When the Red Sox let John Farrell go after the team’s second consecutive early playoff exit, they let the other coaches on the staff that they could look for new opportunities. As we know, new managers generally come in and like to bring in their own guys to fill out the rest of the staff. There’s always a chance some coaches in any given situation can stick around, but it’s always worth it to see what else is out there, just in case. We now know that pitching coach is one area that will see a new face in 2018. The incumbent, Carl Willis, just accepted a job to take over as Cleveland’s pitching coach. He’ll be replacing Mickey Callaway, who accepted a job to manage the Mets.
The Indians have hired Carl Willis to replace Mickey Callaway as pitching coach. Willis had the same role w/ CLE from 2003-09.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) October 26, 2017
As Meisel notes in the tweet above, Willis served as Cleveland’s pitching coach from 2003-2009 in what was his first coaching job in the majors. After going to Seattle for a few years, he returned to Cleveland’s organization for a few months, coaching in Triple-A before being hired away by the Red Sox in May of 2015. Willis has had a very successful career as a pitching coach, with four Cy Young winners under his tutelage (C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez and Rick Porcello).
As for what this means for the Red Sox, well, it certainly means they will be in the market for a new pitching coach. As I outlined here, this is a good winter to be in the need of another pitching coach as there is a plethora of respected ones available. In addition to the names mentioned in that post, I should also mention the possibility of promotion Brian Bannister from his front office role to one in the dugout, though it’s not even clear if that’s something he’s interested in. Still, there will be some big shoes to fill for whoever is the new pitching coach. Under Willis over the last two seasons, the Red Sox were the second-best pitching staff in the American League by ERA. I can’t honestly tell you how much of that was due to Willis himself, but he certainly played a role and the players seemed to like him a lot. That means something, at least.