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Nats pitchers glad to have Steve McCatty back

Feb 3, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

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With the Nationals bringing in Matt Williams as their new manager this offseason, technically it left up in the air whether the rest of the coaching staff would return. Soon after the hiring, the Nats announced Steve McCatty and Randy Knorr would be back in 2014, among others, much to the delight of players and fans.

The continuity was celebrated by many, but the news of McCatty returning was particularly pleasing to the team’s pitching staff. In four and a half seasons, McCatty has overseen a group of talented young pitchers emerge as one of the best units in baseball.

Nationals pitchers have accomplished a lot with McCatty at the helm, and they want to finish what they’ve started with him.

“It’s awesome. I love having Cat there in my corner,” Stephen Strasburg said. “I think a lot of the other guys in the rotation would say the same. He’s a guy that you can trust. If you go out there and get shelled or you go out there and pitch well, he’s not going to treat you any different.”

“I’m very excited to have McCatty stick around with the coaching staff,” Drew Storen – who has been through some tough times with the help of McCatty – said.

Ross Detwiler says he never really doubted McCatty would be back. He considers him so important to the team that he never even pondered the possibility of him leaving.

“I knew he was coming back,” Detwiler said. “We always knew he was coming back, I thought so anyway. Was there ever a doubt? I didn’t even think about that.”

There was, of course, a chance McCatty would not return. The 59-year-old will now serve under his fifth manager as a member of the Nationals’ staff. In the four full seasons he’s coached with the Nationals, five different Nats pitchers have earned a trip to the All-Star game.

Just look at the Nats pitching staff’s progression under McCatty in terms of team ERA:

2009 – 5.00 ERA – 28th in majors, 16th in NL

2010 – 4.13 ERA – 19th in majors, 11th in NL

2011 – 3.58 ERA – 7th in majors, 6th in NL

2012 – 3.33 ERA – 2nd in majors, 1st in NL

2013 – 3.59 ERA – 8th in majors, 6th in NL

Their numbers dipped slightly in 2013, but that can be attributed in part to Dan Haren’s first half and the bullpen’s failings. Both the backend of their rotation and bullpen figure to be much improved in 2014.

The Nationals hope to win a lot of games this year with help of their pitching staff, and once again McCatty will be there coaching them along the way.

  1. Theophilus T.S. - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Considering the turnover among the Nats’ pitchers since 2009, it is arguable the improvement in their collective statistics over the last five seasons owes as much to the FO as to McCatty. Having said that, I think McCatty is the steadying influence every pitching staff needs. In the middle of the season, hitters can be dissected and reconstructed in the batting cage if they’re having trouble. Pitchers don’t have the time — without a trip to the minors — to tweak or experiment, let alone reinvent; they have to be brought back, patiently, to the things they worked on in ST, the things that got them to the major leagues. McCatty is the kind of guy who can repair while teaching (or teach while repairing) and do it without shredding egos.

  2. knoxvillenat - Feb 3, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Well we no longer have the likes of J.D. Martin and others taking the mound every 5 days so yes I give some credit to Rizzo but I also give McCatty credit for getting these guys through the early stages of their careers with some success. Now if he could just get his starters to go deeper into the game on a more consistent basis, especially Stras and Gio.

    • Sonny G 10 - Feb 4, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      And also if he could just get the pitchers to hold the runners on base better.

      • Joe Seamhead - Feb 4, 2014 at 6:49 AM

        +1, Sonny
        That is a question that I have had regarding Cat for a while now.The only quote I ever heard from a pitcher, and H-Rod is a poor source of course, but he claimed that he was told to forget the runners, just concentrate on the batter.i think that ML pitchers should be able to hold runners. Hell, when my son played high school, and college ball the coaches had regular workouts on holding runners.

  3. sunshinebobby - Feb 3, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    Cat’s the best. Besides, he knows where all the bodies are buried.

  4. David Proctor - Feb 3, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    Jon Morosi ‏@jonmorosi 46s
    Just spoke with Scott Boras. He says he is “very close” to deals for Oliver Perez, Jeff Baker, K-Rod and Suk-min Yoon.

    I didn’t realize that Baker was a Boras client. It seems like a no-brainer that he ends up here then, right? Am I missing something?

    • knoxvillenat - Feb 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      Or maybe lefty Perez for the BP?

  5. DaveB - Feb 3, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    I love the quotes from Stras. There seemed to be a few tense discussions between he and Cat over the last year or two (e.g., after getting pulled from games, etc.). Good to see that Stras still seems so enthusiastic about him as the coach.

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