For a young, aspiring pitching coach, it doesn’t get much better than an endorsement from the newly crowned Cy Young Award winner.
Caleb Cotham has the support of Trevor Bauer, and within the last few days, he emerged from a second round of interviews as the “heavy favorite” to be hired as Phillies pitching coach, a source confirmed Saturday.
An announcement could come early in the week.
Cotham, 33, worked with Bauer as the Cincinnati Reds' assistant pitching coach for the last two seasons. He also pitched for Phillies manager Joe Girardi with the New York Yankees in 2015 and former Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price with the Reds in 2016.
“Caleb was really helpful with a lot of the technical stuff,” Bauer told reporters last month. “I haven’t really had that situation before, where I have someone that I respect in the technological standpoint, the really nitty-gritty pitch-shaping and understanding the mechanics and how the ball was moving and stuff like that. It was good to have someone to bounce those ideas off of and have those conversations.”
Indeed, Cotham’s approach to pitching instruction was shaped, in part, by his experience with Driveline Baseball, a Seattle-area think tank that uses advanced technology to help optimize a pitcher’s performance.
But Cotham also played with David Price, Mike Minor, and Sonny Gray at Vanderbilt, and worked alongside highly regarded pitching coach Derek Johnson in college and with the Reds.
As much as anything, the Phillies need their next pitching coach to provide continuity. Cotham would be the team’s fifth pitching coach in as many years, following Bob McClure (2017), Rick Kranitz (2018), Chris Young (2019), and Price (2020).
That’s a lot of different voices filling the heads of Phillies pitchers.
Rich Dubee, another former Phillies pitching coach, was among the candidates who reached the second round of interviews but has been eliminated from consideration, according to two sources. It’s unclear how many other candidates were in the running, although it’s believed that assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist and minor-league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves were also considered.
The Phillies have yet to fill their opening for a new bullpen coach after Jim Gott’s contract wasn’t renewed last month.
NBC Sports Philadelphia was first to report the Phillies' narrowing of their search to Cotham.