Maroth promoted to pitching coach at Toledo
The last time Mike Maroth took the mound at Triple-A Toledo, he was still trying to work his way back into the Tigers rotation. That was in 2006, after he underwent surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow earlier that year.
He missed out on the Tigers postseason run that fall, and his Detroit tenure ended the next summer. When he walks to that same mound at Fifth Third Field next spring, he’ll be playing a quietly important part towards trying to get the Tigers back to the World Series — as a coach.
After three seasons close to home as the pitching coach at Class A Lakeland, Maroth is moving up to take the same post with the Mud Hens. It’s a promotion that puts Maroth in line to take the underappreciated challenge of handling pitching prospects on their last step before the Majors as well as struggling pitchers sent down from Detroit to work on issues.
The promotion became official this week.
The Tigers have not yet announced their full minor-league staff, pending some final decisions. Detroit also has a big-league coaching opening for assistant hitting coach, which could factor into that as the Tigers consider internal candidates alongside others from outside the organization.
Maroth replaces former Major League pitcher Al Nipper. Nipper spent one year with the Hens after his predecessor, former Tigers pitcher and University of Toledo product A.J. Sager, took over as Tigers minor-league pitching coordinator.
Maroth spent parts of three seasons at Toledo, making 48 starts there. He arrived in 2001 as a 23-year-old pitching prospect who had lost 14 games the previous year at Double-A Jacksonville. He went 7-10 with a 4.65 ERA in his first year with the Hens, then made the learning curve to rule the International League the next year.
Maroth went 8-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 11 starts for Toledo in 2002, essentially forcing his way into the struggling Tigers rotation. He lost 21 games the next year on Detroit’s record-setting 119-loss team, but his quiet composure and dignity set the tone for a club whose struggles put it in the national spotlight by year’s end. Maroth went 14-14 two years later.
He never had overpowering stuff as a pitcher, armed with a fastball that rarely hit 90 mph, but he lasted six years in the Majors on his ability to mix pitches and keep hitters off-balance. His pitching knowhow served him well in Lakeland, where he worked with several Tigers prospects on their way up. Among his former pupils to reach the big leagues are Bruce Rondon, Jacob Turner, Kyle Ryan, Drew VerHagen, Melvin Mercedes, Brian Flynn. In addition, Maroth coached Jake Thompson en route to his Futures Game selection this past summer before the Tigers traded him to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal.