The New York Yankees have found a replacement for Larry Rothschild at pitching coach, hiring Matt Blake to fill the position, per Jeff Passan of ESPN:
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
The New York Yankees are hiring Matt Blake as their new pitching coach, sources tell ESPN. Blake was previously a pitching coordinator with the Cleveland Indians, who continuously have churned out quality big league pitchers. He also has worked as an area scout for the Yankees.
The Yankees fired Rothschild, who had been with the team since 2011, in late October.
"Larry cares deeply about his craft and the pitchers under his tutelage, and he played a significant role in our successes over the past nine seasons," general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement regarding Rothschild's firing, per Joel Sherman and Dan Martin of the New York Post. "There's a reason why Larry has had the type of distinguished baseball career he's had, and it starts with experience and dedication that is difficult to emulate."
As Sherman and Martin noted, "the Yankees are moving more and more toward a more analytic/technological mode in developing their pitchers and preparing them for games. Rothschild was not resistant to modernity—he used the newer-age items as part of his prep work. However, he was considerably more old school than new school."
Blake, however, should have little issue implementing a "new school" approach.
Zack Meisel @ZackMeisel
The Indians promoted Matt Blake to their director of pitching development just two days ago. He’s highly regarded (obviously, since he’s now apparently the Yankees pitching coach) both at coaching and translating advanced data into terms pitchers can understand and utilize. https://t.co/jeLOXy91rh
Pitching wasn't New York's strong suit in 2019, though it would be unfair to call it a huge weakness, especially given the strength of the team's bullpen.
While the Yankees dealt with a number of injuries to key options in the rotation and bullpen, they still finished 14th in the baseball in ERA (4.31), 11th in batting average against (.248), 18th in quality starts (53), fourth in strikeouts (1,534) and tied for 12th in shutouts (nine).
In the postseason, the team's pitching staff had a strong 2.87 ERA.
"Pitching is not what cost us that series with the Astros—at least, that's my opinion," Cashman said after their season ended in the ALCS, per Sherman and Martin. "I felt that our hitting with runners in scoring positions is what sent us home."
So it was a slight surprise to see the Yankees make the switch at pitching coach, though perhaps in a winter with major targets at starting pitcher for the Yanks to pursue—namely Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg—adding a pitching coach with a "new school" take may help attract one of the two aces on the market.
The Yankees are a stronger starting rotation away from being the clear favorites to win a title next season. Blake's hiring is the first step toward addressing that need.