Rick Kranitz

Sources: Chris Young out as Phillies pitching coach

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Sources: Chris Young out as Phillies pitching coach

In an expected move, Chris Young is out as Phillies pitching coach, according to sources.

Young spent one season in the role. A year ago at this time, he was elevated from assistant pitching coach to pitching coach, replacing the well-liked Rick Kranitz.

Kranitz was pushed out by manager Gabe Kapler and GM Matt Klentak. The move was made because Young was proficient in the use of data and analytics in building a pitching staff and game-planning. But Young’s methods were never fully embraced by the pitching staff and the popular Kranitz is in the postseason as pitching coach of the National League East champion Atlanta Braves.

It is believed that Young's contract was reworked into a two-year deal when he took over as pitching coach. He could be reassigned to a different role in the organization that suits his strengths of interpreting data and analytics and using them to formulate plans of attack for pitchers.

Resolution on Kapler's fate as Phillies manager is unlikely to come until next week.

The Phillies' team ERA rose from 4.15 in 2018 to 4.53 in 2019. It closely mirrored the leaguewide rise in ERA from 4.14 to 4.49. 

The Phillies simply didn't see enough improvement from their pitchers this past season. They used 31 pitchers (excluding position players), with only Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Zach Eflin pitching more effectively than they did a year ago as Phillies. Eflin was an interesting case in particular — he started the year strong before encountering midseason struggles and going back to favoring his sinker over the four-seam fastball. The Phillies wanted their pitchers to attack more with high heaters and the results never came.

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Interesting subplot brews in NL East as rival Braves hire Rick Kranitz, Phillies' deposed pitching coach

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Interesting subplot brews in NL East as rival Braves hire Rick Kranitz, Phillies' deposed pitching coach

After the Phillies surprisingly fired pitching coach Rick Kranitz last month, we wrote this line:

Kranitz, who had previously served as head major-league pitching coach with Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee, should have no trouble hooking on with another organization.

Well, this has proven true.

Kranitz, according to people close to him, is about to be named head pitching coach of the Atlanta Braves. This means he is poised to take three years worth of intel gained on the Phillies' staff to one of the team's biggest National League East rivals.

Kranitz, 60, served as bullpen coach, assistant pitching coach and head pitching coach during his three years with the Phillies and was popular with the team's pitchers. He and Bob McClure were both influential in Aaron Nola's development at the major league level. Nola finished third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2018. McClure had served as head Phillies pitching coach from 2014 to 2017. Kranitz took over in 2018.

Even though he had a year left on his contract, Kranitz was abruptly let go by the Phillies in November after assistant pitching coach Chris Young had received interest from other clubs, including the Braves. Phillies management did not want to risk losing Young so it promoted him and pushed aside Kranitz, who offered his take on the matter here.

Young, 37, joined the Phillies a year ago after spending three years with the Houston Astros as pro scouting supervisor. The Astros are one of baseball's most progressive organizations and Young is well schooled in the modern approach (video, data-based matchup study) that many teams — including the Phillies — are now taking toward coaching and game preparation.

The Braves overtook the Phillies down the stretch in 2018 to win the NL East. Kranitz replaces Chuck Hernandez as Atlanta's pitching coach and he will see a lot of his former team. The Braves and Phillies play 19 times per season and they will open the 2019 season against each other on March 28 in Philadelphia.

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Former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz leaves on the high road

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Former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz leaves on the high road

When the news broke that he had been let go as Phillies pitching coach earlier this week, Rick Kranitz's cell phone started dinging.

And dinging.

And dinging.

From all over the country and Latin America, stunned Phillies pitchers sent well wishes.

"I heard from all of them," Kranitz said Friday from his home in Arizona. "It meant a lot. It was nice to know they were thinking of me.

"That's the thing I'm going to miss the most, the relationships I've built with these guys. The players are the ones who do it but I was always happy to be able to guide them through the good times, the tough times, the emotional times. I've been in the game for 40 years and the relationships have always been what means the most to me."

Kranitz, 60, was pushed aside in favor of Chris Young. Kranitz had been with the Phillies for three seasons, first as bullpen coach, then as assistant pitching coach and finally as head pitching coach in 2018. Teams don't typically let coaches go in mid-November, particularly after saying seven weeks earlier that the entire coaching staff would be returning. In this case, Young, 37, had received interest from other clubs and rather than risk losing him the Phillies promoted him from assistant pitching coach to head pitching coach. Kranitz was told that he was free to seek employment with other organizations, though the Phillies will still pay him through 2019.

The whole thing seems cold, but Kranitz is taking the high road. He's a big boy. He's been around — he'd previously been pitching coach in Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee — and understands the business of baseball and these days the business of baseball is more new school than old school. That doesn't mean it's better. It's just the way it is for now.

"I was surprised and very disappointed when I first got the news," Kranitz said. "I'd built a lot of good relationships with this group. I believe in every one of these guys and I believe the future is bright for the Phillies. I wanted to see it through."

The news that Kranitz had been let go broke on Wednesday. That night, Aaron Nola finished third in the NL Cy Young voting. For three years, Kranitz had been influential in Nola's development.

"I was so proud of that young man," Kranitz said. "He deserves everything he gets. He's a class individual and the Phillies are lucky to have such a special young pitcher — not just a pitcher but a person. I could not have been prouder. I'm thankful to have gotten the chance to watch him, grateful to be able to see special times."

Kranitz began his pro career as a pitcher in the Brewers' system in 1979. He would like to continue to work and surely some team will benefit from his wisdom. But in the meantime, he intends to spend his unexpected free time focusing on the people who have always been there for him, his wife Kelly and their four children.

"We have four grandkids and one on the way in March," Kranitz said. "So I'll be around for the birth and that makes me happy. 

"This game has been great to me. The Phillies were great to me. It didn't end great but my experience with the city and the people in that organization was great. Now it's time to shift my focus to my family and give back to them."

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