Diamondbacks News

Dave Duncan Ready to Impact Young Pitching Staff

By John Tenney

Former St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach Dave Duncan has been a much needed addition to the Arizona Diamondbacks, especially for the batch of young arms that have been signed this off-season. Duncan has worked his magic with the likes of Adam Wainright and Derek Lilliquist, both formidable pitchers for a St. Louis ball club that dominates the N.L. Central Division and usually makes for a serious post-season contender towards a World Series appearance.

Now that Duncan is with the Diamondbacks the question raised is how can he be effective in guiding a younger pitching staff to more effective starts with the possibility of getting more W’s in the record column this season? In the past, Duncan’s coaching style was described as having an advanced scouting method, working with his pitchers to learn to exploit hitters weaknesses.

Noting this approach ESPN reports that 36.6% of an at-bat with RISP a hitter will swing at a first pitch. Opposite of that in a non RISP situation the likely-hood of a hitter swinging at a first pitch falls to 26.8%.

In the past while working with Adam Wainright, who was noted as throwing a first pitch fastball a colossal 42% of each batter faced. Such aggressiveness by the hurler is a great strategy that will hopefully work well with the new, but younger Diamondbacks pitching staff.

Also, working with first pitch effectiveness one cannot ignore the principle of keeping the ball down to generate more ground-ball putouts and double-plays to keep an opponent off the scoreboard or keep the score close so that Arizona’s offense can drive in runs with minimal pressure.

Duncan preached this philosophy frequently in St. Louis. With these ideas in mind, Duncan’s approach to coaching certainly takes aggressiveness at the plate as a main factor in pitch selection.

With younger pitchers such as Allen Webster, Robbie Ray, Jeremy Hellickson, Chase Anderson and starting ace Josh Collmenter, only time will tell if Duncan’s approach will improve each of the five starters as well as help an ailing bullpen.