Nagy Critical To the Success of the Young D’backs Starting Pitching Staff

By Michael Jenkins

Feb 24, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach Charles Nagy (center) talks with pitchers including starting pitcher Josh Collmenter (55) and relief pitcher J.J. Putz (40) during a workout at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

There might not be a more important person in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization this season than pitching coach Charles Nagy. The 45 year-old is entering his third season as Arizona’s pitching coach and will have to manage a staff of relatively young arms. Whether it be the organization of a starting staff to repairing mechanics of each of his pitchers to being a makeshift psychologist, the pitching coach has to do it all for his group that he is in charge of. Luckily for the D’backs, Nagy is a great fit for their staff as both he and his staff try to continue to prove themselves in the big leagues.

Nagy was a professional pitcher before he turned to coaching. The sinker-ball throwing, right-handed pitcher pitched for two major league clubs (Cleveland, San Diego) over a career that spanned 14 seasons. The three-time All-Star finished his career with a 129-105 record, including a stretch from 1995-1999 where he averaged 15 wins a season, a feat only matched by future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux.

Nagy was a workhorse for the Cleveland Indians during his prime. He ate up innings with regularity and was arguably the Tribe’s best pitcher leading them to the World Series twice (1995, 1997) during his stint with the club. His playing career was eventually derailed by elbow issues.

After his playing career was over, Nagy worked for the Indians in thier front office before turning to coaching. He began his career at the professional level in Salt Lake City with the Class AAA Bees serving as their pitching coach in 2006-07.

He would then move on to Class AAA Columbus where he would hold the same role with the Clippers. In 2010, the Clippers won the Class AAA championship with Nagy at the controls of their staff. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by the D’backs.

In his brief tenure as D’backs pitching coach, Nagy has made marked improvements. In 2011, four pitchers won more than 10 games (Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter). Kennedy won 21 games and Hudson 16 games which led the National League as a duo.  Also, in 2011, the D’backs staff ERA dropped 1.01 from the previous season (4.81 to 3.80), representing the biggest drop in all of Major League Baseball.

In 2012, a slight increase in the stats was seen as the D’backs underwent a number of changes. Hudson’s injury, the trade of Saunders and the introduction of a number of new pitchers into the rotation led to a slightly higher ERA (3.93) and a dip for the D’backs in their overall statistical output.

With the D’backs starting staff being relatively young (all under the age of 30), Nagy’s job is to formulate, teach and refine a staff, many of whom are still learning the game at the big league level.

Apr. 17, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy throws in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field.Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The oldest starting pitcher on the D’Backs is newly acquired Brandon McCarthy (29). Staff ace Ian Kennedy is 27 and coming off a sub-par year based on his expectations. Last season’s pleasant surprise and 2nd place finisher in the Rookie of the Year voting, Wade Miley, is 26. Daniel Hudson is 25, but not fully healthy as he is coming off of major elbow surgery (Tommy John). He is not slated to return until mid-July. Trevor Cahill is 24 and is looking to better his form from last year. Patrick Corbin is 23 and coming off of a season in which he recieved several opportunities to show what he had, with mixed results. Tyler Skaggs is the most hyped of all the D’backs prospects, but at the age of 21, he struggled at times at the major league level last season.

For Nagy, his job is to round up this group of eccletic pitchers and make each and every one better at their jobs. If the D’backs are going to have success this season, their starting pitching will have to be stellar. That job begins and ends with Charles Nagy.