Dodgers: Look back at Rick Honeycutt’s impressive run as pitching coach

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 17: Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt
PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 17: Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt /

With news that pitching coach Rick Honeycutt is moving up to a special assistant role, it’s time to take a look back at his stellar run.

One of the biggest pieces of news to come from Andrew Friedman’s end of the season presser, was that Rick Honeycutt would no longer be the Dodger’s pitching coach heading into the 2020 season.  Mark Prior is expected to take over the role and Honeycutt will move up into a special assistant role in the front office.

Rick spent the last 14 years as the Dodger pitching coach after being an assistant with the club prior to that. He has been with the team long enough that his first season with the blue, back in 2006, the rotation did not have Clayton Kershaw.  The rotation featured Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Aaron Sele, Chad Billingsley, and Mark Hendrickson before Greg Maddux was added.

Like many of the Dodger pitching staffs under Honeycutt, that rotation exceeded their talent level and Lowe and Penny both won 16 games.  Overall, the 2006 team had an ERA of 4.23 which ranked eighth-best in Major League Baseball.  Here are where the Dodger club’s under Honeycutt finished in MLB team ERA during his tenure:

2006 – 4.23 ERA (8th)  2007 – 4.20 ERA (10th)

2008 – 3.68 ERA (2nd)  2009 – 3.41 ERA (1st)

2010 – 4.01 ERA (13th)  2011 – 3.54 ERA (5th)

2012 – 3.34 ERA (3rd)  2013 – 3.25 ERA (2nd)

2014 – 3.40 ERA (6th)  2015 – 3.44ERA (5th)

2016 – 3.70 ERA (5th)  2017 – 3.38 ERA (2nd)

2018 – 3.38 ERA (2nd)  2019 – 3.37 ERA (1st)

As you can see, Honeycutt had a pretty impressive run during his time in Los Angeles.  Particularly since 2011, when the Dodgers have been top five or better in team ERA for nearly every season and the one time they weren’t they ranked sixth in MLB in 2014.  Not all of Honeycutt’s rotations featured the talent that it has in recent seasons.

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Rick had a tendency for getting the most out of his pitching staff like in 2009 when he helped Randy Wolf win 11 games and post an ERA of 3.23.  Then there was 2012 when veterans Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang pitched excellent in LA and pitched to an ERA of 3.72 and 3.61.  Maybe you remember Josh Beckett’s no-hitter in 2014 and his solid season in which he posted an ERA of 2.88.

Rick Honeycutt’s pitching coach talents extended to all parts of the Dodger pitching staff.  For every John Ely (Ely-Mania!) or Josh Beckett reclamation project in the rotation, he also helped engineer several successful relief pitcher projects like Brandon Morrow, Joe Blanton, and Ronald Belisario who looked unhittable at times before his own personal troubles.

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Mark Prior has a genius pitching mind in his own right, but the work that Rick Honeycutt did and the run he had in Los Angeles was truly remarkable.  While the Dodgers tend to have their usual financial might, he helped get every bit of success and more out of Dodger pitchers over the year.  Hopefully, his excellent work will continue as a special assistant with the Dodgers’ front office.