Braves Pitching Coach Roger McDowell Continues To Impress

McDowell Has Been With Atlanta For Eight Seasons

Friday, August 16, 2013
Roger McDowell
Roger McDowell
- photo by Tim Evearitt

ATLANTA -- Bobby Cox surprised many when he chose Roger McDowell to succeed Leo Mazzone as Atlanta's pitching coach a few weeks after the 2005 season concluded. After spending the previous 15 seasons sitting alongside "The Rocker" (Mazzone), Cox had suddenly paired himself with a man who would have been appropriately dubbed "The Joker" during his playing career.

Eight seasons later, the Braves view Cox's shrewd choice of McDowell as anything but a joke.

Since joining Atlanta's staff, McDowell has distanced himself from those days when he lit unsuspecting teammates' cleats on fire in the dugout and earned a Ph.D. in clubhouse pranks. While he still has the ability to keep things loose with his witty tongue, he is now more of an analytical soul. McDowell's attention to detail and tireless preparations have proven invaluable to the Braves, who boast the Majors' best record courtesy of a pitching staff that has compiled the second-best ERA this season.

When Gonzalez assumed his current post once Cox retired after the 2010 season, there was never any doubt he would keep McDowell on his coaching staff. Sure, the two are close friends and neighbors. But more importantly, McDowell had spent the previous five seasons successfully guiding pitching staffs that were not anywhere near as talented as the ones Atlanta celebrated during the Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine era.

Dating back to 2006 -- McDowell's first season in Atlanta -- the Braves have compiled the second-best ERA (3.82) in the Majors. That is remarkable when you consider the club ranked 12th and 10th in ERA among National League clubs in 2006 and '08, a stretch during which Smoltz and Tim Hudsonwere the only Atlanta pitchers to make more starts than Chuck James, Jo-Jo Reyes and Kyle Davies.

The talent level and results have proven to be much better as the Braves have posted the game's best ERA dating back to 2009. This stretch was marred by both disappointing signings -- Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami -- and the sudden injury-influenced decay of a pair of once-promising pitchers -- Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.

But in the midst of theses frustrations, McDowell has spent the past few years fostering the development of the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheranand his newest pupil, Alex Wood. At the same time, McDowell has proven capable of getting the most out of the wise under-the-radar waiver-wire acquisitions of Eric O'Flaherty and David Carpenter.

Veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird competed in the World Series the past two seasons and has been part of four big league clubs over the past 11 seasons. Since arriving in Atlanta, he has been impressed with McDowell's ability to compile comprehensive scouting reports and relate the necessary message in a manner that each of his pitchers and the catchers can understand in the process of developing game plans .

During his 12-season big league career, McDowell was a one-pitch reliever who did not have much need for the antiquated video analysis that was available. But since assuming his current role, he has dedicated himself to taking advantage of the technological assets that are now available.

With the help of video coordinator Rob Smith, McDowell spends lots of time analyzing both the mechanics of his pitchers and the approaches taken by the hitters his pitchers will face during an upcoming series or game. Much of the analysis is used to develop game plans. But a quick in-game look at footage can also provide the opportunity to guide one of his pitchers through the remainder of that particular game.

None of this seemed to be in McDowell's future when he retired in 1997 and then spent a few years away from the game. But while doing some community relations work for the Dodgers, he reunited with Dave Wallace, his former pitching coach, and began developing a passion for coaching.

After serving as the pitching coach for the Class A South Georgia Waves in 2002-03, McDowell spent the next two years handling the same role for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. His success led both the Mariners and Braves to come calling for him to become their big league pitching coach after the 2005 season.

Eight years later, McDowell continues to savor the knowledge and direction he has gained through his relationship with Wallace, the highly-respected veteran pitching guru who has spent the past four seasons serving as the Braves' Minor League pitching coordinator, a role that has enabled him to guide Teheran, Beachy, Minor and other prospects in the manner he once did the likes of Pedro Martinez and Orel Hershiser.

Many of the Braves' players have the same sentiments about McDowell, who has continued to provide sanity with his wit and tremendous value with his pitching expertise.

--- Source: MLB.com



Lee Women Win 1-0 Over West Alabama

The No. 17 Lee University women’s soccer team continued its pursuit of the Gulf South Conference (GSC) regular season championship with a 1-0 defeat of West Alabama Sunday afternoon at the Lee Soccer Field. The Lady Flames (12-4, 11-2 GSC) moved back into a tie with Mississippi College at the top of the standings, although Lee holds the head-to-head tie-breaker and would receive ... (click for more)

No. 20 West Alabama Survive Lee Upset

Thanks to a goal with just 36 seconds left in double overtime the No. 20 West Alabama Tigers survived a 2-1 battle with the Lee men's soccer team on Sunday afternoon from the Lee Soccer Field. Owen Keck broke a scoreless tie in the 83rd minute as he headed in a cross from Samir Williams to give the Flames a 1-0 lead over the Tigers. The Gulf South leaders wouldn't go away however ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Arrested

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, was located and was in custody as of 3:25 p.m. ... (click for more)

Travis Caslin, 42, Shot While Walking Along South Willow Street

Chattanooga Police said a man was shot on Friday night while walking along South Willow Street.   The victim was identified as Travis Caslin, 42.   At 7:37 p.m., Chattanooga Police officers were called to a local hospital after a person showed up with a gunshot wound.   Police were informed that the victim's condition was non-life threatening. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s All About People

The leaders of Hamilton County’s Mental Health Court held a heart-warming open house Friday afternoon and it was announced that just since February, the creation has saved the county over $3 million in incarceration costs. But to hear County Mayor Jim Coppinger or Judge Don Poole tell it, that’s not what is important. “Soon after the court started, a kind, quiet man I’ll ... (click for more)