The Los Angeles Dodgers set a franchise record with 106 regular-season wins in 2019, but they fell short of their ultimate goal of winning the World Series when they were defeated by the Washington Nationals in five games in the National League Division Series.
One of the reasons that the Dodgers were able to achieve so much success throughout the year was because of their pitching staff, which was among the best in the league. That has been the case most years for the Dodgers, and a lot of that can be attributed to the work of pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
Honeycutt has been the pitching coach of the Dodgers for the last 14 seasons, but 2019 was especially difficult for the 65-year-old as he underwent significant back surgery just before the start of Spring Training.
It appears that Honeycutt does not want to go through the grind and travel of a 162-game season again as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman announced that he will be transitioning into a special assistant role in 2020 and Mark Prior will likely take over as pitching coach.
“Rick Honeycutt is going to transition into a special assistant role. Obviously he’s meant a lot to this organization for a long time and he still will going forward,” Friedman said during his end of season press conference at Dodger Stadium.
“It’ll just be in a slightly different role that we’re still kind of working out the details on. Fortunately we’ve been able to have Mark Prior around and have him build up relationships, so my assumption is he will slide into that. Those specific things haven’t been worked out yet.”
This does not come as much of a surprise as the writing was on the wall pretty much all season considering Honeycutt’s health.
Prior has never been a big-league pitching coach but he is inheriting a staff that includes Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Joe Kelly, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez and plenty of other talented arms.
Prior spent the 2019 season as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, so he is already familiar with all of these players and their pitching mechanics, making him a viable replacement for Honeycutt.