After a year in which the Red Sox’ pitching staff struggled because of underperformance and injuries, the team announced that pitching coach Dana LeVangie will not return in that role for 2020.
LeVangie and advance scouting manager Steve Langone have accepted positions with the Red Sox as pro scouts.
Brian Bannister will no longer be the assistant pitching coach but will remain vice president of pitching development and focus on the minor leagues, according to the team.
LeVangie just finished his 29th season in the Red Sox organization. He has been a part of all four World Series titles this century, as bullpen catcher (2004), advance scout (2007), bullpen coach (2013), and pitching coach (2018).
LeVangie’s credentials as a pitching coach were atypical because he was never a pitcher; nevertheless, he found success in the role with the Sox. He advocated for the Sox to trade for Nathan Eovaldi last season, and when they did acquire Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays, LeVangie was instrumental in his development. He changed where Eovaldi stood on the pitching rubber, moving him from the (extreme) third base side a few inches toward the middle. The altered pitch lanes were a huge reason Eovaldi had such October success.
LeVangie did the same with David Price last season. Price had been on the third base side of the rubber, and LeVangie moved him to the first base side, in addition to overhauling his pitch usage.
Rick Porcello has called LeVangie the heart and soul of the pitching staff.
Last season, Porcello said that before LeVangie was hired as pitching coach, “a lot of us were upset he was in the bullpen because he’s such an asset and resource to the entire pitching staff and coaching staff. We wanted him in the dugout.”
Said reliever Matt Barnes: “His understanding of the game, how to attack hitters, is second to none. He knows everybody from every team that’s ever played. It’s unbelievable.”
In his second year as pitching coach in 2019, the season didn’t go as planned. The pitching staff posted a 4.70 ERA, and the main struggles came from the starters, who posted a 4.95 ERA. The Red Sox had to use the “bullpen game” approach in August once Chris Sale and Price went to the injured list.
When Sale pitched this year, he often struggled. The team attributed it to mechanical issues, which they never figured out. That, of course, falls on LeVangie.
In 147⅓ innings, Sale posted a 4.40 ERA and surrendered 24 homers.
LeVangie is a Whitman native, and his Massachusetts roots run deep. He attended Whitman-Hanson Regional High School before attending Cape Cod Community College and American International College in Springfield.
The Red Sox selected him as a catcher in the 14th round of the 1991 draft. He played six seasons in the organization, batting .196 with seven homers.
LeVangie and assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett are the first two coaches on manager Alex Cora’s staff to be reassigned or let go.
Bannister joined the Red Sox in January 2015 as a scout and has held the roles of vice president of pitching development and assistant pitching coach since November 2016. He was drafted by the team in 2002 but made his major league debut with the Mets in 2006.
“Bannister called his time on the staff “a sincere privilege . . . for arguably the greatest multiyear run in Red Sox history.
“Since being added from the development side in July of 2016, I have only been able to fulfill my dream of winning a world championship with the Red Sox apart from my family in California because of the sacrifices of my amazing wife and kids.
“I look forward to impacting the Red Sox organization once again full-time on the data-driven development side while restoring some of the work/life balance on the personal side of things.”
Alex Speier contributed reporting. Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @byjulianmack.