since joining the Diamondbacks has been less than inspiring with an 8-14, 5.07 ERA, 5.20 FIP across his 188 IP.
Their bullpen does not inspire confidence either, with 37 year olds Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy leading the bullpen in projected WAR.
Strom’s transition may come as a surprise to some. Going from one of the most dominant teams in the league to a cellar dweller in the twilight years of your career is not a choice most willingly make. But it makes perfect sense, given Strom’s commentary that the system is already set in Houston. The Diamondbacks could end up being the ultimate feather in Strom’s cap, but honestly I believe the move is more about spreading the wealth of knowledge he’s gathered to as much of the league as he can.
Of course, MLB pitchers are not the only ones in the organization. Our sister site, AZSnakePit has 9 of their top 20 prospects listed as pitchers. I’m definitely not versed enough to speak intelligently on their prospects, but it does not look like they have any stand out ace caliber upside with Fangraphs ranking their highest pitcher as a 45+ potential.
If you’re not familiar with Fangraph’s Future Values, they have 45 and 50 rated pitchers as the following:
Fangraphs also has 9 pitchers listed within the top 20 (of their top 46), with the highest ranking pitcher Ryne Nelson (45+ FV) and Luis Frias (45 FV - maintained his rookie status, but reached the MLB for a cup of coffee last year) being the only ones that Fangraphs estimates to arrive in 2022.
I haven’t had a chance to dig deeper into the arsenal of the Diamondbacks pitching staff but it will be interesting to monitor the evolution of the staff.
I look forward to watching the impact that Strom has on the Diamondbacks’ staff, hoping to see some of Strom’s famous magic once again. It will be interesting with a different management and analytics team behind him if there will be a distinct change in the approach. One unfortunate element is that the abbreviated spring training will limit the amount of time Strom has to implement and train the pitchers before the season.
For any Diamondbacks fans who stumble across this article, you have no idea how incredibly lucky the team is to have brought an asset like Strom into the organization. If you’re interested in the methodologies, influences, or learning about Strom below are my best attempt at capture some of the complex topics and theories he has used to garner the “Strom Magic” we’ve all come to love:
Strom’s “Go-To” Industry Experts and their expertise
Where will the Diamondbacks pitching WAR stand at the end of the year?
This poll is closed
Less than 4
4 to 6
6 to 10