The Runner Sports

Neil Allen No Longer Twins’ Pitching Coach

In a piece of news that was overshadowed by the retention of Paul Molitor, Twins’ pitching coach Neil Allen has been let go.

This news probably didn’t catch your eye as a Twins fan, and that’s for obvious reasons. Pitching coaches are never as noteworthy as managers, and Paul Molitor is a local product who has been well known in the Twin Cities for decades now. Neil Allen, as far as most Twins fans were concerned, was just some guy.

Sadly, the biggest memory of Allen’s time with the Twins was his suspension following a DWI arrest in the middle of the disastrous 2016 campaign. Hopefully, Allen has recovered, health-wise, from that incident and it has nothing to do with his loss of a job.

Perhaps the biggest reason that Neil Allen will not be remembered, and was never really cared about by fans, was the performance of the pitching staff he oversaw.

Allen was the pitching coach for the Twins for three seasons, entering when Molitor took over in 2015. In all three of those seasons, the expectations for the pitching staff were meager, and they never outperformed them. In his three years, the Twins finished 19th, 29th, and 19th in ERA in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively, and 26th in those three years combined. That’s two not-terrible years, and one awful one amounting to a bad three-year stretch.

But it wasn’t all his fault. He was given both old and unproven pitchers for his rotation in all those years, and his rotation lacked the velocity that pretty much every other team had at the end of their games. The two biggest outside additions to his staff, while he was employed, was Bartolo Colón (older than what he already had) and Jaime García (who was there for a week), so it never felt the organization gave him much of a chance to succeed.

It is also unfortunate that Allen’s firing ignores the improvement the team did see in 2017. José Berríos showed that he could be an ace someday. Ervin Santana sat toward the top of the American League in ERA, wins, and innings pitched all season long. And the bullpen had the 26th best ERA in the league in the first half, but the 12th best in the second. That’s an improvement in three major components of the Twins’ pitching staff, but it wasn’t enough to keep him employed.

All told, Neil Allen did not have a glamorous time with the Twins, but it was not actually as bad as it felt.

Regardless, the Twins are moving forward, looking for a new pitching coach. I can’t say I have my finger on the pulse of the pitching coach market, so I won’t bother projecting who is going to fill Allen’s shoes.

I will say that the new pitching coach is going to need to know how to handle young pitchers. If the Twins are going to make a deeper run in the postseason than they did this year, they will need more out of their young arms. Berríos will need to continue climbing, and prospects on the verge like Adalberto Mejia, Aaron Slegers, and Stephen Gonsalves will likely be asked to fill important roles in the rotation or the bullpen.

Beyond that, the new pitching coach will also need to coax more strikeouts from the Twins’ pitchers. This likely won’t entail making the current arms throw harder than they do, so the new coach will need to work with the pitchers and catchers on good strategies for mixing pitches and getting better movement out of the pitches they have.

That’s a tall order, but 2017 gives hope that it won’t be as challenging as previously thought.

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer is a lifelong Twins fan who spends most nights dreaming of learning a knuckleball and pitching them to a World Series victory.
Charlie Gillmer

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