The Detroit Tigers coaching staff lost a key member on Monday, when Jeff Jones, who has been pitching coach since July 2011, retired. This ends the Michigan native’s 38 year baseball career.
Jones was originally hired under Jim Leyland as the bullpen coach after 2006, his fifth stint in that role before his 2011 promotion. Brad Ausmus kept Jones when Leyland retired because of the amazing job Jones had done as pitching coach. He also coached many years as a pitching coach in the Tigers minor league system. Jones was drafted in 1977 by the Oakland A’s in the 13th round. He made his debut in 1980 and pitched 112 games for the A’s from 1980 to 1984, mostly in relief. His pitching career ended with a 3.95 ERA, 122 strikeouts, and 8 saves.
Jones said that he was going out on his own terms to the Detroit News on Monday. He attributed his decision to wanting to be with family and the toll the game has taken on him. He also thanked Leyland, Ausmus, and the whole Tigers organization for his opportunities. Jones was speculated to be fired after the Tigers starting pitching went from first to last in essentially a year. This, of course, could be attributed to the losses the rotation suffered and injuries more so than Jones. Jones was the pitching coach for both Justin Verlander’s and Max Scherzer’s Cy Young seasons. Scherzer actually told MLB.com reporter Jason Beck “Jonesy was awesome. He was such a good pitching coach because he could relate to me.” Jones best season was 2013 when the staff ranked fourth in baseball in starter ERA, and the Tigers starters lead the league in strikeouts, almost combining for 1,000.
The Tigers search for a new pitching coach will continue after they ranked last in the AL in starter ERA and second to last in the AL in bullpen ERA. Early candidates for the job have been rumored to be Doug Brocail, who played with Brad Ausmus and the Tigers in his career, and has been a successful minor league pitching coach, and also in house candidates A.J. Sager and Mick Billmeyer according to the Detroit Free Press. Also, Jorge Cordova could be considered as he’s fast moved up the Tigers minor league system.