Caleb Cotham ‘inspired’ to join Phillies as pitching coach

Caleb Cotham is excited to join the Phillies as pitching coach

New Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Caleb Cotham spent the last two seasons as the assistant pitching coach of the Cincinnati Reds. Less than a half-decade prior, the Tennessee native was a major-league pitcher, logging 35 career appearances out of the bullpen between the New York Yankees (2015) and Reds (2016).

“You can feel, every person you talk to, how excited they are to be a part of the Phillies. That’s very inspiring to me,” said Cotham, who added that his first task in his new role will be relationship-building and “getting to know the human first.”

Among the things Cotham is most intrigued about the Phillies is that they have three starting pitchers — Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin — who “could go out and be Cy Young [Award winners].” He wants to get to know and learn from them, as well as “listen and pick their brains on how they see this game.”

“[I want to know] what is that one percent, that one little thing that they want to take the next step with,” the 33-year-old continued. “For me, it really comes down to serving the player and finding something with how they see it to help them get better, [rather than] me being right or ‘hey, we have to use this or that.'”

“I think there’s just so many levers and options now in our toolkit as coaches to maximize your strengths and search for that one percent, because it could be something off the field; it could be something how you prepare and plan,” Cotham said. “That’s the [most fun] part for me — answering that riddle, getting to know those players, and what they want.”

Phillies skipper Joe Girardi managed Cotham during his rookie season in the Bronx; the 2009 World Series champion told reporters on Friday that he had a “big say” in the hire and is excited to have him on his coaching staff.

“We have a young pitching coach with a ton of knowledge that understands what it’s like to be on that rubber all by yourself and to go through good times and bad times,” Girardi told reporters on Friday. “[Caleb] understands all the new stuff and understands all the old stuff. He has the chance to be here for a very long time because of his age. That’s what we’re looking for, stability.”

When asked how he plans to address the Phillies bullpen, which had one of the all-time worst ERAs this past season, Cotham said he wants to first get to know some of those relievers before making any decisions. “I know how [the 2020 season] went for them,” Cotham said. “It was a really weird year. There was a huge component of a lot of things major league players never had to deal with.”

Looking ahead, the data-driven Cotham describes his excitement level as “massive.”

“I want to be prepared as a coach to service them and honor who they are, but also have the toolkit and myself to be ready for those conversations,” he said.

Less than 100 days remain until Cotham and the Phillies’ currently scheduled Grapefruit League opener at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.