According to D1 Baseball, LSU has hired Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson for the same position at LSU. Johnson will remain with the Twins through this week’s games against Cleveland, after which assistant coach Pete Maki will take over pitching coach duties.
Wes Johnson has been with the Twins since 2019 when Rocco Baldelli hired him out of the University of Arkansas. At the time, hiring Johnson was seen as a reach, as not many people have made the jump directly from college coaching to pro ball. However, he has garnered a lot of respect around the league for his modernized approach to pitching.
Johnson’s professional background has been largely in college baseball, so his return to the college stage is not all that surprising, but it happening in the middle of the season is more of a shock. For Johnson, his return to the college game, and a program as well funded as LSU, provides a unique opportunity to get paid a similar amount (or more) while having a much shorter season. The appeal is readily apparent.
The Twins, on the other hand, find themselves in more of a bind. In the midst of a division race, replacing your pitching coach is not ideal. Without knowing the day-to-day details or clubhouse dynamics, it’s difficult to say how much of an impact this will have on the team. Bullpen coach Pete Maki will take the reigns for the time being, but according to Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic, it will be a group effort.
The Twins are back in sole possession of first place with a two game lead over the Cleveland Guardians. The upcoming five games will be critical to keep the positive momentum going, and for establishing the new hierarchy in the Twins’ pitching room.