Feb 3, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT
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.
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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