Red Sox: Pitching coach Carl Willis joins Cleveland Indians coaching staff

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Carl Willis
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30: Carl Willis /

Carl Willis becomes the first coach from former Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell’s staff to leave after being hired by the Cleveland Indians.

The Boston Red Sox will need to find a new pitching coach now that the Cleveland Indians have hired Carl Willis to take over the position on their staff.

Willis will take over the pitching coach role from Mickey Calloway, who was recently hired to be the new manager of the New York Mets.

Willis served as pitching coach for the Red Sox for the last two and a half seasons. Boston’s pitching staff ranked second in the American League with a collective 3.70 ERA this year and fourth with a 4.00 ERA in 2016. The Red Sox staff boasted a Cy Young winner last year in Rick Porcello and have a strong candidate this year in Chris Sale.

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In Cleveland, Willis will have the opportunity to oversee the only pitching staff in the league that has performed better than Boston’s over the last two seasons. The Indians have a strong Cy Young candidate of their own in Corey Kluber. The rotation also includes several young, quality arms in Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar, plus a lights-out bullpen led by Andrew Miller.  You would be hard-pressed to find a better situation for a pitching coach to land in.

This will be a return to Cleveland for Willis, who previously worked for the organization from 2003-2009. He’ll serve on the staff of Indians manager Terry Francona, who held that position with the Red Sox from 2004-2011. Tito and Willis never overlapped in Cleveland or Boston, yet it’s interesting that Francona selected a pitching coach with ties to the Red Sox.

There were some who believed that Francona would turn to his old friend John Farrell, who was his pitching coach in Boston and was recently fired as manager of the Red Sox. Farrell is presumably holding out for a manager position elsewhere. While it was clearly time for the Red Sox to part ways with him, Farrell does have a World Series ring and consecutive division titles under his belt. He should be able to find a job with a veteran team.

Willis is the first coach from Farrell’s staff to leave Boston, although it’s assumed that most – if not all – will soon follow him out the door. Alex Cora will be announced as the next Red Sox manager after the World Series, at which point he’ll be free to build his own coaching staff. While Cora could retain some of the current staff, the Red Sox have encouraged their coaches to explore other options.

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We’ll have a better idea about who stays and who goes, as well as who replaces Willis, after Cora officially joins the team. At the moment, he’s a bit busy serving as the bench coach for the Houston Astros in the World Series. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks.