Redbird Rants reported on Thursday evening that Dave Duncan would be taking a leave of absence from the St. Louis Cardinals. How long Duncan plans to be away from the club remains to be seen.
What Dave Duncan brings to the Cardinals pitching staff is invaluable. One of the better examples in recent years of his ability to help pitchers would have to be Kyle Lohse. Lohse came over to the Cardinals as a free agent prior to the start of the 2008 season and would later sign a 4-year deal to remain a member of the club through the end of this season. Traded from the Twins to the Reds in 2006, Lohse looked as if he was probabbly going to the bullpen. With the Reds, his record was 9-17 with a ERA of 4.58 over two seasons. The Reds sent him packing to the Phillies where he went 3-0 with an ERA of 4.72 but Lohse started 11 of the 13 games that he played in.
Lohse opts to stay in the NL and head to the Cardinals. In his first season, with the aid of Duncan as a coach, Lohse had a record of 15-6 and a then-career best ERA of 3.58 in 33 starts. Obviously, Lohse did not have great seasons the next two years but he pitched well in 2011, besting his ERA with a new career best of 3.39 and a 14-9 record over 30 starts.
One can look at other pitchers over the years but there is no pitching coach out there that is better than Dave Duncan. Since the start of the 1996 season, Dave Duncan has been a mainstay in the St. Louis dugout.
Before joining the Cardinals, Duncan was a pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians (1979–1981), Seattle Mariners (1982), Chicago White Sox (1983–1986), and Oakland Athletics (1986–1995). From 1983 until the end of the 2011 season, Duncan served as a pitching coach under Tony La Russa. All in all, Duncan has served as a coach for 32 seasons where he saw 4 players bring home a Cy Young Award.
As Cardinal fans very well know, this is not the first time that Duncan took a leave of absence to take care of his wife, Jeanine, who is battling a brain tumor. Late in the season, Duncan took a leave on August 22nd only to return for the final game of the regular season and the postseason run that ensued soon thereafter.
Personally, I echo the thoughts my fellow members of Cardinals Nation when I say that my thoughts and prayers are with Dave, Jeanine, Chris, and Shelley Duncan.