Aaron Nola is no techie, but he likes new-school pitching coach just the same


Aaron Nola is working with his fifth pitching coach in five years. 

Former Cincinnati Reds assistant pitching coach Caleb Cotham is the new guy. He replaced Bryan Price, who retired in the middle of a three-year contract in October. 

Price brought an old-school, traditional approach to directing and instructing pitchers and he forged a solid bond with Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin, the Phillies’ top three starting pitchers, in 2020.

Cotham brings new-school science, data and technology to the old art form of pitching. 

Though Nola is an old schooler, he’s built a good early bond with Cotham.

“I’m not really big on the technology, I never have been,” Nola said. “Caleb is willing to work with guys who like that, and he’s willing to work with guys who don’t like that, and I really respect that. I think he knows a lot about pitching and that’s what it’s all about for myself — get the outs, establish all your pitches and go from there. 

"I’ve never been big on (technology) and I don’t plan to change too much of that, but I’m definitely looking forward to working more with him. As camp goes on and we have our side sessions, that’s how you really get to know each other.

“He’s a good guy. He wants to learn and so do I.”

Manager Joe Girardi was the lead force in the hiring of Cotham, 33. From the time Price departed, Girardi made it clear he wanted someone with, among other qualities, an understanding of analytics and technology in the job. 

But Girardi understands technology is not for everyone and if Nola shuns it, that’s OK.

“I don’t think it’s odd for (pitchers) who have been around a while not to use it,” Girardi said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t use it. Aaron may not use it and I’m OK with that. He does a lot of homework himself, evaluates himself and how to get hitters out with his stuff. I think he goes a lot by feel and there are players like that and I’m OK with that. I don’t want to force anything down anyone’s throat and you want a player to feel comfortable when he goes out there. But whatever tools we can use to help him, we’ll use.”

More than ever, it’s a balancing act for coaches. There’s so much fascinating technology in the game today, but having a feel for the student and what makes him tick is still as important as ever.

“Coaches have to know their players,” Girardi said. “Every player learns and receives information differently. Sometimes it can be too much for a player, sometimes you can’t give them enough. And you have to know that, too, because you don’t want too much information to freeze them up, so you really have to know your player.”

Check out the Phillies' full spring training TV schedule

Subscribe to the Phillies Talk podcastApple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Contact Us