ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

With pitching so important to a team’s success, you have to believe that your pitching coach will play a huge role in getting them ready for the season and assisting them in realizing their full potential.

So today, our writers take a crack at Rich Dubee’s performance since he has been in Detroit.  Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers to today’s question. It’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.


Rich Dubee is entering his second year as pitching coach. How would you grade him so far?


KURT

Hiring a new pitching coach isn’t exactly a sexy event or something met with a lot of excitement. But if there is one thing a pure fan of the game enjoys, it is when a pitcher dominates, when they own the plate, when they pitch inside without fear; an approach that makes hitters just a little less comfortable at the plate than they would like.

If you recall, Dubee’s biggest claim to fame when he arrived on the Tigers’ doorstep was his reputation of instructing his staff to pitch more aggressively, to pitch inside, to knock hitters off the plate.

Have you noticed a difference? Have you noticed a new approach? Oh, heck no! So that alone bothers me about the man.

Now specifically, I can’t give him credit for what JV has done. Taking credit for the resurgence of a Cy Young winner would be well, gutsy. But I may give him credit for the improvement that Bruce Rondon made last season. Bruce may have been his biggest project. However, again, no mention of anything Dubee may have been trying with Rondon to get his confidence back, change his approach, realize his potential as a dominant reliever.

And you have to wonder about how impactful he really is with his staff when it was James McCann who suggested a change in Mark Lowe’s delivery that could get him more velocity. It was Brad Ausmus who caught a bullpen session with Anibal Sanchez, experimenting with an arm angle further away from his head, which may have had something to do with Sanchez’s 4 scoreless innings and 5 strikeouts on Wednesday. But again, no mention of the pitching coach.

Wouldn’t you rather hear that Dubee himself discovered these things and personally made these recommendations? I sure would. Until then, I will question the job he is doing and the difference he is making.

I am still waiting on this aggressive approach to pitching; and I am still waiting to see him put his stamp on this staff, at a time when we need him the most; so I can’t grade someone who appears to have unfinished business. It’s a pivotal year for the Tigers, so we need all arms on deck.


HOLLY

Dubee has been an enigma as we haven’t read any quotes from Tigers about how he’s helped them in contrast to those we read about Jeff Jones.

But Jeff took the bullet for some very bad overall stats back in 2015 which resulted in the hiring of Dubee, part of that Marlins-to-Detroit mafia and came with recommendations from Al Avila and Jim Leyland for the job.

Despite that solid little clique, Dubee was given credit for working successfully with Halladay, (Cliff) Lee and Hamels before leaving the Phillies in ’13 and going to work for the Braves minor league system for 2 years until the Tigers hired him.

The most important question to ask is whether a pitching coach can really take credit for assisting pitchers with great talent who aren’t struggling. Since we don’t know how he’s worked with JV and Fulmer, we can’t make a true assessment. Did he help both get to the next level?

Where it is easy to give the coach credit is when he is able to maximize performance from everyone, not just the stars. It’s not fair to judge Norris in 2016 due to injury, but one has to wonder why it took the Tigers so very long to figure out what was going on with Zimmermann.

He shouldn’t be blamed for Pelfrey but Sanchez took a sustained dive last year. Shouldn’t Dubee have coordinated with Brad on in-game strategy that avoided leaving them in until they were bombed and the game was lost?

This year, there are big question marks about Zimmermann, Pelfrey, Sanchez and of course, the BP, once again. Dubee will really be graded on the pitchers who struggled in 2016 and whether they will improve in 2017.

But what I found most interesting – and somewhat alarming – is how others, instead of Dubee, are helping pitchers regain their form. McCann reviewed video with Lowe, made suggestions and Lowe has since improved markedly. Ausmus caught and worked with Sanchez the other day which just resulted in 4 scoreless innings. And it was written that Boyd tweaked his delivery all on his own and “surprised” Rich when he saw it.

I always allow a one-year adjustment period for all non-players. This is the year Rich really needs to deliver and not just with the exceptional talent. We need to see an overall improvement in the majority of pitchers in order to give him a passing grade. Better and sustained performance from Zimmermann, Sanchez, Norris, Rondon and a handful of other key relievers will be a more accurate appraisal of his coaching ability.


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If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:

      Who was behind the team bonding day?  It’s not who you think.

      Scouts are talking and they indicate the Tigers are looking to add an outside CFer and also another backup catcher.

      Through age 33, there are only a handful of players with more hits than Miggy.

      Why sabermetrics don’t matter when Miggy is at the plate.

      Now that the automatic intentional walk is official, managers are getting creative in how they signal it.

      Stats show great promise for Matt Boyd evolving into a top of the rotation pitcher.

3 thoughts on “ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

  1. Dubee’s probationary status is over. There are enough study subjects for us to observe so it shouldn’t be difficult to evaluate his coaching skills. It won’t take long to see if he’s a difference maker or someone who doesn’t make a difference.

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  2. Tiger pitchers rarely “work” inside, even if opposing hitters are crowding the plate and sitting on pitches on the outside corner. This is especially frustrating after a Tiger batter has recently been hit. Don Drysdale said that the inside of the plate was the hitter’s, but the outside was his. Therefore, if a rival crowded the plate, he got a “haircut”!

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  3. Everyone else BUT Dubee is leading this pitching core. Pitching is an extremely complex part of this game. Keep it to the basics.Delivery mechanics, arms, legs, space between the ears. I am not sure his “vaunted” inside of the plate mandate is anything but death to pitcher if these areas noted above are not in good working order.

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