Dave Duncan’s Diamonds
The St. Louis Cardinals resigned pitching coach Dave Duncan to a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2013. It is reassuring for Cardinal fans to know that one of the best, if not the best, pitching coaches in the game will be guiding their rotation and bullpen for a few more years.
Some have called Dave Duncan a miracle worker. He has taken castoffs and has-beens and revived life into their arms and careers. It is as if he has found diamonds lying on the ground, picked them up and polished them off. Duncan has been by Tony LaRussa’s side for many years and has a firm foundation in the top three spots in the rotation for the coming season. Let’s take a look back at his body of work as Duncan has polished some old gems and uncovered some new ones:
Andy Benes won a career high 18 games with a 3.83 ERA and finished third in Cy Young voting.
Donovan Osborne won 13 games with a 3.53 ERA; both career bests.
T. J. Mathews 3.01 ERA 80 K in 83 IP (former 36th round pick)
Matt Morris tied for second in Rookie of the Year and won the Sporting News Rookie of the Year vote logging over 200 innings and nailing down a 3.19 ERA.
Kent Bottenfield went 18-7 with a 3.79 ERA (which he never scratched the surface of before or after) and was a key piece in landing Jim Edmonds in the offseason.
Jose Jimenez threw a no-hitter on June 25 against Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks. Jimenez did not finish with great numbers but became a key piece in the deal for Daryl Kile in 2000.
Daryl Kile won 20 games with a 3.91 ERA after spending two miserable seasons in the thin air of Colorado suffering ERA’s in the 5’s and 6’s.
Garrett Stephenson came out of nowhere to win 16 games.
Rick Ankiel finished second in the Rookie of the Year vote while striking out 194 in 175 innings.
Woody Williams won 7 games after an August acquisition with a 2.11 ERA in 11 starts.
Matt Morris returned to his first full season after Tommy John surgery and won 22 games finishing behind Johnson and Schilling in Cy Young voting.
Bud Smith threw a no-hitter in September and the rookie finished the year with 6 wins in 14 starts with a 3.83 ERA. Later would be a key piece in the Scott Rolen deal.
Chuck Finley was a 39 year-old veteran but started 14 games and won 7 with a 3.80 ERA.
Jason Simontacchi, former 21st round pick, won 11 games with a 4.02 ERA.
Cal Eldred was nearing the end of his career and had not been good since his rookie year. Duncan brought Eldred out of the bullpen and led him to three of his best years as a pitcher
Dan Haren did not fair well as a rookie (3-7 5.08 ERA) but would later become an All-Star pitcher.
Chris Carpenter never had a year with an ERA under 4.00 before joining the Cardinals. Finished the season 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA.
Jason Marquis came over from the Braves and had his career best year with 15 wins and a 3.71 ERA.
Jeff Suppan won 16 games finishing with a 4.16 ERA, his career best up to that point.
Jeff Weaver came up big in the postseason as the Cardinals won it all. In two World Series starts he struck out 14 in 13 innings pitched.
Adam Wainwright took over the closer duties and his big bending breaking ball secured the NLCS and World Series titles.
Joel Pineiro had some good season in his early years in Seattle but had waned a bit. He finished the ’07 campaign 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA as Duncan converted him back from the bullpen into a starter.
Todd Wellemeyer ended up at 13-9 and a 3.71 ERA, his career best season.
Kyle Lohse finished at 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA, his career best to this point.
Ryan Franklin continued his Duncan transformation taking over the closer role and saving 38 games with a 1.92 ERA.
Jaime Garcia finished with a 2.70 ERA as a rookie with 13 wins.
What begins to become a theme for Duncan is his adaptability. He’s able to take a rookie pitcher (Matt Morris, Rick Ankiel, Jaime Garcia) and turn their great talents into star performances. He’s also able to take a veteran who seems to be out of gas and quickly show them some mechanical flaws or even a new pitch (like Duncan’s love of the cutter or sinking fastball) and shape them into serviceable if not “shut-em-down” pitchers. Sometimes the reaping was not in the present but in how these pitchers were able to land key pieces for the Cardinals future. Seemingly, these pitchers would move on and never reclaim their former self again. This is the true mark of the impact Duncan has as a coach. A coach brings out the best in what you have. Dave Duncan has truly been great at making his players great. Cardinal’s fans should relish the time they have to watch what Duncan can do in his next years as his legacy continues.