Braves Hire Rick Kranitz as Pitching Coach
The Atlanta Braves continued their offseason shopping by filling a critical role on the coaching staff. Rick Kranitz has been hired as the club’s new pitching coach.
The Braves announced the hiring in a press release Thursday afternoon.
Kranitz, 60, was dismissed by Philadelphia last month despite some success working with some of the Phillies’ top young arms. In joining Atlanta, he will serve as pitching coach for his fifth organization. He did so for the Marlins, Orioles, Brewers and Phillies in a coaching career that began in the Cubs organization in 1984 and has spanned four decades.
"I'm thrilled to add Rick to our coaching staff," Braves manager Brian Snitker said in a statement from the team. "Right from the start of the interview process, Rick stood out with his knowledge, credentials and experience. He has had a lot of success developing young talent and he is going to have a big impact getting the most out of all of our pitchers."
Kranitz's departure from Philadelphia this winter was somewhat curious. The Phillies first announced the entire coaching staff would return only to later dismiss Kranitz in favor of promoting assistant pitching coach Chris Young, who had reportedly drawn interest from other clubs.
That turn of events gave Atlanta the opportunity to pluck Kranitz from its division rival and fill the vacancy created by Chuck Hernandez's departure after three seasons as Braves pitching coach.
Philadelphia’s 4.15 staff ERA ranked 11th in the National league and 18th in MLB last season. A porous defense that was at or near the bottom in virtually every fielding category certainly did not help matters. Conversely, Phillies pitchers owned a 3.83 FIP (fielding independent pitching) which was second best in the NL and seventh in MLB. (FanGraphs Leaderboard)
As Snitker mentioned, Kranitz has shown the ability to work with young pitchers. He helped Phillies ace Aaron Nola take a step forward last season. That can only be seen as an asset for Atlanta, a team that boasts considerable young talent with varying degrees of experience. The Braves would love for Kranitz to work similar magic with a crop of arms that includes All-Star Mike Foltynewicz, lefty Sean Newcomb, veterans Julio Teheran and Kevin Gausman and a slew of pitching prospects. The bullpen could also benefit from a new message and some new arms.
Pitching coach is a job that often draws the ire of fans, but more than anything it is a role that requires building solid working relationships and trust as much as anything. That is something Kranitz was lauded for with Philadelphia. The adjustments both mechanical and mental are critical components and vary from pitcher to pitcher. While it’s up to the pitcher to execute pitches, the guidance and sounding board provided by the pitching coach are essential.
All of that said, the Braves decided a change in voice and philosophy would be beneficial for their pitching staff. Kranitz will be tasked with aiding the Atlanta staff individually so that it can have more success collectively.
Kranitz joins the coaching staff under Snitker, who received a two-year extension following the season. Bench coach Walt Weiss, hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, first base coach Eric Young Sr. and third base coach Ron Washington all return on two-year contracts as well.