New York Yankees: What pitching coach Matt Blake is doing to keep pitchers sharp

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The coronavirus has shut down all of baseball. The New York Yankees‘ pitching coach is trying to ease the situation by keeping his pitchers sharp for the eventual start of a baseball season if there is one.  Matt Blake, from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, is working with Yankee pitchers who are now scattered all over the United States.



Blake was hired during the offseason from the Indians organization to replace longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He is trying to keep pitchers stretched out and tossing the ball, so they don’t lose what they gained from the shortened spring training season in Tampa.

“You are kind of guessing more than anything,” new pitching coach Mike Blake said Wednesday in a media conference call. “I think you’re kind of idling them as much as possible and trying to find out a good rhythm for all of them, given their circumstances.”

He stated that with a starting date for baseball completely unknown, he is leaving alone the veteran pitches like Tanaka, Happ, and Cole, as they know how to stay pitching ready.  He is in constant contact with New York Yankees James Paxton as he rehabs from his back surgery.  Paxton is doing well and will be ready sooner than it was anticipated.  He made it known he is spending most of his time on newer pitchers like Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, and others, guiding them on ways to stay ready.

“I don’t think you need to be on a mound right now. Just given that we don’t really know a timeline, there’s a lot of other ways that we can keep them moving and putting healthy stress on (the pitching arm).“I do think there are some guys who benefit from being on a slope and keeping their delivery in rhythm, even if it’s on a lower volume of throws and just kind of ramping the intensity up a little bit on the slope to kind of keep the sequence and the delivery together. We talked about kind of keeping guys in some up-downs around 45-50 pitches from crowdsourcing with other pitching coaches around the league and some other guys that have a good feel for just what their body needs.

Veteran ace Gerrit Cole isn’t pitching from the mound, but he is getting his pitches in on the flat ground.  Cole is at his home in Greenwich, CT, where he recently bought a home on a large tract of land.  He has ample pitching room marked off to the usual 60′ distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate.  He is lucky being able to pitch to neighbor New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.  But his ace in the hole is his wife Amy.  They regularly play catch on the property.  Amy is an athlete in her own right and has a rocket of an arm.

Some pitchers benefit from pitching off a slope:

“We’re trying to get guys to get on the slope for one high-intensity session a week or one long-toss session at high intensity just to kind of make sure they’re pushing their motor up a little bit. And then the rest of the week, just kind of moving the ball around a little bit, whether it’s some moderate long toss or some flat ground (throwing), things of that nature.”

Blake has said previously that he feels the New York Yankees pitching staff will be ready no matter how the baseball season takes shape.  He was impressed with how the shortened spring training went for his pitchers.  Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is keeping sharp near his home in Japan until a mini-spring training date is announced.  He feels that the bullpen pitchers can keep themselves in shape and will be ready as well.

“We obviously know that our depth will be tested as with most teams,” Blake said. “But I think with the way that spring training was run and having a good look at the bulk of our pitchers both major and minor and some of the non-roster guys, we know we’ve got a nice roster of pitchers that will contribute here.”

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