Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie’s occasionally lethal pitching staff

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 23: Pitching coach Dana LeVangie visits Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 23: Pitching coach Dana LeVangie visits Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game One of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

We often talk about the men on the baseball field. But what about the men behind the scenes? Who is the Red Sox pitching coach? What has Dana LeVangie done?

Pitching coach Dana LeVangie has spent 29 seasons in professional baseball as a Red Sox lifer. LeVangie was born on August 11, 1969, in Whitman, MA. The 49-year-old catcher was drafted by the Red Sox in the 1991 draft.

LeVangie was drafted from American International University in Springfield, MA. He played for 6 seasons in A+, AA, and AAA. He’s spent time as a bullpen catcher, advance scout, bullpen coach, and since 2018 he’s been the Red Sox pitching coach.

The Red Sox currently are in 3rd place in the AL East. Red Sox pitchers have a combined 4.81 ERA and 1.382 WHIP. The average age of the pitchers is 29.2. In 2018, the World Series championship team had a combined 3.75 ERA and 1.246 WHIP, with the average age being 28.9.

In 2017, before Dana LeVangie took the role of the pitching coach, the Sox had a combined 3.70 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP. The pitchers’ average age was 28.4.

What was his background? LeVangie first played baseball at 4Cs University before getting a scholarship at American International University. His decision to tryout as the catcher was based on an opportunity that he saw to get playing time.

LeVangie credits the position for helping him develop transferrable skills off the field that he uses today, it made him a better communicator. In the role, he was able to better understand the whole game.

A pitching coach uses video technology to teach pitching mechanics, pitch selection, preparation, and insights into the weaknesses and trends of hitters. Pitching coaches work with pitchers to improve performance by adjusting arm angle, rubber placement, and pitch selections.

LeVangie must stay up-to-date with the constant changes in the landscape. He needs to act quickly and implement needed developments as they come up. There are many plans used to help increase the durability and velocity of pitchers.

How did a man who never professionally pitched a game wind up as the pitching coach? When Cora arrived in Boston, he offered LeVangie a promotion as bench coach. The position was declined. LeVangie felt that the biggest impact he could make was in working as a bullpen coach with the pitchers.

At the time the Red Sox also had a hole and a need for a pitching coach. The Red Sox players rallied behind LeVangie. Pitchers made it clear that they wanted LeVangie to be named their new pitching coach. Heath Hembree seconded that by saying,

"“Everybody was like, ‘We need this guy as a pitching coach. We knew him being a bullpen coach was limiting what he could possibly have his hands on and who would benefit from it if he could have his hands on more.”"

It speaks volumes to LeVangie’s character that his players think so highly of him, his skills, and his ability. To have an entire team of pitchers vouch for you shows the impact that he has made on the players. His players knew that he could make an even bigger impact in a new role.

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Part of the battle that coaches face is gaining the skills and experience to be able to understand the role and adjustments needed. The other part is player management. It’s important that players trust, respect, look up to, and feel comfortable listening to their coaches.

Some might see his lack of personal experience at the mound as a downfall. But what he lacks in one area he more than makes up for in other areas. He has a unique perspective from his experience behind the plate as well as his planning abilities gleaned as an advance scout.

He’s able to use his background as a scout to dissect players, their weaknesses, and how to use it against them. As Rick Porcello explained,

"“He’s an emotional leader. He’s an intellectual leader. He’ll do anything for you,” said Porcello. “As far as coaches go, you think back to your days in school, a teacher you loved, he checks every box that makes a person memorable and special to you.”"

What exactly is LeVangie’s approach during a mound visit? MLB only allows 30 seconds for a mound visit. It’s about getting to the pitcher, relaying a specific message (often while eating your hand to avoid verbal detection) and quickly returning to the dugout. A coach makes a visit when something isn’t going right. Either the coach and the pitcher/catcher tandem aren’t on the same page or something specific about a hitter needs to be discussed.

Dana LeVangie will be joining Mark Belanger, Mike Laga, Candy Cummings, Karl Oliveira, Jim Jachym, and Justine Siegal in Western Mass. Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. During his final season, he had a .473 BA, 12 HRs, and 87 RBIs.

The Red Sox pitchers have struggled this season. Is LeVangie to blame? Is it just a weird year for players that are expected to perform better? If things don’t turn around this season, someone will probably be on the line for the lackluster performance.

Next. Chris Sale reaches 200 strikeouts for 7th consecutive season. dark

LeVangie is well-liked by players (never a good thing when heads are going to roll) while making a significant contribution to the Red Sox for 29 seasons. I’d like to see Dana LeVangie sporting red and white in Boston for the rest of his career. He has heart, he brings a unique perspective and he has an interesting backstory that just makes you want to cheer for him.