According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is taking a leave of absence from the team to be with his wife, who underwent surgery in August of last year to remove a brain tumor.
“As far as how long he’ll be gone, no one knows,” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Thursday night.
The Cardinals’ front office is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday morning, with more details on the matter and perhaps some news about a temporary replacement.
Duncan is widely regarded as the best pitching coach in Major League Baseball. He worked alongside recently-retired manager Tony La Russa for 28 seasons with three different organizations.
UPDATE, 9:24 PM: Two St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters, Joe Strauss and Bernie Miklasz, are hearing that Duncan is stepping down from his job for good, not taking a leave of absence.
UPDATE, 9:29 PM: Miklasz says Duncan “will remain linked to the organization in another capacity,” and that bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist is expected to be promoted to the role of pitching coach.
UPDATE, 9:44 PM: According to MLB.com’s Matthew Leach, it is indeed being termed as a “leave of absence” by the Cardinals, who have released a short statement:
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.