The Minnesota Twins named Garvin Alston their new pitching coach Thursday afternoon. Although he’s not a well-known name, fans have to trust Derek Falvey with the move.
When the Minnesota Twins announced Garvin Alston as their new pitching coach Thursday afternoon, it was met with an uneven reception.
If you’re scratching your head over this move, that’s perfectly understandable. I mean, the 45-year old Alston isn’t necessarily a big name, certainly not compared to the likes of John Farrell on the market. Not to mention, he coached with the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics last season, not exactly great pitching teams in the MLB. That may even be an understatement considering the teams ranked 22nd and 23rd in team pitching, respectively.
Nevertheless, Alston has never held the title of pitching coach in the MLB, so it’s hard to speculate how well he’ll do in this role with the Twins. The only thing Minnesota fans can look on is the work of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey over the course of his career.
Known as a pitching expert, Falvey helped build a Cleveland Indians pitching staff that has placed itself in the top-10 in baseball the last three seasons. Not to mention, the top pitching team in 2017. Although he started his role with the Twins last season, he’s largely responsible for how great the Indians’ pitching staff has become.
Last year, Falvey helped improve the Twins pitching staff with under-the-radar signings of catchers Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez. In fact, Castro ranked tenth in baseball with a 4.16 catcher ERA in 108 games according to Fox Sports. The result was a 19th place finish in team pitching, up from 29th the year before. Quite the jump for a team that didn’t add much to the pitching staff.
One other under-the-radar move Falvey made heading into 2017 was the addition of hitting coach James Rowson. He wasn’t exactly the “ideal” pickup either. Yet, when you look at how he helped the likes of Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, and Eddie Rosario improve over the course of the 2017 season, the move looks spectacular.
Furthermore, Rowson helped the Twins rank in the top-10 in runs, hits, total bases, RBIs, average, on base percentage, and OPS. To put in perspective, the Twins only ranked top-10 in total bases in 2016. Basically, the Twins were a far better hitting team, thanks in large part to a brilliant addition by Falvey.
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Heading into 2018, Falvey seems more open to making changes after having one season to assess the organization. While the Twins’ pitching improved, there’s still plenty of work to be done there and that process started with replacing former pitching coach Neil Allen with Alston. Unsurprisingly, another under-the-radar move.
Of course, everyone would have liked the Twins to make a big statement and go after a well-known name. This is especially the case when it comes to pitching coach, considering pitching has been the huge area of weakness over much of the last decade.
Yet, when you look at Falvey’s track record, you see he’s one of the best pitching evaluators out there and has a knack for making the right moves, albeit not always popular. The move may not make sense to the average fan, but the 34-year old baseball executive knows what he’s doing, especially when it comes to pitching. So, if Alston is his guy for pitching coach, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be successful.
That being said, there’s always a chance things don’t work out, but that’s the case with every move. But, for the time being, Twins fans should give the addition of Garvin Alston their stamp of approval considering Falvey was the man making the move.