On Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced new staff changes for the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at who Dusty Blake is and what he brings (or can bring) to the Cardinals pitching staff.
There will be a new pitching coach in town, as Mike Maddux (and the claw) depart the St. Louis Cardinals organization for new opportunities elsewhere. Taking over the reigns as pitching coach for the first time in an MLB uniform will be Dusty Blake.
But wait, who exactly is Dusty Blake?
When you find Dusty Blake’s profile in the Cardinals’ Front Office Directory, you’ll find that he’s been with the organization for two years as “Major League Pitching Strategist”. Before he came to the Cardinals, Blake held stops at various college baseball programs, where he had success at all programs and improved performance.
Before coming to the Cardinals, Dusty Blake was the pitching coach at Duke University. With Blake in charge overseeing Duke pitchers, the team ERA among Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams went from 7th in 2018 to 1st in the COVID-shortened 2020 season:
In 2018, Duke set a school-record for pitchers’ strikeouts with 575, and the Blue Devils broke their records the very next year with 598. What makes this even more impressive is that the team continued to rack up Ks after their ace, Graeme Stinson, now with the Tampa Bay organization, was out all season with injury.
It was with Duke that Dusty Blake learned how to utilize modern technology (Trackman, Rapsodo, etc.) to assist his pitchers. Blake’s interview with Figure It Out Baseball shows how he uses advanced data metrics to effectively communicate with his pitchers to find strengths and weaknesses of their pitches on a case-by-case basis.
(Bonus: There’s even a Mike Shildt reference at the 31:07 mark of the interview!)
Hiring Dusty Blake shows that the St. Louis Cardinals have committed to new innovative ideas for the pitching staff. Blake’s track record at previous college baseball programs shows he can improve pitching staffs performance through increased pitch effectiveness i.e., better “stuff”.
And the St. Louis Cardinals love their pitchers with effective “stuff”.