Strom won't return as Astros pitching coach

November 3rd, 2021

HOUSTON – Brent Strom, the well-respected pitching coach who carved out a reputation for turning careers around and taking established pitchers to the next level during his eight years with the Astros, said he’s not returning as Major League pitching coach.

After the Astros had their season come to an end in a 7-0 loss to the Braves in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday, an emotional Strom said it was time to move on. He said he made the decision in the final couple of weeks of the regular season and told general manager James Click over breakfast in Anaheim.

“I’ve been in the game a long time,” he said. “I was out of the game, and [former Astros GM] Jeff Luhnow brought me back. So it’s difficult. We’ll see how I feel in a couple days. There may be another opportunity for me somewhere else. I may look at that. I may just go lie on a beach in Mexico, but I need to enjoy my life a little bit. I haven’t had a summer in a long time. So we’ll see. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I know I won’t be back as the Major League pitching coach here. Yeah. I know that for a fact.”

Strom, 73, said one of the main reasons he’s deciding to move on is that the Astros are in good hands with pitching coach Josh Miller and assistant pitching coach Bill Murphy. He said he talked to Hall of Fame pitcher and friend Sandy Koufax, who told him to “be free with your money and be very careful with your time.”

“I really think this organization’s in a really good position with these two young pitching coaches that we have, and I’m sure had I stayed there would be teams coming after these two guys,” he said. “I think this organization deserves these two young guys, Murphy and Miller, to stay. How they work that out is up to them.

“But I just think that we co-existed this year extremely well, we worked well together, we had a good year. But if you look at all these pitchers that we have right now, most of them came up through those two guys. Outside of Lance [McCullers Jr.] that I had as a holdover, all my guys have kind of moved on.”

Strom was able to blend analytics with his teachings and turn the Astros into a pitching factory. They plucked Will Harris and Collin McHugh off waivers and turned them into solid big leaguers. He helped take Gerrit Cole’s career to a new level in Houston and coached Cy Young winners in Dallas Keuchel in 2015 and Justin Verlander in 2019.

In this year’s World Series, the Astros relied heavily on young starters Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and José Urquidy, all of whom were signed internationally and came through the system. Strom said manager Dusty Baker didn’t find out about his decision until he spoke with Click on Monday.

“I’m very proud of what we did, but it’s time to move on,” he said.

Strom hasn’t ruled out working as a pitching coach in another organization.

“If something comes along that fits, maybe I’ll consider it,” he said. “If it doesn’t come along, that’s fine. I’ve kind of felt that way for a while. It’s been about a month now I’ve known about this. Kind of not wanted to make it a distraction. We’ll see.”

A former Major League pitching coach for the Astros (1996) and Royals (2000-01), Strom was with the Nationals/Expos for five seasons from 2002-06 as Minor League pitching coordinator before joining the Cardinals, where Luhnow was vice president of scouting and player development. Luhnow hired him as pitching coach in Houston prior to the 2014 season.