Straily was born in Redlands, Calif., but he doesn't remember that.
"I grew up in Eastern Oregon," Dan said, "the little town of Pendleton. I live in Central Oregon, now."
Almost from the time Straily stepped on a high school baseball field, people have been telling him to go away.
He never listened. Even after he did not make his Springfield, Oregon high school team as a freshman. And eventually, he became the team's top pitcher.
"I've been told too many times that I didn't have what it took to be a baseball player," Straily said. But the righthander has made the long, difficult transition from an overweight, soft-tossing teenager to a successful professional pitcher.
Dan spent a year at Western Oregon after being spurned by Oregon State, but he sought a better fit. He found that fit at Marshall after playing with a couple of Thundering Herd players in a summer league.
"I really wanted to play Division I baseball," Straily said, "and nobody else would open their doors. So I got my release from Western Oregon. When I left, they told me I'd never be able to play at a high level. That motivated me."
Straily flew across the nation to Huntington, W.Va., where he walked on with the Marshall baseball team. "I'd never been east of Idaho before," he said. "I'd never even been on an airplane."
In two years in the rotation, he went 9-7, 4.28 ERA and drew the attention of the Athletics. They called Straily's name in the 24th round of the 2009 draft. (Casey Tefertiller-Baseball America-9/02-11)
Straily always has struggled with his weight, but at Marshall he packed up to 250 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame and pitched at 240 as a junior.
"I realized it was unhealthy to be that young and that overweight," Straily said. So he embarked on intense physical training program and dropped to 214 pounds. With his new physique came improved velocity.
Dan is a very hard worker. He is very coachable and a real student of the game. He is relentless in his desire to learn more. He's always asking questions, studying hitters and working on game plans.
During the offseason before 2012 spring training, Straily sold shoes at a sporting goods store in Eugene, Oregon.
In 2012, Straily claimed the overall minor league strikeout title with 190 between two levels: Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento.
In December 2012, Dan and his wife, Amanda, were married. The couple honeymooned in the Caribbean, and it was the first true vacation of Straily's life.
"I was on the beach," he said, "and really had to learn how to just relax." Straily also took up yoga, saying, "I don't know if it’s working, but my muscles aren’t tight all the time."
In the spring of 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Straily as the 6th-best prospect in the A's organization.
After the 2015 season, Straily sought help for his decreased velocity and lack of effectiveness. Upon the suggestion of Astros pitching coach Brent Strom and bullpen coach Craig Bjornson, Straily picked his "doctor." It was Kyle Boddy, a pitching doctor, if you will.
First, it was off to the biomechanics lab to analyze Straily’s delivery, and some tests to measure the movement and spin rate on his pitches. The doc came back with good news.
“I brought everything back and I said, ‘You know, your breaking ball is actually fine. I think that problem will go away if you throw 94 and sit 92,’” Boddy said. “And [Straily] said, ‘Alright, perfect.’ So we were on the same page from the get-go.”
Straily’s prescription included a new weight-lifting regiment and a revamped throwing program, featuring a steady diet of weighted balls. At the Driveline Baseball headquarters, Straily used the weighted balls for drills like the pivot pickoff throw, which helped strengthen his shoulder, reclaim lost range of motion from after the injury, and feel once again like he was getting behind the baseball when he threw off a mound.
“It really cleans up their force application,” Boddy said, when asked the benefits of the pivot pickoff drill. “They’re really good at figuring out how to transfer all of what they’re generating in the trunk and the torso into the ball in their arm. There’s often a big disconnect between the two and these drills help them feel that again by creating resistance.”
Studies conducted at Driveline have shown that when fastballs drop below 90 mph, pitch break and spin rates fall off dramatically, relative to other speeds. A pitcher who once sat 96 can lose 3 mph off a fastball and survive. A pitcher like Straily, who only ever sat 92, cannot withstand such a decline.
“The first thing you see from guys who lose velocity is that they start not throwing strikes, not because of any mechanical problem they have, but because they’re just like, ‘Oh, shit, I’m throwing 88, I don’t want to throw anywhere in the zone,'” Boddy said.
It might seem counterintuitive, but the increase in velocity could actually be the key to Straily harnessing his walks. Boddy invoked the name of Barry Zito, who consistently posted poor walk rates despite above-average command, for fear of working inside the zone too often with his mid-80s fastball. With Straily’s velocity well into the 90s again, the thought is that the same hesitation will be gone. With a little extra zip on the heater, perhaps Straily can rein in the homers. And he has—keeping the ball in the park in 2016. (August Fagerstrom - FanGraphs - April 1, 2016)
Between Opening Day and the All Star break in 2016, the appropriately-named Redlands, California pitcher went 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA over eight starts, with the Reds winning all eight. And Straily gave up two or fewer runs in all eight.
Dan's talent started to blossom at an early age, and by the time Straily was in high school, there were clear signs he could play at a higher level. To Steve Straily, Dan's father, all his son needed to do was stay focused on his big league dream.
"Honestly, I told him in high school that he's got the tools," Steve said. "He's just got to make it happen." Dan certainly made it. Straily says that his father was with him every step of his baseball journey. Steve was Dan's coach in Little League in Pendleton, Ore., and he was by his side through high school. In June 2017, at Pittsburgh, Steve drove from his home in Virginia to watch Dan pitch against the Pirates.
"My passion for baseball truly does come from my family, and from my dad," Dan said. "He played in high school, played in college and then played some independent-ball type stuff."
"Dan worked real hard and never wanted to give up," Steve said. "He's dedicated to what he does. One of the things I talked to him about early on was — you've got to give 100 percent all the time or you'll never make it. He's done that all the way through college."
Dan was born in Redlands, Calif., and the first baseball game he attended was at Dodger Stadium when he was 2 years old. Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza was his favorite player growing up, and Dan's first MLB recollections in person were at Angels games. Dan moved to Oregon when he was in elementary school, and he'd go to Seattle to watch the Mariners, especially when the Dodgers were in town.
To Steve, words can't describe his emotions when he eventually got to see his son pitch in the big leagues. Dan debuted with the A's in 2012. You don't have to remind Steve of the day or the result of facing his first batter, who was Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays. "Aug. 3, 2012," Steve said. "His first pitch was a strike. The first batter he faced was a strikeout. It was just phenomenal to see him do his thing."
Steve was a talented player in his own right growing up, playing in high school and college. He continued playing in Southern California in a men's senior league. Once, Steve's team faced Dan's squad in a scrimmage.
"He did everything he could for me in baseball," Dan said. "We had a batting cage and a pitching mound at our house, when we lived on some acreage. It was a lot of fun." (Frisaro - mlb.com - 6/15/17)
Dan said that the most important piece of advice he ever received was to be himself.
"Be yourself. Don't try to be someone else. There's a tendency to try to pitch like other guys sometimes," Straily said. "I was told (by early teammates Brandon McCarthy, Bartolo Colon and Brett Anderson) to be 'the best Dan that you can be.'
"That still holds true today. Be yourself. Not just on the field, but in the clubhouse.
"Be who you are. If you are a loud guy, be a loud guy. If you're a quiet guy, be a quiet guy. When you are most comfortable that's when you'll be able to perform and bring the best product to the field." (Jim Misudek - June, 2019 - Orioles Magazine)
Straily likes to binge-watch Survivor, or watch football on TV during the off-season. He likes both Country and Christian music.
After his baseball career, Dan would like to become a roaster and open a coffee shop with his wife.
By Dan Straily’s junior year of college, it wasn’t unthinkable that he’d wind up being selected in the 2009 draft. The right-hander had been a steady presence in Marshall’s rotation during his sophomore season, in which he’d started 15 games as a newcomer for the Thundering Herd.
While not unthinkable, considering Straily’s path to Marshall, it was somewhat remarkable. A product of the Oregon prep ranks, Straily began high school as an overweight kid glued to the bench—his freshman year was spent catching bullpens, throwing batting practice, and getting all of one at-bat. Coming into his sophomore year, he hit a growth spurt, leaned up, and slowly started to earn more time on the diamond.
Once his senior year of high school rolled around, Straily had blossomed enough on the mound to earn a few small scholarship offers, but none from schools that’d suggest he was a future big leaguer. He settled on Division 2 Western Oregon, but quickly after arrival, un-settled on Western Oregon.
“I did not realize that I signed up for 25-hour bus rides, four guys to Motel 6 hotel rooms, terrible food, no laundry—it just was not fun,” Straily said.
He got to work figuring out Plan B, which for Straily ended up being a lot better than Plan A. He followed a summer ball teammate to Huntington, West Virginia and enrolled at Marshall as a walk-on, just looking for a chance to prove himself. He showed enough during fall ball to be put on scholarship heading into the spring semester.
Straily wasn’t content with how far he’d come to that point, and that junior spring, he was angling to make his way into pro ball. During an early season series, he sought out the advice of a scout who was in attendance, asking what he needed to do to get drafted. Straily was expecting a deep, nuanced answer perhaps relating to his repertoire or game-plan on the mound. The scout instead looked at Straily’s physique, which due to a college diet was beginning to resemble a taller version of that high school freshman who was glued to the bench.
“He looked at me and goes, ‘Hey Dan, I’m going to tell you a quick little story—the kid had all the talent in the world, but he couldn’t get out of the buffet line,’” said Straily, recalling the scout’s advice.
The tip wasn’t just for his physical performance—it was for how he presented himself, and how others perceived him. Getting serious about his conditioning would show that Straily took himself and his career seriously.
He took that philosophy to heart, and was drafted by the A’s in the 12th round of the ensuing draft. Even after over 10 years in professional baseball, Straily considers his weight training and condition a crucial part of continuing his success. The kid who couldn’t see the field at a small Oregon high school as a freshman, has to this date tallied over 800 big league innings and is preparing to begin his second season with the KBO’s Lotte Giants.
On our latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ Dan Straily discusses his path from small town Oregon to the big leagues and talks about the ups and downs of his journeyman career through professional baseball. (Kyle Bandujo - Baseball America Podcast - April, 2021)
June 2009: The A's chose Straily in the 24th round, out of Marshall University in West Virginia. He signed for a bonus of $12,500, via scout Matt Ransom.
July 4, 2014: The Cubs sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A's, acquiring Straily and SS Addison Russell (the A's top prospect at the time).
January 19, 2015: The Astros sent OF Dexter Fowler to the Cubs, acquiring Straily and INF Luis Valbuena.
March 28, 2016: The Astros sent RHP Straily to the Padres in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz.
April 1, 2016: The Reds claimed Dan off waivers from the Padres. It only cost the Reds the major league minimum of $512,100.
Jan 19, 2017: The Reds traded Straily to the Miami Marlins for RHP Austin Brice, CF Isaiah White and RHP Luis Castillo.
Jan 11, 2019: Dan and the Marlins avoided arbitration, signing a one-year agreement with the Marlins for $5 million.
March 25, 2019: The Marlins released Dan.
April 5, 2019: The Orioles signed free agent Dan.
July 31, 2019: The Orioles traded Dan to the Phillies for cash.
- Dec 14, 2019 Dan signed a one-year contract worth $800K with the Lotte Giants of the KBO.
|Birth City:||Redlands, CA|
|Draft:||A's #24 - 2009 - Out of Marshall Univ. (W. Va.)|
Straily has an 89-91 mph 2-seam SINKER, a 90-95 mph 4-seam FASTBALL, a plus 83-85 mph SLIDER with good depth that gets him swings and misses, a below average 73-75 mph CURVEBALL he almost never uses anymore, and a very good 82-85 mph CHANGEUP that is a true weapon vs. lefthanded hitters with its arm-side run. (Spring, 2018)
The slider and changeup are strikeout pitches and his two best offerings. And he throws that change with the same arm action and hand speed that he has on his heater. That lethal changeup drops and glides, leaving hitters swatting at it.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 46.3% of the time; Sinker 4.6% of the time; Change 18.3%; Slider 26%; and Curve 4.7% of the time.
Dan mixes up his pitches well. He has a very good pace to his game and commands all five of his pitches. He keeps hitters off balance and uncertain where the ball will be diving.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: Fastball 49% of the time; Sinker 1.4%; Change 16.9%; Slider 29.7% and Curve 3.1% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 43.6% of the time, his Sinker 5.7%; Change 17%; Slider 32.9%; and Curve less than 1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 91 mph, Sinker 91, Change 84.1, Slider 84.3, and Curve 75.4 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 46.1% of the time, his Sinker 6.2%; Change 24.1%; Slider 20%; and Curve 3.6% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 90.9 mph, Sinker 90.8, Change 84.6, Slider 84.2, and Curve 76.7 mph.
So he now has an impressive strikeout rate because batters have trouble making contact with his stuff. (May, 2016)
His fastball plays up because he consistently locates it down in the zone with good downhill plane.
Straily's competitiveness and poise help his stuff to play up.
"In 2012, I learned the difference between throwing strikes and throwing quality strikes, and the ability to stay focused for a whole game. That's something I struggled with before. I couldn't focus for more than maybe five minutes at a time. I don't know why, but things always seemed to fall apart after the fifth inning, and to push through that wall and figure out some things really allowed everything to click and finally come together," Dan said in 2013 spring training.
In 2016, Reds manager Bryan Price said of Straily, "I really believe it is deception (that gets Dan such good results). "I really don't think hitters see him as well as they see other pitchers. His velocity is not overwhelming, but there are a lot of swings and misses on his fastball -- a lot.
"At one time he was a 4-seam pitcher or he was a 2-seam pitcher, and now he can use both. He has opened up that full arsenal to both left-handed and right-handed hitters. He is not going fastball-changeup to lefties and fastball-slider to righties.
"I don't think hitters see any of those pitches terribly well," Price continued. "My feeling is that it is difficult for hitters to see his release point, and it is difficult for them to recognize the spin on his pitches. And for a guy who throws 90, his slider comes in at 82, and there is a lot of speed differential But you get a lot of guys swinging at the slider like it is a fastball. There just is not a lot of recognition.
"And he has a changeup that has a bottoming, downward action which is also a good swing-and-miss pitch." (Hal McCoy - Reds Report - September, 2016)
Good 2016 stat: Straily’s 4.3 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, was 21st among all major league starters in 2016. Jose Fernandez had 4.2 WAR.
Bad stat: Along with Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Straily led the NL with 31 home runs allowed.
As of the start of the 2019 season, Straily had a 42-36 career record, a 4.23 ERA having allowed 121 home runs and 674 hits in 755 innings.
- 2020 Season: A year in the Korean Baseball Organization may have been all that former Oakland A’s prospect Dan Straily needed to find himself.
When last we saw Dan Straily in the majors, he was imploding with the Orioles in 2019. The former Oakland A’s prospect had become a serviceable back of the rotation option until that fateful stint in Baltimore. In just 47.2 innings, he allowed 53 runs, 52 earned, on 73 hits, including an incredible 22 homers, and 22 walks, striking out 33 batters. Even as pitching starved as Baltimore had been, they could not keep Straily on the roster.
After his disastrous 2019 season, Straily was unable to find any interest from a major league organization. Hoping to rejuvenate his career, he headed over to Korea, signing with the Lotte Giants on a one year deal worth $1 million.
That year in Korea could not have gone any better for Straily. He emerged as the Giants ace from his first start of the season, completely overpowering the KBO. Straily posted a 15-4 record with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.022 WHiP, striking out 205 batters with 51 walks in his 194.2 innings. He became just the second foreign pitcher, and the tenth in total in KBO history, to reach the 200 strikeout plateau.
Straily also used that time in Korea to learn. He learned how teammate Park Se-woong threw his curve, and fixed his grip on his changeup. His change went from being a mediocre secondary offering to a weapon, especially as he used it more frequently over the final few months of the KBO season.
That success may be enough to bring Straily back stateside once more. Chances are, the Giants would love to bring him back, especially as he brought them from the KBO basement into contention with a week left. But any potential return would likely hinge on whether or not Straily has an offer to come back stateside.
For a team looking to take a relatively low risk flyer, he could be a good fit. It is highly unlikely that he would replicate that success in the majors, but if those changes to his curve and change carry over, Straily could be a bargain. (David Hill - Oct.27, 2020)
- March 24-April 30, 2018: Dan started the season on the DL due to a right forearm inflammation.