Diamondbacks Officially Hire Brent Strom as Pitching Coach
PHOENIX, Nov. 18 — The Arizona Diamondbacks, days after the first reports surfaced, officially announced the hiring of Brent Strom as their new pitching coach Thursday afternoon. This comes shortly after Strom ended an eight-season stint as the pitching coach of the Houston Astros (2014-21).
Strom, 73, comes to the Diamondbacks with a strong resume. He began coaching in 1980. Over the years, he has worked in the minors for multiple organizations, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and Montréal Expos. At the major league level, he has worked two separate stints as the pitching coach for the Astros, also serving in 1996, and was the Kansas City Royals pitching coach from 2000-01.
Success of Brent Strom
His most recent spell in Houston was his most successful. Two pitchers — Dallas Keuchel (2015) and Justin Verlander (2019) — won the American League Cy Young Award under his tutelage. Collin McHugh (2015), Gerrit Cole (2018, 2019), Framber Valdez (2020), and Lance McCullers, Jr. (2021) also received Cy Young votes while training with Strom.
In addition, Strom oversaw the five highest single-season strikeout totals in Houston’s 60 seasons as a franchise: 1,687 (’18), 1,670 (’19), 1,593 (’17), 1,456 (’21), and 1,396 (’16). From 2018 to 2021, the Astros cumulatively led the majors in strikeouts (5,339) and Quality Starts (277) while finishing second in ERA (3.60), opponent batting average (.224), and WHIP (1.170). All the success of Astros pitchers led to Baseball America naming Strom their 2018 Coach of the Year.
The hiring is the latest strong hiring in the 2021-22 offseason for the Diamondbacks, who narrowly missed having the worst record in franchise history. In late October, they hired Joe Mather as hitting coach. Around a week later, they hired former Texas Rangers manager Jeff Bannister as bench coach. While both were excellent hires, Strom takes the cake. “We hit the jackpot,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was my desire to have this type of coaching staff built around me…. I wanted all-star coaches around me — guys that were going to make this organization as good as possible with their teachings and content.”
Joining the Diamondbacks
Strom has not crossed paths with many in the Diamondbacks organization before. Two he does know, however, are first base coach Dave McKay and minor-league reliever Chris Devenski. He knew McKay “very well” from their time together in St. Louis, with Strom as the minor league pitching coordinator and McKay as the first base coach. Strom coached Devenski in Houston, adding, “I hope his health is coming along, because he can really help this team.”
However, knowing so few people has not curbed the enthusiasm of Strom, who lives in Tucson in the off-season. He said that when his wife asked him how he felt after this first day with the team, “I felt like the little kid who’s in a new town (and whose) mother drops him off in front of elementary school. I’m a six-year-old, I got my lunch pail with my PB & J and a cookie and maybe a bag of chips. And I’m standing at the front of the door to a new elementary school and she says, ‘Have a great day,’ and you’re scared to death. So there are nerves involved with this, no matter how much you’d like to downplay it, but you want to get off on the right foot. And the people so far that few trips I’ve made up there have been really welcoming and open.”
The team is still interviewing candidates for an assistant pitching coach. From what Lovullo and Strom told the press via Zoom call Thursday afternoon, fans can expect an announcement within the next few days. In the meantime, Strom is working through his current roster of pitchers, making phone calls to get to know everyone. From there, he will strive to bring out the best in every pitcher he works with. If prior success is any indicator, the Diamondbacks and their fans will be pleased with the results.