Diamondbacks part ways with pitching coach Mike Butcher
The Arizona Diamondbacks have “parted ways” with pitching coach Mike Butcher, the team announced on Monday.
“I just think philosophically, there were some differences that were happening,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “And I wanted to explore some different angles, and I wanted to see what we could get into to make us a little bit better.”
The move comes a day after the end of the 2019 regular season, in which the D-backs went 85-77. Arizona’s pitching staff finished with the 12th-best ERA in baseball (4.25), the 12th-best bullpen ERA in baseball (4.26) and the 13th-best starters ERA in baseball (4.23).
The 2019 season was Butcher’s fourth as the D-backs’ pitching coach, replacing Mike Harkey. In Butcher’s first year on the job, 2016, the D-backs had a 5.09 ERA as a team. It went down to 3.66 in 2017 when the D-backs made the postseason, but worsened to 3.72 in 2018 and worse still to 4.25 in 2019.
Furthermore, several pitchers saw regression during Butcher’s tenure, especially in 2019. Yoshihisa Hirano’s ERA went from 2.44 in 2018 to 4.75 in 2019. Andrew Chafin’s ERA increased year-over-year by more than half a run. Robbie Ray posted his worst ERA in three seasons.
Of course, there were some success stories mixed in there, too, and assigning blame is difficult from the outside looking in. Archie Bradley struggled for the first part of the year before turning things around and becoming the closer down the stretch. But it appears the D-backs decided it was time to go in a different direction.
“I’m really, really curious about how we can take the next steps,” Lovullo said. “And I think maybe a new voice will allow us to get there.”
The Diamondbacks announced that the other prominent members of the coaching staff, including Lovullo, bench coach Jerry Narron, hitting coaches Darnell Coles and Eric Hinske, first and third base coaches Dave McKay and Tony Perezchica and several others would return in 2020.
Narron, however, will remain on the major league staff but not as the bench coach. That role will be taken over by Luis Urueta, who was a major league coach this season.