ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Derek Lilliquist, who has served as pitching coach for the Cardinals since 2011, will not return next season.
President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced Tuesday both Lilliquist and bullpen instructor Blaise Ilsley will not have the contracts renewed for 2018.
The move comes after the Cardinal pitching staff finished sixth in the National League in ERA (4.01), despite juggling an ever-changing bullpen and losing two starters.
Mozeliak said the move was designed to spur a shift in pitching strategy, one that embraces the value of analytics and leverages data to improve performance.
“Clearly when you look back at the success of our pitching, it’s been good. But I felt like the process was not ideal for future growth,” he said.
Lilliquist had been with the organization since 2002, and had aided in the development of several pitchers who later played key roles for the Cardinals at the major league level, including Adam Wainwright and closer Jason Motte.
But the ever-expanding pool of data in baseball is too valuable to ignore, and it’s power to improve strategy and performance must be leveraged effectively.
“When you’re looking at pitch strategy and the modernization of the tools we have available to us, we need somebody who understands it, has interest in it, can communicate it and who can teach it.” Mozeliak said.
Pitching has been the bedrock of the Cardinals’ recent success. The front office has excelled at scouting, drafting, and developing a steady stream of young arms, and that cost-controlled talent has afforded them a competitive advantage over the last eight seasons.
As the landscape of baseball shifts, the Cardinals must shift with it to maintain that edge. That requires a more modern approach, which the team felt Lilliquist was not a good fit for.
The team will evaluate both internal and external candidates for the role. One clear candidate for the job is Triple-A pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd, who oversaw a Memphis staff that led the Pacific Coast League in ERA (3.77) by half a run and managed to juggle ever-changing personnel as the Cardinals shuffled arms back and forth all season.
Mozeliak has historically promoted from within the organization but said this decision will require careful evaluation and time.
“This is a unique spot. We have to get this right,” he said.
All other coaches are expected to return for 2018.