Breakups are never easy.
They can be especially tough when they move on before you’ve even taken down your framed pictures, and with a former enemy.
ASU baseball fans may be feeling that pain today, as former Arizona head coach and current LSU head man Jay Johnson tabbed Jason Kelly to be his pitching coach in Baton Rouge. When the sun rose Friday morning, Kelly was still the pitching coach for the Sun Devils, at the time the only holdover from Tracy Smith’s staff.
Kelly is the final domino to fall after hitting coach Michael Earley and associate head coach Ben Greenspan followed Smith out the door in the days following his dismissal. New head coach Willie Bloomquist will bring on an entirely new coaching staff in his first season at the helm of Arizona State Baseball.
Kelly, along with Earley and Greenspan, was a player favorite during his three years at Arizona State. It looked as though Kelly would remain in Tempe, but was let go on Friday after reportedly visiting LSU to entertain becoming the Tigers new pitching coach. That visit was not made in vain, as D1 Baseball’s Kendall Rogers announced that Kelly would indeed be hired by LSU.
SOURCES: @LSUbaseball will hire Jason Kelly as its pitching coach, sources tell @d1baseball. Kelly, the 2018 @d1baseball Assistant of the Year, spent the last three seasons at Arizona State. #GeauxTigers— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) July 6, 2021
Kelly’s Sun Devil pupils put together a modest campaign in 2021, respectable when considering three of their top arms were shelved by season ending injuries before the calendar turned to March. ASU put up a 5.28 team ERA, and tossed four shutouts during the tumultuous season. Kelly is widely regarded as one of the nation’s best pitching minds, and became a college baseball household name when he guided Washington’s pitchers to a College World Series berth in 2018.
When those three pitchers went down with elbow injuries, some questions were raised about training methods and how Kelly manages a pitching staff throughout the calendar year. Those questions seem to have been put to rest as he’s moving up in the ranks, commanding the pitching staff of one of the country’s most premier programs.
Although Bloomquist has added a handful of assistants already, none have specific pitching specialty, meaning the first-year skipper still has a role to fill before his coaching staff will be complete.