The Tigers announced after today’s game that pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones have been let go.
The Tigers pitching was dreadful this year and someone was going to take the hit. I don’t know that firing Hernandez is going to instantly make the staff better, but keeping him around this season certainly didn’t seem to help.
The coach relationship is always kind of a fuzzy thing to evaluate because as fans we really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. So the best we can do is judge based on the results on the field, and outside of Armando Galarraga and to a lesser extent Bobby Seay, there wasn’t a lot of stuff to put in the positive column this year.
To be fair, Hernandez was the pitching coach over that wonderful 2006 staff that saw career years for Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson and a dominant bullpen. But things have gone down hill, and rapidly so, ever since.
In addition to a 3rd worst league ERA, there were some other things that at the very least go into the questionable column. Chief among them was Justin Verlander dismal year. There was much tweaking of mechanics but it never led to results. Also, there was the matter of Jeremy Bonderman’s elbow last year. An injury he pitched poorly with, and yet managed to hide from the coaching and medical staffs.
To Hernandez’s credit, he didn’t seem to be a believer in abusing the young arms that he had and there wasn’t a clear case of injury due to abuse.
One thing I won’t miss however is when pitchers hold a runner on with that whole, snap the ball out of the glove and hold it over your head thing.
Jeff Jones presided over a bullpen that continually struggled. Jones was the pitching coach at Toledo before getting the promotion when Don Slaught left the staff after the 2006 season. He’s been up and down within the organization in the past, and I could see him continuing to be in the employ of the Tigers.
I’m sure we’ll hear quotes from the pitchers about how Hernandez was great, and how it wasn’t his fault. That’s all well and good, but it became clear that changes need to be made in the pitching staff, and with 5 starters with favorable club control contract status or under long term contracts, it is obvious that the change is going to come at the top.