The 2014 season marks Roger McDowell's ninth with the Braves and his ninth as a Major
League pitching coach.
Under McDowell's leadership, the Braves have seen their staff ERA drop each season since 2008, ranking in the top five in all of Major League Baseball each year season 2009. Over the last three seasons (2011-13), Atlanta's relievers have posted a combined 2.76 ERA (best in the Majors) and a .226 opponents batting average (third in the Majors) while tying for the fewest home runs allowed among all Major League bullpens in that stretch, with just 103.
In 2013, the Braves led the majors with a 3.18 staff ERA, including an MLB-best 2.46 ERA by the bullpen, and ranked second by allowing just 2.54 walks per nine innings pitched. Atlanta ranked sixth overall (fourth in the National League) with a .244 opponents batting average.
In 2012, closer Craig Kimbrel posted a historic season, as he converted 42-of-45 save opportunities while posting an ERA of 1.01 with 116 strikeouts and only 27 hits allowed in 62.2 innings pitched. Kimbrel's 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings ranked as the highest in major league history for any pitcher with at least 60 IP. He posted a .126 opponents batting average, the lowest since 1900, and retired 50 percent (116-of-231) of his hitters via strikeout, the best ratio in the live-ball era.
McDowell guided Atlanta's staff through an especially challenging season in 2011, as the Braves played an Atlanta-era record 26 extra-inning games. The staff logged 54 extra innings on the year, equal to an additional six games on the schedule. The Braves played 84 games which were decided by just one or two runs and through it all they maintained the fourth-best team ERA in the majors, at 3.48. Atlanta's bullpen led the majors with a 3.02 ERA. The team established a franchise mark in innings pitched (1,479.2) and its 1,332 strikeouts set a team record (fifth in major league history). Kimbrel registered an amazing season and was honored with the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA. Kimbrel garnered 127 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched (79 games) and posted a 2.10 ERA while shattering the MLB rookie saves record with 46. Reliever Eric O'Flaherty appeared in 78 games and posted an ERA of 0.98 - a Major League record for a pitcher with at least 75 appearances in a season. Jonny Venters led the majors with 85 appearances and had a 1.84 ERA.
In 2010, the Braves' overall staff ERA (3.56) ranked third in the majors. Braves pitchers allowed an MLB-low 126 home runs, including just 92 allowed by the starters (tied for fifth in the majors) and just 34 allowed by the relievers (third in the majors). Tim Hudson returned from "Tommy John" surgery and paced the staff with a 17-9 record and a 2.83 ERA to earn the Comeback Player of the Year Award from Major League Baseball. Another bright spot was rookie left-hander Jonny Venters, who pitched in 79 games and posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83.0 innings pitched.
The Braves' pitching staff ERA of 3.57 ranked third in the majors in 2009, while the starters' ERA of 3.52 led the majors. Braves pitchers allowed an MLB-low 119 home runs, including just 86 allowed by the starters (third in the majors) and 33 allowed by the relievers (best in the majors). Braves starting pitchers ranked second overall with 986 innings pitched (compared to just 886 in 2008 - 27th in the majors) and recorded 784 strikeouts, the fourth-best total in the majors. The Braves staff ranked sixth in all of baseball with 1,232 total strikeouts in 2009. Some individual highlights in 2009 included Jair Jurrjens (2.60) and Javier Vazquez (2.87) finishing third and sixth, respectively, among National League ERA leaders. Rookie Tommy Hanson made his debut in June and posted an 11-4 record and a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts. He finished third in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting and Vazquez ranked second in the N.L. (and fourth in the majors) with 238 strikeouts.
In 2008 the Braves ranked second in the N.L. in earned run average (3.69) at the All-Star break, but injuries took their toll in the second half of the season and Atlanta dipped to 12th in the circuit with an overall ERA of 4.46. The 2007 Braves finished third in the league in ERA (4.11), while the bullpen ERA of 3.54 ranked second in the circuit.
McDowell spent the 2004-05 seasons as the pitching coach for the Dodgers' Triple-A franchise, the Las Vegas 51s, and was the pitching coach for the Class-A South Georgia Waves in 2002-03.
McDowell was one of the game's premier relievers during a 12-year career that spanned from 1985 to 1996 with the Mets, Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers and Orioles. He was a third-round draft pick of the Mets in 1982 and pitched in 723 games in his Major League career, posting a 70-70 record with 159 saves and a 3.30 ERA. In 1986, he was a member of the Mets' World Championship team and posted a 14-9 record with 22 saves in 75 games out of the bullpen.
McDowell graduated from Cincinnati's Colerain High School in 1979 and played for Bowling Green State University. He was inducted into BGSU's athletic Hall of Fame in 1988. He has made television appearances on Seinfeld, America's Funniest People and MTV.
McDowell and his wife Gloria reside in Marietta, Ga., with their daughters Amanda and Rachel. Roger also has a son, Logan.