D-backs pushing pitchers to prime performance

May 6th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

D-backs pitching coach Brent Strom stated up front that he’s a tough grader, so if he had to rank how the first month of the season went for his pitching staff on a scale of 1-10, he went with the midway point.

“I’d give it a five,” Strom said. “There have been some real pluses. There's been some disappointments.”

The biggest disappointment for Strom was the number of walks the staff allowed early in the season.

“I tried to impress during Spring Training about attacking [hitters] and about how even the middle of the plate can be your friend,” Strom said. “And we just kind of got away from it a little bit and tried to be too fine. I think we gave the hitters way too much credit. I think it hurt us and it was some of our veteran guys that actually did it and I think that was most concerning.”

That trend has reversed itself and D-backs pitchers have been walking fewer batters. In large part, Strom said the credit goes to bench/catching coach Jeff Banister, who has worked with catchers and .

“We have to realize there are two very young catchers and Banny has been working overtime with these guys, trying to get them to realize what the pitcher strengths are, what they're capable of doing, what they're not capable of doing,” Strom said.

Speaking of youth, the D-backs have a number of young pitchers on the staff, including rookies in the rotation like , and . Not to mention , who had been in the rotation until being sent down.

With youth comes inevitable ups and downs and Strom has liked how they’ve have navigated that.

“I see this group much more mature than I was when I was a young pitcher coming up,” Strom said. “I took too much to heart. I looked at Pfaadt the other day after [allowing] four home runs and he was unfazed. He knows some things that he has to do and I’m just particularly impressed by him, the toughness of Nellie and Henry is going to hopefully get back to where he was last year.”

And then there’s , who had a 44 1/3 scoreless innings streak last year and just had his streak of 28 scoreless snapped Tuesday in Texas.

Strom was at Dodger Stadium when Don Drysdale set the then-record streak of 58 innings and he was Orel Hershiser’s pitching coach at Triple-A Albuquerque. Hershiser, of course, broke Drysdale’s record with a 59-inning scoreless streak in 1988.

“He’ll start another one here pretty soon,” Strom said of Gallen.