Strom hired as D-backs' pitching coach

November 19th, 2021

PHOENIX -- It wasn't long into his first talk with Brent Strom that D-backs manager Torey Lovullo realized that he had found his next pitching coach.

"He had me at hello," Lovullo said. "Everything he did checked every single box. Whether it was something I read, something I heard, something I watched or certainly something that I was able to get from him in our sitdown."

The D-backs made Strom's hiring official on Thursday. He will replace Matt Herges, who was the team's pitching coach the past two seasons.

Strom, who is regarded as one of the best pitching coaches in the game, was the D-backs' top target once Strom announced that he would not return to Houston, where he served as pitching coach for eight seasons.

The team reached out to Strom right after the end of the World Series to gauge his interest and it was pleasantly surprised to hear he was interested in interviewing.

"I was excited about it," Strom said. "I live in Tucson, Ariz., so obviously proximity played a piece in it. I'm just kind of excited. It's kind of a new challenge, a fresh start. I think, actually, they were the only team that came calling quite frankly, outside of consulting-type work, which I had considered. I heard so much from so many people about the quality of people that work in this organization that it was worth meeting them and seeing if they had some interest."

Even though the team was waiting for the standard background check to be completed before making the hiring official, Strom has already been hard at work studying up on the Arizona pitching staff and meeting various members of the organization.

"He's already made us better," Lovullo said.

Some of that was from Strom sharing with the D-backs what the Astros' organization does as opposed to the D-backs.

"Some of them are very similar and some of it is a little bit different," Strom said of the two organizations' approaches. "This is going to be open to discussion to determine what's going to be the best way moving forward."

The 73-year-old is known for being able to incorporate analytics into his teaching methods, something he had tremendous success doing with the Astros. Strom was able to help turn waiver claims Will Harris and Collin McHugh into solid big league pitchers, and he helped Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton reach the next level when they came to Houston.

Dallas Keuchel (2015) and Justin Verlander (2019) each won AL Cy Young Awards while pitching under Strom.

One area you can expect Strom to emphasize is throwing fastballs up in the zone. The D-backs did not do that nearly enough for Strom's taste last year.

"I'll give you an example that I mentioned to them," Strom said. "The D-backs ranked 30th in elevated fastballs. They ranked second in fastballs down in the zone. That's unsustainable in today's game, for me. It's something that I think can be addressed, as long as we teach it correctly and explain why it works. It's something that probably contributed to [having] less success than they should have achieved."

The D-backs overhauled their coaching staff following the 52-110 season with only first-base coach Dave McKay, third-base coach Tony Perezchica and bullpen coach Mike Fetters returning in their previous roles.

Over the last month, along with Strom, Joe Mather has been hired as hitting coach and Jeff Banister was tabbed the new bench coach.

That still leaves a pair of assistant hitting coach positions to be filled, as well as an assistant pitching coach spot. Strom said he suggested a couple of external names to Lovullo and the team will look at them, as well as some internal candidates.