The Cincinnati Reds have gotten around to naming the first member of the coaching staff for 2019 beyond manager David Bell. And they did so with a coup. Derek Johnson will be taking over as the Cincinnati Reds pitching coach. He was the Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach in 2018, as well as the previous two seasons.

Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the news. The move has been confirmed by several reporters since, but has not been confirmed officially by the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson is the second coach to be plucked away from the Brewers already this offseason after the team surprisingly won the National League Central.

Derek Johnson has been a longtime coach. Starting in 1994 he coached at Eastern Illinois before moving on to both Southern Illinois and Stetson University. In 2002 he joined Vanderbilt as the pitching coach for 11 years. In his time with Vanderbilt he coached 13 future big leaguers, including three former Reds: Caleb Cotham, Drew Hayes, and Nick Chrstiani. He also coached several first round draft picks, including Sonny Gray, Mike Minor and David Price.

In the Major Leagues with the Brewers his team ERA+ has ranked 4th (110 ERA+, 2018), 6th (110 ERA+, 2017), and 6th (105 ERA+, 2016) in the National League. Each year the staff was above-average in terms of run prevention. That’s a stark contrast to where the Cincinnati Reds have ranked, finishing near the bottom each year with ERA+ numbers of 91 (2018) and 87 twice. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the table for the Reds and what kind of changes can be made.

24 Responses

    • MuddyCleats

      Finally, a move that makes really good sense. Here’s hoping he has some influence over who they draft & how they r developed n minors

    • Krozley

      I think Gray would be make an excellent target given the Vanderbilt relationship. Casali was Gray’s catcher at Vandy as well. Somehow a swap that includes Bailey and others for Gray and Ellsbury (contract swap that lowers the quality of players from the Reds).

  1. SteveLV

    Seems like a very good hire, but also seems surprising that he would make a lateral move from the Brewers to the Reds. Any idea why?

    • Keith

      I’m guessing it’s monetary. Reds must have opened up the checkbook.

    • STEVEN

      I like the hire also. I have a feeling that Mike Matheny will end up being the bench coach.

    • IndyRedsFan

      Milwaukee beat writer, Adam McCalvy tweeted the following……….

      “David Stearns confirms @Ken_Rosenthal report that highly regarded pitching coach Derek Johnson is leaving the Brewers. Said they had “extensive” negotiations to keep him.”

      Given that, I’m guessing his reason for switching is one of the following…

      1) The Reds came thru with the big bucks,
      2) He is into the challenge of fixing the Reds pitching
      3) He disagrees with the way the Brewers have been using their pitchers.

      • MuddyCleats

        Graduated HS in Illinois, finished college there & started his coaching career there as well. 11 yrs @ Vandy; still calls Nashville home. All that, warmer weather & a raise probably made Cincy an easy choice

  2. Redsvol

    This is a coup. It is amazing what the Brewers have done lately without big $ free agents. Regardless of $, guy must love a challenge because solving the Reds starting pitching woes is the ultimate challenge. Lets hope they do what this guy says. Have to hope this is sign that Bell has developed some good relationships over the years that allows him to recruit good coaches and players.

  3. donny

    Cincinnati hires Hendricks as international scouting director

    • Doug Gray

      I’ll have something more on this Thursday afternoon. Wanted to have a more detailed post on this one since it’s more minor league related.

    • terry m

      Good hire ! From the Texas org who have been very active in this area. Their are 2 parts. You have to find them AND you need to sign them !!! All in all a positive hire..

  4. Andy B

    Scott Moss was 15-4 with a 3.68 ERA and didn’t make the top 20. I don’t see Vladimir Gutierrez either and he’s definitely a pitcher to watch also.

  5. Norwood Nate

    Seems like a good hire, and what he’s done with a relatively unheralded staff speaks for itself. I like being able to poach a valued employee from a division rival.

    • jim t

      My thoughts exactly Nate. Also nice seeing the reds hire someone who can address a huge problem. Pitching!!! Now go get some guys he can work with.

      • MuddyCleats

        Ditto! His motto is, “be great @ what your good at.” That means they better have something to work w/ before he gets them. Exactly why he needs voice n who they draft!

  6. cinvenfan

    Excellent move. Call me crazy, but I’d like to see what Johnson can do for guys like Stephenson, Mahle, Reed, Romano, Castillo, Disco, Finnegan and even Bailey before committing big bucks and years to a Gio Gonzalez or Harvey kind of pitcher.

    • GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

      Bailey is done, even if Jesus is his pitching coach.

      Finnegan’s shoulder can’t be coached to be sturdier.

      Stephenson’s apparent refusal to accept coaching from anyone over the last 5-6 years makes me want them to just cut their losses.

      Cody Reed looks like a future LOOGY: .299/.386/.520 vs RHs, .240/.309/.350 vs LHs.. 6.89 ERA as a starter, 1.98 ERA as a reliever.

      Romano looks destined for middle relief so he can avoid facing batters a second time in a game, in which matchups he’s allowed a .297/.336/.559 line against him. He doesn’t miss enough bats to be a back-end relief pitcher.

      – – – – – – – – – – – –

      If they go into the season with the pitchers you just listed, it is going to be a long brutal season with about 2000 fans per game and another 90+ losses.

      Why spend big bucks and steal away a good pitching coach only to then give him nothing to work with?

      Keep the insults to yourself. You can disagree without them, I promise.

      • GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

        It wasn’t an insult Doug, their post literally said “Call me crazy”. That’s like a 50 year old lame joke, sure, but not an insult.

  7. redlegs4ever

    Now if Bryan Price replaces him in Milwaukee which from what I hear is a possibility then this is a win/win/win.