New York Yankees: Have the Yankees hired a second pitching coach?

New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild
Apr 3, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild (58) visits the mound with New York Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47), second baseman Neil Walker (14) and catcher Gary Sanchez (24) during the fifth inning of the game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

During the offseason, the New York Yankees made significant moves to improve the entire team. On October 28, 2019, they fired longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  Rothschild had been the Yankees pitching coach since 2011. In the firing of Rothschild, the Yankees were signaling a move more toward a more analytic/technological model in developing their pitchers and preparing them for games.  Following through on that, they hired Matt Blake as their new pitching coach.   They also hired Sam Briend midseason to be their director of player development and run their minor league pitching operations.

Matt Blake’s hiring was surprising as many Yankee fans said: “Matt, who”.  But Yankee fans quickly learned who he was and why the Yankees hired him.  Blake is part of a new breed of pitching coach that is focused on analytics but also uses video from all angles to find the best delivery performance based on positioning that prevents injuries.  He has been called a “pitching guru” by his old college coach at Holy Cross in New England. Matt Blake was hired by the Yankees just two days after he was promoted as head pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians.

During the winter meetings in San Diego, the Yankees sent an entourage of Yankees, including General Manager Brian Cashman, team manager Aaron Boone, new pitching coach Matt Blake, and Andy Pettitte, who was a childhood idol of pitcher Gerrit Cole.  Cole was the free-agent prize this postseason up for grabs.  With the blessing of Yankee’s General Partner Hal Steinbrenner, Cashman offered Cole the large pitching contract ever, $324MM over nine years with a five-year opt-out.  Money and the persuasion of Andy Pettitte sealed the deal.

This week pitchers and catchers prepared for the new season with two workouts at the spring training complex at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.  All eyes were on the Yankees new ace Gerrit Cole.  Over the past few days, a phenomenon that might not have been expected has quickly shown manager Boone and the coaches more of who the real Gerrit Cole is.  He is a world-class talker, Boone said.  Cole, who threw his second official bullpen session on Friday morning, was quite talkative afterward. “He probably goes into the most detail [about pitching] that I’ve seen,” the Yankees manager said of Gerrit Cole.

“[It] seems like there’s no stone left unturned with him,” Boone said. “And he really has a specific understanding or intention with everything he’s doing. Which I think is really valuable not only for him, obviously, because his intelligence is part of what makes him great, along with having elite characteristics to his pitches, but his ability to communicate with myself, the pitching coach, catchers, teammates.”

“I think it really benefits him, and it’s hopefully something that speeds up that learning curve for all of us that are trying to learn and support him. As well as speeding up the building of those relationships.”

Cole seems more than willing to share his love of pitching and the techniques he uses; the Yankees just may have added another pitching coach.  As the season progresses it will be extremely interesting to see how both coach Matt Blake and Gerrit Cole develop together with the total focus being bringing a World Championship back to New York City.